Dog's Life: Travel
A Dog Abroad
Getting from point A to point B sometimes requires thinking outside the airline cargo hold.
The author with her dog, Captain, and Oliver, the Kennel master; Captain on deck; Evening view sans dog

Dogs are part of the family, but are rarely treated as such by the travel industry. It’s easy to buy airline tickets for children, or make a hotel reservation that includes them. But as I discovered, dogs are another story. When I found out we were being transferred from the U.S. to Germany, one of my first thoughts was, “What about the dog?” The company transferring us was gracious about it; they agreed to cover travel costs for Captain, our eight-month-old, mixed-breed pup, but booking the travel was up to me.

I started by talking to airlines, and quickly found out that none would allow Captain—who weighed more than 20 pounds and wouldn’t fit under a seat—to fly in the cabin; he would have to ride in the cargo hold. Initially, I was told that for an extra $200, he could go as baggage on the flight on which we were ticketed. But when the airline found out that he was young and still growing, the terms changed: if he weighed more than 50 pounds on the day of the flight, he would be designated as cargo, and the cost could be as much as $2,500. And they couldn’t guarantee that he would be on the same flight as we were.

Since he was already 47 pounds, I figured chances were good he would fall into the cargo category. When I asked what would happen if he didn’t make our flight, the representative said that we could either change our flight (and pay the associated costs) or designate someone to pick up Captain, take him home and bring him back later to try again. Neither option sounded particularly appealing. And even though the cost wasn’t coming out of my pocket, it seemed excessive.

Persevering in my search, I called other cargo handlers. Lufthansa was the only airline that would transport dogs during the summer (which was when we were scheduled to move). Liability concerns have discouraged many airlines from transporting live animals at all; others will not fly them from May to September. Those I spoke with at Lufthansa were all very reassuring. They told me that dogs were held in air-conditioned areas and taken to the plane after all other baggage has been loaded, so they’re not left waiting on the tarmac. Food is not allowed in the crates, but they do allow water bottles, blankets or toys.

Even with the reassurances, I was still uneasy. I would need to have Captain in the crate and checked in three hours prior to flight time, and he would not be taken out of the crate until he had cleared customs at the end of the flight, which could easily be 14 to 16 hours later. In the meantime, he would be alone and buffeted by many unfamiliar noises and sensations. One airline representative told me that “to dogs, it is just like riding in a car,” but I didn’t quite believe that. I was worried, but didn’t see any options.

But were there other options? Imagine my surprise when I learned that the Cunard Line’s flagship ocean liner, Queen Mary 2, had kennel service on their monthly transatlantic cruise. I was further (and pleasantly) surprised to learn that fares for human passengers started at a level comparable to the cost of a round-trip transatlantic flight, and was considerably less than a one-way air ticket. While dogs (with the exception of service animals) were not allowed in the staterooms, the kennel area included a large playroom, and there was a deck galley for outside walks. Owners could visit several times a day, and a kennel master was on duty as well to care for the dogs at other times or if the owners were unavailable. Kennel fees started at $500. This sounded like it would be a much more pleasant experience for everyone, including Captain. After a short consideration, I booked our tickets.

Ready, Set, Go!

Fortunately, dogs traveling to EU countries, including Great Britain, no longer have to be quarantined. Owners need to make sure their animals have ISO chips for identification, a current rabies vaccination at time of sailing (at least 21 days prior), tapeworm treatment 120 to 24 hours prior to sailing, a thorough vet examination and a stamped sign-off by the USDA within 10 days of sailing. The paperwork, which sounds daunting, is required regardless of means of transport. Cunard made the process very easy, providing detailed checklists and pre-inspection of paperwork a few days prior to boarding so there was time to correct any missing information prior to our sail date.

I had been advised by our state USDA office to fax all paperwork from the vet’s office before coming into office for the stamps. The paperwork is complicated, and many vets do not do it frequently. In our case, some documentation needed to be corrected, and being on-site at the vet’s office made it easier to do. Since we’d cleared the paperwork in advance, obtaining the stamps was just a formality. Finally, papers in hand, we set out for New York City to board our ship.

After taking a few days to drive up the East Coast, visiting with friends and family along the way, we arrived in Brooklyn the day before sailing. We found a dog-friendly hotel close to the docks and spent the afternoon exploring the local city parks and sidewalks.

The next day, we arrived at the docks at the designated time. My husband saw us off, but he was not sailing with us, and I was concerned about handling both Captain and the baggage; since we were moving, I had 18 bags. Thankfully, curbside valets unloaded the car and whisked the bags away to be delivered to my stateroom, leaving me free to concentrate on getting Captain onboard and settled.

There were, of course, the lines and security that everyone has come to expect, but they moved quickly, and Captain took it all in stride. After the initial check in, I was sent to wait in a special area with the other dogs and their owners. There was a bit of barking as the 10 dogs who were making the crossing sized up one another, but no aggression, and the cruise line provided us with enough space to spread out.

After one of the pursers reviewed the EU paperwork and scanned the dogs to confirm microchip numbers, the kennel master, Oliver, boarded the dogs in groups of two. Quickly sizing up the group, he decided to take our 55-pound puppy on board first, along with two dogs I had named “the pretties”: sweet, docile Shih Tzus ensconced in their own carrier. Before he did anything, however, Oliver took a moment with each dog, introducing himself and letting them start to become familiar with him.

Guided by Oliver, Captain and I went up the gangplank and into the Art Deco opulence of the QM2’s Grand Lobby. Oliver kept us moving at a trot as we made our way through the ship and up to deck 12, where the kennels are located. Entering a side deck area through a gate labeled “owners only,” we came to the main kennel entrance.

There were two rows of kennel cages, six on the bottom and six on the top. The cages were separated by removable dividers, and Captain’s age and weight had earned him a double space on the bottom row. One would have given him plenty of room, but since he was still a growing puppy when I made the reservation, the staff erred on the side of caution (no one was sure how much he was going to grow before we sailed). Each cage was labeled with the dog’s name and outfitted with a thick blanket, dog bed, and food and water dishes.

We explored the room for a few minutes, then Oliver asked me to get Captain into his accommodations so he could continue the boarding process. I put a few toys in the cage and Captain hopped right in. When all the dogs were situated, we were given the visiting schedule, which allowed for about eight hours of interaction daily, and asked to come back later that afternoon, after the life-boat drills had been completed. As we sailed out of the harbor, the view from the top deck was magnificent, and everyone was excited. After months of planning and gathering paperwork, we were underway!

Life on Board

After a day or two on the ship, the dogs settled into a routine. They did their business on the deck, which was difficult for dogs who had been taught not to go on hard surfaces. There was a square of artificial turf, but initially, it confused them; they could tell it wasn’t grass. But eventually, need won out, and the dogs voided on the deck—a few rounds of treats and praise helped overcome their reluctance. Each established a favorite spot. Oliver, who was always there with a scooper, hose and squeegee, protested when the owners tried to help.

