Buck stared up at the counter patiently, while a line started to form behind him. He had his order placed, and now all he could do was wait behind a closed window. It slid open, and a tiny vanilla ice cream cone slid onto the steel counter. He bounced up and snatched it, swallowing it whole.
The goldador — a golden retriever-Labrador mix — licked his lips and went back to waiting at the closed window, expecting a second. Andrea Raulston, who brought both Buck and her son, Colten, to Dairy Queen’s weekly “Pet Night,” had to tug at his leash so the next dog could get an ice cream fix.
“They both love ice cream,” Raulston said.
For the past several years, the historic Dairy Queen at 1735 S. Higgins Ave has hosted its “Pets Night” every Monday from 5 p.m. to closing, from Valentine’s Day to Halloween. Every pet gets a free cone, small enough for those without thumbs to handle, and every family gets a free Blizzard.
“All around town, it’s tough to find restaurants that are pet friendly, so it’s wonderful for them to do this for the community,” said Raulston, who stopped by Dairy Queen after picking up her son from a YMCA after-school program.
Steven Bassett, the ice cream shop’s manager, thanks “Pet Night” for leading to his job there. He started as a customer, bringing his dog for a walk through the neighborhood and taking a break at Dairy Queen.
“It’s the best part of any day, seeing people bring their dogs here,” he said.
After working at Dairy Queen for the past year, Bassett has seen hundreds of dogs flock to the counter. However, “Pet Night” isn’t reserved for strictly canines.
“It’s any pet, so I’ve seen just about any you can imagine. Dogs, cats on leashes, gerbils, rabbits, lizards and snakes,” he said.
“Pet Night” began through a partnership between Dairy Queen and the Western Montana Humane Society. Just like years past, the store will host an on-site adoption event July 13.
Amanda Castonguay, a mother of two kids and two fur babies, has made a tradition of stopping by Dairy Queen every Monday, the same as many of the customers in line with leashes. They started the tradition last year, back when Ace and Daisy were “itsy bitsy.”
Daisy inhaled her cone. Ace, now weighing in at 65 pounds, let his sister have the rest after a few licks.