Nine months after three dogs from the same litter were adopted at a Colorado Springs pet store, the pups and their owners gathered at Bear Creek Regional Park for a birthday celebration complete with presents, party hats and treats flavored with peanut butter and pumpkin puree.
And from the way the pooches interacted - bumping noses and playfully nipping at one another - they hadn't forgotten they were family.
"We want to think that they know," said Lori DeVoll, who along with her husband, Alan, adopted their dog, Aspen, in June at the Petco at University Village shopping center. About the same time, Aspen's brother and sister, Frank and Iggy, were adopted.
The three mutts - part Labrador retriever, part Great Pyrenees and part Australian cattle dog - celebrated their first birthday Saturday. About a dozen of their owners' friends attended, many who brought their own pets.
"It was just a really fun reason to get back together," said Amy Beam, who adopted Frank with her husband, Steven. "For a lot of us, these dogs are our babies."
Beam and DeVoll exchanged phone numbers while standing in line to adopt their dogs, which were brought to the pet store by the San Luis Valley Animal Welfare Society for an adoption event.
"I actually showed up just because I knew there were going to be puppies to play with. We knew we wanted a dog, we were just going to wait a little bit longer," Beam said. "But when I saw them, I couldn't leave them."
Since then, the owners have kept in touch, offering each other advice on everything from pet sitters to kibble. The guidance has been helpful for them, especially since it's their first time having pets since they were growing up.
"We would have otherwise been total strangers," DeVoll said. "We would have been on our own."
Frank, more mellow than his two sisters, spent part of the party chomping on his birthday gift, a stuffed raccoon. Beam said she chose to adopt him because he was sleeping in the corner of the pen at Petco, unlike Aspen and Iggy, who could barely sit still. The sisters are more energetic, their owners say.
"She loves every dog she meets - even the ones that are aggressive toward her," said Iggy's owner, Alison Pienta.
The party's human attendees chatted about their pets, while the four-legged guests spent most of the celebration munching on treats and sniffing one another.
"I've never been to a dog's birthday party before," said Beam's friend, Molly Ruse. "It's pretty much just as chaotic as a kids' birthday party."
Ruse and her husband, Joel, adopted their "shelter mutt," Gryff, a Great Pyrenees-collie mix, from the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region.
"It's all about the rescue dogs and the community that we build," said Brenda Middle, Aspen's dog-sitter, who attended the party. "The dogs bring everybody together."
Contact Rachel Riley: 636-0108