Cunard had stocked each dog’s favorite food, and many of us had brought along food and treats as well. Still, at first, some of the dogs weren’t interested in eating; Captain was one of them. Though he turned up his nose at his usual kibble, he was quickly won over when Oliver mixed it with some canned food he had on hand. For dogs who held out a bit longer than Captain, the kitchen sent up poached chicken, ground beef and rice. No dog refused that meal!

The dogs were a big attraction, and many passengers stopped at the fenced-off area to ask questions and watch the dogs. There were a few celebrities sailing with us, and they also found their way to the kennels; when he heard another Captain was on board, the QM2’s captain even stopped in to meet him. And of course, those of us whose dogs were the focus of so much attention spent many hours together each day, playing with our dogs and watching them play with each other. The dogs formed friendships, as did we. With the exception of one couple who traveled between homes in Great Britain and the U.S., everyone else was relocating, and like me, had not been comfortable transporting their dogs on airplanes.

We had all wondered how everyone would get along, but we were lucky—we were a group of down-to-earth, flexible, considerate people with reasonably well-behaved and friendly dogs. Oliver told us that most groups did get along well, but if there were problems, it was generally between the owners, not the dogs. He also said there was a conflict-resolution policy in place in the event things didn’t go quite so smoothly, which was reassuring.

Land Ho

We arrived in England at Southampton after a week at sea, which is where most of the dogs and owners left us. Only three dogs—Captain included—were continuing on to Hamburg. A vet boarded the ship to scan microchips and inspect the paperwork of the dogs disembarking. Captain stayed on board and played with Oliver while I took advantage of a shore excursion to Stonehenge.

With just three dogs in residence, the next few days were quiet, and after more than a week at sea, we were all anxious to get back on land. The dogs seemed to miss their friends, or perhaps were just exhausted after a week of playing, and spent most of the remaining time lazing in the sun.

The night before we reached Hamburg, we received word that the German vet had opted not to come on board, but rather, had reviewed and approved the immigration paperwork for the dogs via fax. In another nice surprise, we were told that the dogs entitled us to priority disembarkation status. We agreed to meet with Oliver as a group at 8:30 in the morning, and to leave the ship together.

The next morning, we took a few minutes to let the dogs romp and say goodbye to Oliver, since we knew it would be busy once we left the ship. Oliver was already making name tags for the next set of four-pawed passengers, who would be coming onboard later that day—the new group included two cats. Once we gave any treats that remained to Oliver (we couldn’t take them with us into Germany), we were ready to go. Oliver took Captain and I dealt with a couple of pieces of luggage; the rest of my bags had been collected the night before and would be waiting for me on the other side of customs. Cunard had processed passports while we were underway, so all I had to do was walk down the gangplank and show my passport to the agent on the dock. He nodded, and we were done.

Oliver walked with our group to collect our luggage, and handled all the dogs while we did so. It was now goodbye for real. With family members waiting to load us and our luggage into cars and take us to our new homes, we hugged, wished each other luck and told Oliver we hoped to see him on a future crossing. After this comfortable and well-orchestrated adventure, none of us could imagine a better way to cross the ocean with our dogs! 

Dog's Life: Travel
Essential Hiking Gear for You and Your Dog

This information has been adapted from Dan Nelson’s Best Hikes With Dogs: Western Washington, 2nd Ed.

Hiking is a great way to reconnect with both nature and your dog. On the hiking trail, away from cell phones and other distractions, you and your co-pilot can truly bond as you feel the terrain beneath your feet, take in the unfiltered beauty of nature and stop to smell the clover (or anything else that crosses your dog’s nose). But no hiker should venture far up a trail without being properly equipped. Outdoor experts Dan Nelson and The Mountaineers Books (publisher of the Best Hikes with Dogs series) offer their advice for safe and happy trails.

When heading out on a day (or multi-day) hike on a backcountry trail, the old tenet “be prepared” is to be taken seriously—starting with proper footwear, handy dog gear and basic safety measures. The items you pack will vary from trip to trip and dog to dog, but there are a few things each and every one of us should have in our packs. Each member of your hiking party—human or canine—should have a pack loaded with their Ten Essentials, including items you might need in an emergency.

Remember, the only way you can be sure your dog is safe on the trail, is if you stay safe, warm and well-fed. So let’s start with your essentials.

The Ten Essentials
1. Navigation (map and compass). Carry a topographic map of the area you plan to be in and know how to read it. Likewise, carry a compass—again, make sure you know how to use it.

2. Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen). In addition to sunglasses and sunscreen (SPF 15 or better), take along physical sun barriers, such as a wide-brimmed hat, a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. 3. Insulation (extra clothing). This means more clothing than you would wear during the worst weather of the planned outing. If you get injured or lost, you won’t be moving around generating heat, so you’ll need to be able to bundle up.

4. Illumination (flashlight/headlamp). If caught after dark, you’ll need a headlamp or flashlight to be able to follow the trail. If forced to spend the night, you’ll need it to set up emergency camp, gather wood and so on. Carry extra batteries and bulbs, too.

5. First aid supplies. Nothing elaborate needed—especially if you’re unfamiliar with how to use less-familiar items. Make sure you have plastic bandages, gauze bandages, some aspirin and other supplies recommended by the Red Cross. At minimum a Red Cross first aid training course is recommended. Better still, sign up for a Mountaineering-Oriented First Aid (MOFA) course if you’ll be spending a lot of time in the woods.

6. Fire (fire starter and matches). Campfires should be avoided in most backcountry camps, but they can be lifesavers in an emergency. An emergency campfire provides warmth, but it also has a calming effect on most people. Without one, the night can be cold, dark and intimidating. With one, the night is held at arm’s length. A candle or tube of fire-starting ribbon is essential for starting a fire with wet wood. And, of course, matches are important. You can’t start a fire without them. Pack them in a waterproof container and/or buy the waterproof/windproof variety. Book matches are useless in wind or wet weather, and disposable lighters are unreliable. Be sure to build an emergency fire in a safe location where the fire can’t spread.

7. Repair kit and tools (including a knife). A pocket knife is helpful; a multi-tool is better. You never know when you might need a small pair of pliers or scissors, both of which are commonly found on compact multi-tools. A basic repair kit includes a 20-foot length of nylon cord, a small roll of duct tape, some 1-inch webbing and extra webbing buckles (to fix broken pack straps), and a small tube of Super Glue.

8. Nutrition (extra food). Pack enough food so that you’ll have some left over after an uneventful trip—the extra food will keep you fed and fueled during an emergency.

9. Hydration (extra water). Figure what you’ll drink between water sources, and then add an extra liter. If you plan to rely on wilderness water sources, be sure to include some method of purification, whether a chemical additive, such as iodine, or a filtration device.

10. Emergency shelter. This can be as simple as a few extra-large garbage bags, or something more efficient, such as a reflective space blanket or tube tent. In addition to these essentials, I add an emergency survival kit. This tiny package at the bottom of my pack holds a small metal mirror, an emergency Mylar blanket, a whistle and a tiny signal smoke canister—all useful for signaling to search parties whether they are on the ground or in the air.

Here is a list of equally important essentials for your dog.

