Dogs whined while owners dined, and there was not a soul that appeared to mind at Panama City Beach's first-ever "Yappy Hour" on February 4.

The DogSmith of Florida's Emerald Coast sponsored the inaugural event which benefitted the Pets Are Working Saints therapeutic ministry. The canine conflagration was coordinated by Bay Families with Dogs, Salty Sue's and The DogSmith as a celebration of the first restaurant to obtain its "Doggie Dining" permit from the City of Panama City Beach. The event featured raffles, door prizes, canine trivia contests, and human and canine cuisine as well as a fenced-in dog play area complete with DogSmith agility equipment.

"Responsible dog owners appreciate the ability to be able to get a bite in an outdoor area of a restaurant while they are out with their pets," said Stephanie Somerset, the Executive Director of Bay Families with dogs and the impetus behind Panama City Beach adopting the "Doggie Dining" the optional ordinance made permanent by the 2009 Florida legislature.

"The only way pets can learn how to act appropriately in public is to practice in public," said Catherine Zehner, owner of The DogSmith of Florida's Emerald Coast. "The DogSmith is here to help at these events, and to provide supervised canine activities so that the events are fun for both the four-legged and two-legged participants."

Zehner, a certified dog trainer since 2008, periodically holds free "doggie dining" seminars throughout Bay, Walton and Okaloosa counties.

For more information or to find a class or free seminar near you, visit