SIOUX CITY | A beer, a margarita on the rocks and… a dog biscuit?
That might sound like an unusual bar order, but it’s fairly typical at Firehouse Bar’s “Yappy Hour,” a special happy hour for dogs and their two-legged counterparts every Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
“One time we were at a staff meeting and the idea just came up,” said Alethea Gabel, manager of Firehouse Bar. “We’ve always been really welcoming to our puppies in our beer garden as long as they’re well behaved.”
Puppy patrons are treated to a bowl of water, treats and a prize is given to “Doggie of the Day,” as chosen by the bartenders.
The first Yappy Hour event was held Aug. 9 and the Doggie of the Day was Bella, a Yorkshire terrier selected for her arsenal of “cool tricks.” For her prize, Bella got to choose a toy, fancy treat, or clothes from a gift basket.
“It gives pet owners something to do besides the dog park,” said Gabel, who owns a Shih Tzu and a cat. “And everyone knows dogs like to go ‘bye-bye.’”
The weekly event isn’t all about fun, either. Firehouse also donates portions of “Give a dog a bone,” an alcoholic beverage which can be ordered as a drink or a shot, to Noah’s Hope Animal Rescue, a Sioux City-based rescue that fosters and often rehabilitates homeless dogs.
As far as what comprises the drink, it’s hush-hush.
“It’s a surprise,” said Pauly Andersen, owner of Firehouse Bar. “It’s secret, but it’s delicious.”
Philanthropy is a common theme for the Fifth Street bar, which holds several fundraisers throughout the year for various local groups such as Noah’s Hope and Support Siouxland Soldiers.
In mid-July, the bar held a party that raised more than $5,000 for Noah’s Hope.
“We enjoy it, we really do,” Andersen said. “We do lots of fundraisers and we don’t want to forget the puppies.”
“We kinda like them,” he joked. Andersen owns a Labrador retriever, a Yorkshire terrier, and a long haired Chihuahua.
This dog-friendly atmosphere is evident as bartenders and waitresses fawn over the pooches milling around the beer garden, located behind the bar. Baggies are provided for any messes and dog owners are expected to clean up after their own dogs.
“My Shih Tzu got to come down for a little bit,” Gabel said. “She was getting territorial, though. She thought this was her place.”
Gabel said that the bar plans to keep Yappy Hour going as long as weather permits as the response has been strong and feedback has been positive from staff and patrons, both four- and two-legged alike.
“We want to keep it going until it ends up snowing,” she said. “We’re animal lovers and we like to give back so it’s a win-win for everyone.”