The Ten Canine Essentials
1. Obedience training. Before you set foot on a trail, make sure your dog is trained and can be trusted to behave when faced with other hikers, other dogs, wildlife and an assortment of strange scents and sights in the backcountry. If he can’t behave, don’t take him hiking.

2. Doggy backpack (for longer hikes). Let the dog carry his own gear. Dogs can be trained to carry gear in their backpacks, but, to avoid developmental problems, don’t put packs on dogs younger than a year old.

3. Basic first aid kit. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends a checklist of items for your dog’s first aid kit. The Red Cross also offers classes in pet first aid.

4. Dog food and trail treats. You should pack more food than your dog normally consumes because he will be burning more calories than normal, and if you do end up having to spend an extra night out there, you need to keep the pup fed, too. Trail treats serve the same purpose for the dog as they do for you—quick energy and a pick-me-up during a strenuous day of hiking.

5. Water and water bowl. Don’t count on there being water along the trail for the dog. Pack enough extra water to meet all your dog’s drinking needs.

6. Leash and collar, or harness. Even if your dog is absolutely trained to voice command and stays at heel without a leash, sometimes leashes are required by law or just by common courtesy, so you should have one handy at all times.

7. Insect repellent. Be aware that some animals, and some people, have strong negative reactions to certain insect repellents. So, before leaving home, dab a little repellent on a patch of your dog’s fur to see your dog’s reaction to it. Look for signs of drowsiness, lethargy or nausea. Remember to restrict repellent applications to those places the dog can’t lick—the shoulders, the back of the neck, and around the ears (staying well clear of the ears and inner ears)—which are also near the most logical places mosquitoes will be looking for exposed skin (at the eyes, nose, and inner ears) to bite. And don’t forget to check your dog’s entire body for ticks, foxtails and other trail troublemakers after your hike.

8. ID tags and picture identification. Your dog should always wear ID tags, and since a dog lost in the woods can lose his or her collar, I’d heartily recommend microchipping her as well. Carry a photo of your dog in your pack. If your dog gets lost far from home, you can use the image to make flyers to post in the surrounding communities.

9. Dog booties. These help protect the dog’s feet from rough ground or harsh vegetation. They also keep bandages secure if the dog damages its pads.

10. Compact roll of plastic bags and trowel. You’ll need the bags to clean up after your dog on popular trails. When conditions warrant, you can use the trowel to take care of your dog’s waste. Just pretend you are a cat—dig a small hole six to eight inches deep in the forest duff, deposit the dog waste, and fill in the hole.

[The Mountaineers Books Best Hikes with Dogs series]

Dog's Life: Travel
Dog-Friendly Summer Events
Dozens of summer activities for you and your co-pilot


Lincoln Center Out of Doors: Laurie Anderson and Friends

August 10, 2011; New York, NY

Jam along the Creek

June 10-12, 2011; Millmont, PA

The Levitt Pavilion of Performing Arts-50 Nights of Free Entertainment Under the Stars

Ongoing throughout summer; Westport, CT

Pittsburgh Blues Festival

July 22-24, 2011; Pittsburgh, PA

Shannon Street Blues and Heritage Festival

June 3-4, 2011; Jackson, TN

Woofstock Dog Festival

June 4, 2011; Roanoke, VA

Twin Cities Jazz Festival

June 23-25, 2011; St. Paul, MN

Portland Parks & Recreation Summer Concerts in the Parks 2011

Ongoing July-August; Portland, OR

Coventry Street Arts Festival

June 26, 2011 and July 24, 2011; Cleveland Heights, OH

Burning Dog Festival

June 17th-19th; Big Sur, CA

Surfin' Sundays

June 05, 2011, July 17, 2011, and August 14, 2011; Huntington Beach, CA




6th Annual Loews Coronado Bay Resort Surf Dog Competition

June 4, 2011; Imperial Beach, CA 

2011 Teva Mountain Games

June 3-5, 2011; Vail, CO 

MLB Dog Days:

Cleveland Indians - Puppypalooza: August 23rd vs. Seattle Mariners.

Florida Marlins - Bark at the Park: August 12th vs. San Francisco Giants.

Oakland A's - Dog Day at the Park: July 15th vs. Los Angeles Angels.

San Diego - Dog Days of Summer: July 16th vs. San Francisco Giants.

St. Louis Cardinals - Purina Pooches in the Ballpark: June 25th vs. Toronto Blue Jays.

SF Giants Dog Days of Summer at AT&T Park




Norman Rockwell Museum Presents “It’s a Dog’s Life: Norman Rockwell Paints Man’s Best Friend”

June 25th-Nov 11th;Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA


August 6, 2011; Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA



Taking Action for Animals

July 15-18, 2011; Washington, DC.

No Kill Conference

July 30-31, 2011; Washington, DC


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Dog's Life: Travel
Dog-Friendly Travel
Great reader tips for every region

Bark readers love to get out with their dogs in a big way, and maybe the only thing they enjoy as much as dog-centered fun is sharing what they've learned with like-minded travelers. We're happy to share their collected travel tips below and for destinations by region on the following pages: West, Northeast, Midwest, Southwest, Southeast. Enjoy!

This summer I plan to ramp up my agility training with my two Chihuahuas who compete in dog agility. None of us like competing in the hottest part of the summer, but we'll be attending fun matches and trials that offer evening runs, and regular evening training classes. Hopefully by Fall when it cools down a bit, we'll be Q'ing up a storm at local agility trials! — Veronica

We do lots of doggie camping trips and trial hikes during the year! i love when my clients include their dogs in our adventures - and the dogs love it to! — Jeanene Arrington Fisher

I take my dogs Letterboxing. The clues on Atlas Quest have an icon of a dog which means the box is dog friendly to find. I can take my dogs to any state any time of the year, log on to Atlas Quest, and find a fido friendly adventure calling our name. The clues also list distance so I can pick an adventure that fit's my Shar-Pei's activity level. — Kelly Dally

Buy name/ID tags that have a slip of paper in them that can be removed; add the important contact info for where you are staying. We have a separate ID tag for our trips to my mother’s house, since that is a destination we visit repeatedly. — Danielle Tisinger

National parks do not allow dogs, but they are allowed in most national forest areas. This leaves you with endless possibilities for fun with your dog. My dogs are at their happiest when we take them hiking. They tromp through water, run with each other and wrestle, get dirty, just be dogs. — Rebecca Whisler

If traveling by car, ensure safety of your dog by securing the dog in the car, either by a dog seatbelt attachment or enclosing him or her in a crate. That way, if you are unfortunately in an accident, you decrease the likelihood that the dog will be thrown from the car and running loose on the road. — Sara Chisnell-Voigt

Just stay at home and enjoy being with your dog. — Connie Raymond

I have a black coated Pekingese. I take him with me everywhere I go. He loves the outdoors but being black the summer heat really gets to him. So I always have a spray bottle of water with me to cool him off. And for the days we don't leave the house we sit out in the yard with the kiddie pool filled with cool water! He lives it! — Michelle Seipel

