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Bow Wows and Brews' continued growth sends them to larger venue

DeltaPlex is the site of this year's entertainment event for dogs and their owners.
Pet portraits, like this shot from last year's event, will be offered again at this year's Bow-Wows and Brews.

Pet portraits, like this shot from last year's event, will be offered again at this year's Bow-Wows and Brews. /Rhonda Rupp/RJR Photography

Underwriting support from:

Bow-Wows and Brews

  • What: An entertainment event for people and their dogs benefiting the C-SNIP spay/neuter clinic. Beer tasting from local brewers is included in admission, and a cash bar for wine and mixed drinks will be available.
  • When: Feb. 10, 6:30 to 10 p.m.
  • Where: DeltaPlex Arena, 2500 Turner Ave., Grand Rapids
  • Tickets: $35 online, $45 at the door
  • Featuring: Beer samples from several Grand Rapids-area brew houses, food (including vegan selections) from SkyWalk Deli and chef Tommy Fitzgerald, a live auction and a silent auction, live music from Brant Satala and Cole Hansen, pet photography by RJR photography, dog agility demonstrations, holistic animal treatment demonstrations, an “animal communicator,” doggie daycare and raffle prizes.
  • Information:


Carrol Cook, co-owner of Presto Print, brought her Yorkshire terrier to last year's Bow-Wows and Brews.

Carrol Cook, co-owner of Presto Print, brought her Yorkshire terrier to last year's Bow-Wows and Brews. /C-SNIP photo


Pat Schoen did not anticipate how big the turnout would be when her organization C-SNIP started its Bow-Wows and Brews event three years ago. This year's event, which includes beer tasting from several local brew houses, food, a live auction, pet photography and dog agility, is expected to be the biggest yet. The Feb. 10 event will be held at the DeltaPlex in Walker, the third facility to house Bow-Wows and Brews in three years.

“The first year, we had it at the old Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts building,” said Schoen, the executive director of C-SNIP, a low-cost spay and neutering clinic in Grand Rapids. “It was so crowded – we didn't realize how popular it would be and how much people enjoy bringing their dogs with them to places, especially in the winter when there's so little to do."

“The second year, it was at Steelcase, and it was even bigger. We realized we wanted to do a few more fun events for people and their dogs, so now it's at DeltaPlex, and it's huge. We now have activities people can do with their dogs, like the agility course,” said Schoen.

Shelley Irwin, who produces and hosts the WGVU Morning Show, will co-emcee the event with Michelle McKormick of WLAV and WJRW. It's the first time emceeing the event for Irwin, whom many in the community recognize as an animal advocate. She has a Jack Russell/fox terrier mix, Ralphie, that she adopted form the Humane Society of West Michigan two years ago. Her other Jack Russell, Sparkle, died Jan. 2 at the age of 18.

“I was asked by C-SNIP, knowing I'm a dog lover and community supporter, and I enjoy representing WGVU as well,” Irwin said. “I've interviewed people from C-SNIP many times [on my radio show] and I'm an advocate for the cause. It's nice to be recognized and it will be nice to share the evening as well.”

Irwin said it'll be her role to keep order at Bow-Wows and Brews, whether it's making sure people are getting a chance to taste the many beer varieties available or helping prevent dust-ups between the many dogs expected to attend. McKormick's job, Irwin said, will be to handle the live auction.

“It'll be kind of like 'Mutt and Jeff' where I'll keep things in order and she'll get people riled up and crazy,” Irwin said. “I'll just keep directing people back to the beers and she'll make sure they're paying attention to her and the live auction.”

Bow-Wows and Brews not only gives owners and their dogs a chance to socialize, it's a big fund-raiser for C-SNIP. The net proceeds from the event to to C-SNIP's community spay/neuter assistance fund. C-SNIP has spayed and neutered more than 85,000 pets in West Michigan since it opened its doors 11 years ago.

“We have made a policy at C-SNIP will never turn anyone away because they don't have enough money for surgery,” Schoen said. “What we can't cover in grants comes out of that general operating fund. These fund-raisers are so important to us for that reason and secondly, it makes the public aware of us for future donations.”


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