On a warm summer day my dogs and I enjoy swimming in our outdoor pool. Each of my toy poodles and I like to sit on a float in the pool and relax in the sun. My dogs also like to swim in the pool with their life jackets on while swimming after tennis balls floating in the water. Then when my dogs get out of the pool they enjoy running around the back yard trying to dry off! Great way to spend a sunny summer day! — Amy Uecker

There are many favorite things we do with our pups but the best thing is our family RV trips. We don't have to even go far, just being together is fun. Our Golden Retriever was the co-pilot and sat up front on our journeys. She would jump up into the seat and lay her head on the arm rest as we traveled. Our favorite time was in the mountains the pups looked out the windows at the deer eating grass outside. I think spending time with them is the most important thing and playing hard with them. Our Golden loved swimming in the pool and laying on the lounge pool floats and was a great Lifeguard, watching over everyone in the pool. What ever your destinations is,do something with your pet. Our golden retriever Christy Angelina Sunshine,our Co-Pilot,our life guard, our little girl and best friend passed away this week from cancer. Our summer adventure will not be the same with her gone but we will find something for our two other pups to do. We will have fun still on a new adventure barking up a storm. — Susan Evans

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For a dog-friendly destination in your area, visit our "readers tips" by region: West, Northeast, Midwest, Southwest, Southeast

Dog's Life: Travel
Dog-Friendly Travel Tips - Southeast
Dozens of destinations for you and your co-pilot

From al fresco dining in Asheville, N.C., to swimming in the shallow waters off Shell Island, Fla., Bark readers have sniffed out the best dog-friendly destinations for summer in the Southeast.

Duck in the Outer Banks, North Carolina is one of the best places to visit with you dog. Duck loves dogs!!! — Karla Gutierrez-Pugh

We live in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and we have an endless amount of trails and parks to bring our doggies to. Whether we trek loops on the Appalachian Trail, visit the Shenandoah River or just traverse our backyard, we are blessed by location! — Angela Chevalier

In North Augusta, S.C., there is a beautiful trail system called the Greeneway. Most of the trail is shaded, and the entire trail is paved. A large part of it goes along the Savannah River. It’s just beautiful and peaceful there. — Mimi Hopson

The dog beach at Lover's Key State Park on the West coast of Florida. My dogs love it! Beautiful white sand, shallow calm water, and secluded so it's safe for them to run off-leash. — Trish Scelfo

Barkwells in Ashville, NC!!! Each cabin has its own fenced in yard and the whole facility is fenced in, as well. Dogs can socialize, as can the humans. The city of Ashville is so dog friendly! Dogs can go in most shops and most outdoor restaraunts. There is no better place to take your dogs on vacation. — Jordan Stoune

The beautiful beach at Cape San Blas, Fla., is pet-friendly 24/7— the best we have visited. Lady can’t wait to go back this year. She has yet to capture a sand crab, but that is not for any lack of diligence. — Kay Stephenson

Here in St.Petersburg Florida we are close to the beach, but the not to miss spot is the Love My Dog Resort. In addition to the daycare areas that are all artificial turf, with misting systems, wading pools and tons of toys, they have a huge water park that rivals any human park I've ever seen. The address is 6427 54th Ave. N. — Lori Fricker

Pennie has a great time at the beach at Amelia Island, Florida. Amelia Island is the most pet friendly city I've ever encountered. The Marriott Hotel is super dog-friendly and my family (including Pennie) were made to feel right at home. I loved this place. She had a blast running around on the beach off leash and no one to get upset at her. It's an awesome place for the family and your best canine loyal friend. — Patricia Sparks

We love to take our water loving dogs, a Black Lab and a Golden Retriever, to St. Augustine, FL. They have many pet friendly beach rentals,as well as a few restaurants. Very historic city, that is beautiful to tour by foot with your four legged children. The coast is amazing, and is a fun spot for the furries to frolic and enjoy their vacation! — Nicole Ciulla

St. George Island in Florida. Great place to bring your dog..... pet friendly to the max!!!!! Lots of old Florida charm, with a definite leaning towards our furry four footers...... — Marisa Manville

If you love the outdoors you've got to head to the mountains of North Carolina with your dog. Near the towns of Boone, Blowing Rock & Sugar Mountain are tons of trails. I had the pleasure of living there for a few years and go back every chance I get. All levels of trails from easy to difficult high in the mountains or along the rivers. Some are right off the Blue Ridge Parkway while others are nestled in the Forrest. From the spring until the fall it's beautiful there. All the towns are very dog friendly as are many accommodations and the people very welcoming too. If you need any help check out a small outdoor store called Footsloggers in Blowing Rock for help with maps and trails among other things. — Nancy Bahls

Barkwells in NC!! You can even bring your horse. They have dog doors and gated porches in the cabins and plenty of dog play areas. — Lisa Ammirati

Panama City Florida, home of the world's most beautiful beaches, allows dogs on the waterfront at the Pier Park shopping and dining complex (also dog-friendly!). Window-shop, dine, and enjoy the snow-white sands and turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico together. Then rent a boat and take a day trip to the center of Shell Island, where the shallow waters and uninhabited white beaches at the boater's anchorage are a dog-friendly canine nirvana. — Stephanie Somerset

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More Reader Travel Tips

Dog's Life: Travel
Dog-Friendly Travel Tips - Northeast
Dozens of destinations for you and your co-pilot

From St. Augustine Beaches, to a dog camp in Morris, N.Y., Bark readers reveal their must-go dog-friendly summer destinations in the Northeast.

Fourpeaks Adirondack Backcountry Camps in Jay, N.Y.: 700 acres of breathtaking beauty. You cannot count the stars. No leashes. I have never met a crabby person there and most people bring friendly dogs. It is heaven. — Kathleen Hurley

Nothing better for a family/dog vacation: Provincetown, Mass., at the easternmost tip of Cape Cod. It’s easy to find a motel or inn that takes dogs, and when you walk down Commercial Street, merchants have bowls of water out for thirsty canines, and many stores and outdoor restaurants let you bring your dog in. There are beautiful (and free) beaches where you can take your dog on off-peak hours; a great dog park, Pilgrim Bark Park; and nearly everywhere you walk offers scenic views of the Atlantic. — John Stemen & Lisa Cohen

Burlington, Vt: Swimming in the lake, three off-leash dog parks, outdoor dining on Church Street, walking the 13-mile bike path next to the lake, exploring trails in the Burlington Intervale and Ethan Allen Homestead. — Cindy Kilgore

Do the dew! Dewey Beach, Del., that is. Dewey Beach is a dog-friendly town. The beach is available for dog play before 9:30 in the morning and after 5:30 in the evening. Every entrance to the beach and most street corners have free doggie bags and trash cans. It truly is better when you don’t have to leave your best friends behind. — Lisa Rufft

If you find yourself in Providence, the East Side is a wonderful network of walkable, tree-lined streets connecting a couple of cute neighborhoods ... each with super dog-friendly businesses! Wayland Square on one end has a dog friendly book store (Books on the Square), Cafe (The Edge Cafe - with home-made dog biscuits), Wine Store (Wayland Square Fine Wines) and dog boutique (Plaid and Stripe). A short (1.5 mile) stroll down Blackstone Boulevard with its tree-filled central park takes you to Lippit Park, home to an awesome and super dog-friendly Farmers Market on Saturday mornings all summer (there's even a doggy bakery, Jack's Snacks). From there, you can wander back up Hope Street to another stretch of restaurants and cafes (Seven Stars, for one!) with dog-friendly outdoor seating. — Laurelin

The Daniel Rust House B&B in Coventry CT. Pet friendly and they'll watch your dog while you meander! — Elinor Bernstein

Two well behaved dogs are allowed to stay for free with their owners at the beautiful Paradise Point Cottages on Lake Umbagog located at: P.O. Box 98 Rte.26 Errol, New Hampshire. 603-482-3834. The owners, Ricky and Linda Blais have 3 yellow Labs. A most beautiful spot to relax and vacation on the NH/ME border and near Canada. Wildlife abounds like moose and loons, deer, bears and of course the natural beauty of Lake Umbagog and peace and quiet and the beauty of sales tax free New Hampshire. Beautiful clean cabins await you for your stay. Something for everyone year round in New Hampshire's Great North Woods. Highly recommended. —Luanne Nieder-Goodall

The best off leash fun is Bare Cove in Hingham, MA. Dogs are expected to be under voice control as many people use this fantastic place for family fun, exercise and simply enjoying nature whether or not they own a dog. There are trails through the woods or paved paths for the less adventurous type. Fresh water can be found but the larger bodies of water are brakish and perfect for swimming (dogs and humans alike!). — Joy Higgins

Mention the "dog beach" and our Portuguese Water dog, "Max,” goes bonkers! Off Rt. 85 on the Marlboro/Hudson, MA line, this pet-friendly beach area is small and not "advertised,” but very visible as it's part of Fort Meadow reservation. It's a short walk off the road through some woods. We've never seen a dog fight or any misbehaviour and humans can even go in and get wet!! — Bonnie Elman

We had a great vacation with our dog last summer at the Interlaken Inn in the Southern Berkshires. Great dog friendly lodging surrounded by cute little towns. Plus the Inn has a lovely lake with a beach for human and canine swimming. And the Inn supports a local animal shelter. — Jen B.

At least half of our adventure is driving to our destination. I don't know if you can name a particular hotel/motel chain, but we definitely recommend LaQuinta. Pets are always welcome! — Sister Mary Winifred

If you are staying in the Portland, Maine area the best hotel to stay at is The Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, ME. They treat your dog like they treat you. They have a Special Package called incredible pets, that includes your dogs own PERSONALIZED LL Bean dog bed, made in maine dog toys, turn down treat, spa treatments, room service menus, the works! Plus you are close to Fort Williams Park, several local dog parks, Old Port in Portland and the beach all great, scenic dog walking places!! — Gloria Peterson

Boothbay Harbor, Maine, Lots of Dog Friendly shops....lots of water bowls,pet friendly accomodations, miles of preserve trails and The Creative Turtle..dog friendly art gallery specializing in Pet Portraits & eco friendly dog items!! Small harbor town ....perfectly Maine! — Anita Roelz

I grew up around Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park in Maine. There are tons of dog-friendly B&Bs, restaurants and businesses (everyone has a dog water dish outside of their store). And, there are amazing trails for every ability. It’s a must-go every summer for us. — Laurelin Sitterly

We love the Highland House in Cape May, New Jersey! And, Sunset Beach is a doggie friendly beach and a short mile from Highland House!!! Doggie friendly dining in Cape May is easy to find, but our favorite restaurant is Aleathea's Restaurant at the Inn at Cape May. Our "kidz" enjoyed their dinners while seated in very comfortable dining chairs (same as Mom and Dad's). They enjoyed a bowl of ice cold water and a dinner combination of steak and chicken on china plates! Highly recommend Highland House, Sunset Beach and Aleathea's ♥ — Janie Lamberton

How about Grapehounds - an event in NY and Virginia each year that combines wine tasting and adopted retired racing greyhounds - best part - all of the proceeds go to help greyhound adoption groups in these states! [Seneca Lake, NY, July 28-31; VA event in May] — Cindy Siddon

St. Augustine Beaches and town are dog friendly. What a delight to watch our 2 dogs run on the beach! Many vacation homes to rent are also dog friendly there. It was wonderful not having to leave them in a kennel for the duration of our trip. Go to St. Augustine's with your best buddy! — Cheryl Lee

My dogs and I vote for Canine Outdoor Adventures at Glen Highland Farm in Morris, NY. They host a fantastic off-leash group dog camp every year with amazing teachers. Camp size is about 40 informed & enlightened dog lovers and their dogs. The Farm itself is gorgeous - trails thru hilltop meadows, hemlock forests, a creek with tons of hideaway dog beaches. In addition to Camp they offer the Getaway where you and your dog(s) can enjoy 2-night min stay in one of their RVs, cabins or tents and enjoy the 175-acre property at your leisure. We've come back every year (for Camp and a Getaway) for the last 6 years. The 6-hour drive is totally worth it! — Joycelene Padilla

L'Oreal Day in August in NJ...so much fun and the goodie bags are legendary! — Debbie Viney

After the summer has sizzled and the leaves are brilliant gold and crimson, Shelburne Museum in Burlington, Vermont, opens its doors to the dogs of Vermont on September 18th. Over 1200 dogs and their human friends descend on the grounds for a day of agility, contests, training demos, frisbee lessons, and everything dog. For those carrying the purse, there are over a hundred dog-related vendors. For Vermonters, it really marks the calendar of the seasons changing from warm to cold. — Cindy Kilgore

For an absolutely heavenly time with my dogs, I head to Dog Mountain in St Johnsbury, VT. Founded by the late Stephen Huneck, an avid dog lover and artist, he created the Dog Chapel on Dog Mountain as a tangible expression of the deep and healing connection between humans and dogs. Dog Mountain is a place where people and their dogs can romp amid acres of green grass, wildflowers and sculptures that celebrate all the best things canine. Water, treats, agility obstacles and of course, The Dog Chapel are all there for the exploring as are trails and ponds. Inside the Dog Chapel, the walls are lovingly covered with notes and photos of dogs from all over the world---some in memory of a beloved dog, some in celebration. Stephen's wife, Gwen, and supporters of Dog Mountain are there to greet you and answer questions. A lovely store (that is dog friendly!) which carries the work of Stephen Huneck is there for you to browse for the perfect gift for a dog lover you know or yourself. Your purchase helps to keep Dog Mountain open free of charge for humans and canines from all over the world. — Mary Ramsden

The creme de la creme of 4-Season Inns, designed for dogs AND their owners in a beautiful, centrally located region of VT. The food is delicious, the accommodations fantastic, with their own agility ring, and deluxe "boarding house" if you want to get some time without "the kids." A class act, and very much worth the effort. The Paw House Inn, West Rutland, VT. — Katrina Anderson

Mystic Connecticut is a great place for dog owners.  You can take early morning walks on the water, and some of the main tourist attractions, including Mystic Seaport and Olde Mystik Village allow you to bring your dog.  There are some good outdoor dining spots, and there are plenty of chain hotels and inns that allow dogs. I've been twice with my dog Teddy the last several years, and plan to return again soon. — John Stemen

A great Fall adventure is going to Deep Creek Lake in Maryland.  Summer is full also but in the Fall the Dogs have more access to the parks. — Laurie Scible

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Dog's Life: Travel
Dog-Friendly Travel Tips - Southwest
Dozens of destinations for you and your co-pilot

From cabins in Oklahoma's San Bois Mountains to Arizona's "Christmas City," Bark readers know the best stomping spots for dogs in the Southwest.


We volunteered for a week at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary (Kanab, Utah) and it was one of the best vacations ever! We spent our days feeding, cleaning, walking and socializing the animals — giving them the best chance to be adopted. The people there were amazing, the setting is beautiful and the whole experience … inspiring. –Richard Everson


Our favorite hiking area is the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness (easy driving distance from Flagstaff, AZ). These are trails for hearty hikers, varying from 4 to 10 miles of moderate difficulty but the scenery is spectacular with rock formations and a wide range of flora plus a variety of springs. –Sara Lennon


Every summer my dogs and I head up to Lost Man Trail outside of Aspen for some serious hiking. We spend the day trekking above the timberline and taking in incredible views and the three lakes along the way. We head back to Aspen, one of the most dog-friendly cities anywhere, and treat ourselves to dinner and a soak in the tub. –Aaron Phillips


Whenever we’re in Austin, our family visits the Emma Long Metropolitan Park, for a walk along Turkey Creek Trail. Our favorite time is spring to take in the wildflowers in bloom. Our dogs love splashing in the creek. It’s an easy hike and we always pack a picnic. –Donna Cardinale


Decker Creek Bed & Breakfast & Biscuit is a great retreat for pets and people. It is located just outside of Austin, Texas. There are a couple of cabins for rent with lots of great outdoor space. This is a must do weekend getaway if you live in Texas! — Elizabeth Samuels


Take your dog(s) to Prescott, AZ—Everybody's Home Town.” It offers a large dog park, a dog-friendly town plaza and many beautiful lake and mountain trails. It is the home of the "World's Oldest Rodeo,” Whiskey Row, Thumb Butte and known as "Arizona's Christmas City.” It is also the home of our two dogs, Dugan (Shepherd mix) and Danica (Golden Retriever). —  Anthony Patricks


Anywhere we travel, we try to stay with Drury Inns. They have been very dog-friendly and safe & clean hotels for us along any of our adventures when traveling with my Jack Russell Terriers. They provide pet areas with clean-up materials outside and offer assistance with any clean-up needs you may have inside your room during your stay. I don't usually "name names" but this hotel chain has really been a reliable stop for us during our travels. — Lori Miller


Pup-friendly hiking and cabins at Robbers Cave State Park in Oklahoma’s San Bois Mountains. — Jo-Ann Shuma

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Dog's Life: Travel
Dog-Friendly Travel Tips - Midwest
Dozens of destinations for you and your co-pilot

From Woofstock in Chicago to bocce ball games in Minneapolis, Bark readers know where to find dog-friendly summer fun in the Midwest.

Going on the sandbars on the Wisconsin River: boat for miles ’til you find a secluded sandbar for your group — dogs included —  grill, swim, throw the Frisbee. Everyone has fun and stays cool. — Lisa Huber

Check out Chicago area neighborhood festivals, many of which are dog- friendly (not all, so be sure to check). One of my personal favorites is Custer’s Last Stand on Custer Ave. in Evanston in June. Besides dogs, I’ve also seen people there with parrots on their shoulders and carrying a pouch of ferrets. — Lizzi K.

Lake Superior Hiking Trail from Duluth, Minn., to the Canadian border. Tip: Leash up your dogs at trailheads, but if they’re friendly with people and other dogs, let them run free once you’re a quarter-mile out. I rarely run into more than a few people in 10 miles. — Karen Neal

Broad Ripple neighborhood in Indianapolis. Why? The Monon Trail is great for dog walking and Three Dog Bakery for starters. Best of all, numerous dog-friendly restaurants including Petite Chou, which serves frosty paws all summer; the Monon Food Company, with a large dog-friendly deck; Plump’s Last Shot, and the most popular local dog hangout, Flatwater. At The Monkey’s Tale/Jazz Cooker, you can listen to live music on the patio with your dog, provided that he or she doesn’t decide to join the band with a good howl. — Bunny Davis

We love to hang out at the leash-free Canine Country, near St. Louis, Mo., on lazy summer days. My three dogs and I take beautiful hikes and swims on 223 acres of farmland. My dogs don’t herd sheep, but there are some available to smell, along with some chickens. We even got into a tussle with a skunk. It’s truly an adventure! — Kristen Weber

We always loved Door County Wisconsin the state parks are great they all require leashes but so what there beautiful. — James Doorey

Bloomington, IN is a great place for pets and their people! With several State and National Parks within 20 minutes drive there is a ton to do, and all outdoors. Great hiking, kayaking, swimming, basically everything people and dogs love to do! There is even a local dog bakery in Nashville, IN only 20 miles away! —J Jenkins

My favorite travel spot with my dog and all previous dogs is Good Hart, Michigan. We stay in a cottage on the beach of Lake Michigan. — Patty Offenberg

We recently took a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota — the one million-acre area lies within the boundaries of the four-million-acre Superior National Forest. This is the largest designated wilderness in the eastern U.S. with 2,000 campsites, over 1,000 lakes — heaven for wilderness trekkers, paddlers and pooches. — Laura Reinhardt

Gunflint Lodge in Northeast MN. — Cathy Whitney

Here in Chicago, summer is doggie heaven. There are so many options of fun things to do here I couldn't ever list them all! Around here, they don't just call them the "dog days of summer" because of the heat. I'll list a few of my favorites. The summer mantra for Chicagoans is "cooler by the lake" and Lake Michigan is definitely the summer place to be. Unfortunately dogs are not generally allowed on the city beaches, but we make up for that by having several doggie beaches in Chicago and the suburbs. These are off leash play areas where your dog can take a dip or romp on the sand with their friends. Here is my girl Bianca at the beach. A fun and different lake option is to take a Canine Cruise! There is a cruiseline here which offers 1.5 hour cruises for dogs and their owners which go on the Chicago River and into Lake Michigan. They run on Sundays from July to September. Another fun thing to do in the summer is to go to one of the city's neighborhood festivals. We have tons of festivals scattered throughout the summer, many of which are dog friendly (not all, so be sure to check!). One of my personal favorites is Custer's Last Stand, which is held on a weekend in June around Custer Ave. in Evanston. Besides dogs, I've also seen people there with parrots on their shoulders and carrying a pouch of ferrets. The Andersonville Midsommarfest is another fun one I often attend with my dogs. There are also several pet-centered festivals and fundraisers during the summer such as Woofstock at Pooch Park. After a fun summer day, you might like to dine out with your dog. There are quite a few dog friendly patios at Chicago restaurants, where your dog is welcome to join you for dinner. If you are in the city limits you do need to check if the restaurant has a "Dog Friendly Dining" license, otherwise they legally are not supposed to allow dogs (and in all cases dogs are not allowed inside the restaurants.) This only applies to Chicago proper, I'm not sure what the rules are in the suburbs, if any. I have a list of these dog friendly restaurants on my website, Chicago Canine. Note that some may not allow dogs during certain busy times or may have other restrictions, so it is always good to call ahead and check. — Lizzi K.

In Minneapolis, there is a great dog-friendly bar. They hold dog specific events, like "Beer With Your Buddy". I will be spending the fantastic MN summer nights playing Bocce Ball and socializing with my dog. —Leslie

After our 5-month winters in Northern Wisconsin, where I live, my Newfoundlands and I look forward to the summer when we can get out on the unfrozen lakes! We have many lakes up here, but throwing a stick or ball has its limits. That's why I try to take my Newfs to the closest Water Rescue Training Workshop and/or Water Tests during our short summer. At these workshops or tests, you can actually see the Newf's face changing as he takes his job seriously, whether he is bringing out a line to someone he thinks is drowning, or pulling a boat in to shore. Whatever people do with their dogs in the summer, my opinion is that they should try to incorporate something fun that the dog was originally bred for (for mixes, finding what the dog is best at would be a fun challenge!) — Barbara Suozzi

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Dog's Life: Travel
Dog-Friendly Travel Tips - West
Dozens of destinations for you and your co-pilot

From a lovely cove at Lake Tahoe, Nev., to one of the country's best off-leash parks in Redmond, Wash., Bark readers reveal their favorite dog-oriented destinations for summer in the West.


We live in beautiful North Idaho, where we are surrounded by pristine lakes, including Lake Pend Oreille, Lake Coeur d’Alene, Spirit Lake, Hayden Lake, Priest Lake and more. We love to go kayaking, as does our two-year-old yellow Lab, Jake, who wears his own dog life vest. — Kathy Schneider


It’s anything but a secret here in Northern California, but Carmel-by-the-Sea is probably the most dog-friendly spot you can find. The beach is available for off-leash dogs, and all sizes and shapes, mutts and purebreds, romp in the surf and chase balls. Afterwards, on a walk into town, you’ll find many places that welcome dogs, including quite a few outdoor restaurants. Of course, everyone is very conscientious about poop pickup, which helps keep it a great experience. — Teddy Wilson


Zephyr Cove beach at Lake Tahoe, on the Nevada side, has a dog-friendly portion on the far end. A wonderful place to take dogs. My two learned how to swim there just last summer. —  Karis Daphne


Spend the weekend in Redmond, Wash.: The outstanding 40-acre, off-leash dog park at Marymoor Park is doggie heaven. Dogs are welcome at the Redmond Saturday Market (open from May to October), outdoor movies, restaurant patios, many stores and miles of trails. —  Mary Schilder


If you are traveling near Portland, Ore., try Sandy Delta Park; most of it is off-leash. Lots of trails and access to the Sandy River, which is great for wading and playing in, and easy on bare feet and paws. — Victoria Bettancourt


The North end of Stinson Beach, California. This is a haven for any dog who simply likes to be near the ocean and in the fresh cool air of the California coast! Just past the lifeguard stands (the public portion of Stinson Beach) dogs are free to roam off-leash and anywhere on the beach and in the waves. If you forgot the Frisbee or the the ball, not to worry...there is an endless supply of fetching sticks, beach logs and kelp ropes—not to mention the almost two miles of pure beautiful luscious sand for an afternoon of digging indulgence! — Ashley Hathaway


Haven't made it up there yet, but I am dying to take our pup Corbin to Plumpjack Squaw Valley Inn, do some hiking and hopefully swimming in the lake. I was in Squaw Valley over the winter and saw dogs everywhere! Been dying to go back with my own dog ever since. — Natalia Martinez


Hotel Indigo in San Diego rocks! There is a terrace with an enclosed dog potty area and you dog is welcome everywhere in the hotel including the restaurant and bar! — Jaqi Minyard


San Diego is a dog's paradise! We have several dog beaches, many off-leash parks, restaurants that allow dogs on the patios and outdoor malls where you can bring your dogs. It's truly the best city for a dog to live! — Maggie Alexander


Moonstone Lodge in Cambria, California. Very dog friendly accommodations in cottages. The beautiful Central California coastline with dog friendly beach areas. Dog friendly outdoor dining in town and a great big dog park for off leash fun. — Edna Ball


If you are in the California Redwoods near Eureka, California, there is a beautiful hiking trail called The Headwaters. The walk is easy with lots of dogs. Beautiful ferns, oaks, redwoods and a stream for a doggie quick-dip. I haven't been there for a year since the death of my dog, he loved it. It was our place. I advise checking it out for beauty and tranquility. —Kathe Gruenthal


Don't forget Shoup Park in Los Altos, CA. Dogs must be on leash, but there is a great stream, Adobe Creek, to play in. There are picnic tables and a tot play area for pup's human brothers and sisters. —Sheryl Keller


We go to Beach Camp with our friends from dog training class in Cayucos Beach, California. Cayucos is an extremely dog friendly town. We stay at Cayucos Beach Inn, a dog friendly hotel for all size dogs (they even have a dog potty area and a doggy bath to clean off your salty, sandy dog). We take the dogs down to the beach where they are allowed to run off leash and play. Many of the restaurants in town are dog friendly as well. We look forward to the trip all year and have a blast while we are there. —Elisa Becker


The Grey Rock hiking trail, off Poudre Canyon in Colorado, offering great scrambly-up rocks, breath-taking views for humans, and wonderful new smells (everything from deer and elk to rabbits!) to entertain the enquiring nose! — Kris Paige


My own back yard! I live an hour out of Las Vegas, in 'high plains desert', and my dog is not fond of car travel. But my Mastiff Chico likes to walk in the cool mornings, watch others swim in the pool from his spot in the shade of the patio, and then go inside for an ice cube and a nice nap on cool tile. — Pat Chapin


Are you planning your Las Vegas vacation for next March? Your furry pal enjoys nice weather too! There are various dog-friendly hotels on the strip. Don't miss out on Pet-a-Palooza every March, and enjoy the nice weather with your pup at one of the five dog parks in an 8 mile range from the south part of the strip. — Julie Plasencia


Historic Taft beach on the Oregon Coast has the best dog friendly hotel. We stayed at the Looking Glass Inn and were treated like royalty. The rooms are spacious and we got a special basket with towels, bowls, sheets( dogs can sleep on the beds) and treats. What is super great is the beach access is right out the door! There is lots of sand and driftwood to explore, not to mention sea lions swimming right off shore. Gryfyn ( my 8lb Brussel's Griffon) and I especially like seeing all the other dogs and their humans. We met a great Dane named Duke and many others. Taft is located on the South end of Lincoln City. Many great shops in walking distance. Truly doggie beach heaven. — Shelly Senter


Taking in all the Summer Dock Dog events. Great friends, wonderful dogs, and the event cant be beat for enjoying a nice summer weekend....like the one at the Bite of Seattle. — Tom Guffey


Bring your dog to Whidbey Island's Greenbank Farm. Located in the heart of Whidbey Island near Seattle, the Farm has a generous off-leash area for your dog to enjoy, with both open fields and forest providing several miles of trails. Just be sure to pick up after your puppy as the Farm is also home to organic farming programs. Enjoy wonderful loganberry pies at the Whidbey Pie Cafe or taste locally crafted afterwards. —Sharon Dunn


Our Greyhound Rescue Adoption group, Royal Hounds Greyhound Adoption, has informal walks with different names, The Ski Patrol, in the Greater Tacoma, WA. area, and the Green Lake Gallopers, in the greater Seattle area. Both groups pick different parks, trails, and other venues to walk their own personal hounds, and Greyhounds in foster care. —Lee Higley


Countless trips to the local dog park/swim area are on the agenda for Homer and I this summer, but our big adventure will be traveling to Cody, Wyoming. We've rented a house along a river and there is plenty of hiking nearby. — Kristen Hellstrom


If you're in San Francisco, visit Crissy Field and Baker Beach! Crissy Field is an off-leash dog beach with a shallow marsh for the water-averse in training. Baker Beach offers beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge and is dog and family-friendly. The cool Bay Area waters will keep your dog from overheating during warm summer days while you enjoy the sun and a picnic on the beach. — Deandra Ludovice

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Dog's Life: Travel
Au Revoir, Mes Chiens
Visiting the world’s oldest dog cemetery
Au Revoir, Mes Chiens

The French do cemeteries like no other nation. A tourist’s must-see list may include any number of Parisian cemeteries, with the most popular being the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, where sightseers pay homage to the likes of Honoré de Balzac, Marcel Proust, Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde, and the Cimetière du Montparnasse, home to many Left Bank personalities such as Charles Baudelaire, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, among others. But off the beaten track is another gem, a burial ground that pays tribute to equally well-known stars such as Rin Tin Tin and Barry, the life-saving Saint Bernard.

The Cimetière des Chiens, established in 1899, is the oldest pet cemetery in the world and has an incredible history. Yet it is rarely visited these days. Set on the banks of the Seine, in the northwest Parisian suburb of Asnières-sur-Seine, the cemetery is slightly off the usual tourist route, but it’s well worth the short métro trip and brief walk to get there.

I was the only visitor on my morning trip there in February, and my experience was something I’ll not forget. It was very moving—simultaneously depressing and uplifting—to see how the pets were loved and missed, sometimes even decades after their deaths. The stories behind each epitaph could fill a book. Some have long been celebrated; for example, Barry the Saint Bernard has a large monument at the cemetery entrance. Barry belonged to the monks of the Alpine Hospice of the Great Saint Bernard, on the Swiss / Italian border, and, the monument says, after having saved the lives of 40 people, he was killed by the 41st.

Rin Tin Tin is another famous name. The German Shepherd television hero made 26 pictures for Warner Brothers before his death in 1932. A five-day-old Rin Tin Tin, his mother and some littermates had been rescued from a bombed kennel housing war dogs in France. Taken to America by Corporal Lee Duncan and other members of his battalion after World War I, the dog quickly found fame, and is said to have received 10,000 fan letters a week. After his death, Duncan arranged for Rin Tin Tin to be returned to the country of his birth. Even today, flowers and other gifts are left on his simple tombstone.

The composer of Carnival of the Animals, Camille Saint-Saëns, chose to lay his pets to rest here, as did novelist and dramatist Georges Courteline; actor, director and writer Sacha Guitry; and numerous princes and dukes. But for me, the real attraction of the cemetery is its celebration of ordinary pets—those upon whom the spotlight never shone, who never rubbed shins with famous people but who meant the world to their families. Dogs like Emma, “the Faithful companion and only friend in my life,” or Loulou, who, in 1895 at the age of only nine months, saved the family’s child from drowning, injuring herself in the process.

Other tearjerkers include Mémère, born in 1914, who was the mascot of the infantry for 15 years during World War I. The sculpture that adorns his grave poignantly stretches out a paw to a helmeted soldier. Or Frou Frou, who died of a broken heart after the death of her mistress in 1908.

Some sites are marked with a simple plaque and name, others with a photo, and many with incredibly decorative tombs and tributes. Besides flowers, I saw bowls of tennis balls, squeaky bones, leashes, soft toys—each one special to the dog lying beneath.

Strays are also interred here. In fact, there’s a monument to the 40,000th animal buried within the graveyard’s walls: a stray dog run over by a car near the cemetery gates in 1958. Many living strays can be seen hunting around the tombs and then resting on them, sunbathing or grooming.

Dogs are not the only pets commemorated at the cemetery; cats are also buried here. The graves of horses, pet rabbits, a monkey—whose tribute reads “Sleep, my dearest. You were the joy of my life”—not to mention birds, hamsters and even fish can be found as well.

The history of the cemetery is as interesting as the stories of the pets it contains. Before it came into existence, dead animals were usually thrown into the Seine, dumped around the city or discarded with rubbish. The health implications for a crowded city were immense, and a law came into force in 1891 requiring that corpses of domestic animals be interred at least 100 meters (328 feet) from habitation and that they be covered with soil at least one meter (3.28 feet) deep. And so the Anonymous French Society of the Cemetery for Dogs and Other Domestic Animals was founded on May 2, 1899, by attorney Georges Harmois and journalist and feminist Marguerite Durand. The cemetery, the first of its kind in the world, was officially opened that summer.

Marguerite Durand was an incredible character, an actress and rebel with multiple causes. She played many roles at the Comédie-Française, and then turned to journalism—a career move that was to change her life. After being sent by Le Figaro on an undercover assignment at an international feminist conference, she became a staunch advocate of women’s rights, publishing a daily feminist newspaper, La Fronde, in 1897. A leading suffragette, she organized several trade unions for female workers, lobbied for women to be involved in law and politics, and dedicated her life to promoting women’s rights. Her other passion was animals, and she was often seen strolling around Paris parks with her pet lion, Tigre, whom she had raised as a cub in her garden. (Tigre is also buried at the cemetery that Durand was responsible for creating, but, try as I might, I couldn’t find her. It’s a good excuse for another visit next time I’m in Paris!)

The grand entrance to the cemetery, designed by renowned Parisian architect Eugène Petit, features a portal in Art Nouveau style, flanked by two entrances for pedestrians. After its creation, the cemetery became increasingly successful, but later developed chronic difficulties. It closed briefly in 1987 and endured various changes of ownership and rescue plans; since 1997, it has been managed by the Asnières town council, and its future seems secure.

In a country renowned for its adoration of le chien, it’s not surprising that people have created such a picturesque place in which to celebrate their dogs’ lives. As one inscription notes, “Lover of the sea, may the Seine cradle your final repose.”