Dog's Life: Travel
Massachusetts & Connecticut
Dog lovers and their canine companions hit the mother lode in New England, where there’s something for everyone: exhilarating hikes for outdoor adventurers, bistros and boutique hotels for urban sophisticates, and a breathtaking seacoast for those who just want to stroll on a quiet beach with their four-legged friends.
For the Urban Dog. In Boston, cosmopolitan dog lovers don’t have to leave their co-pilots at home. In the city’s gentrified South End, check out the dog run in Peters Park, or head downtown to stroll along the Charles River or explore the über touristy Faneuil Hall Marketplace (leashed dogs are allowed on Boston’s transit system, a.k.a. the T, during off-peak hours). Bunk for the night at Nine Zero Hotel, where canine guests get their own beds, bowls and treats (think chicken-broth lollipops). Across the street is the historic Boston Common, one of New England’s crown jewels and the country’s oldest public park. Head to the designated area near Charles Street, where urban hounds can romp off-leash in the early morning and evening.
For the Seafaring Dog. The happy pooches riding the ferries steaming out to Martha’s Vineyard are the first clue that this island off Cape Cod, Mass., loves canine visitors. There’s the dog-friendly farmers’ market in the rural up-island village of West Tisbury. Then there’s Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, whose spectacular barrier beach is open to dogs after sunbathers head home. And the ultimate insider spot: Trade Wind Fields Preserve in Oak Bluffs, where dogs have the run of woods and meadows circling a grass-strip airfield. Join the morning regulars who arrive around 7:30, when local canines cavort and play with their owners in tow.
For the Sophisticated Hiker. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail winds through New England on its 2,175-mile route from Georgia to Maine, and daytripping hikers love Connecticut’s 52-mile section of the famous footpath, from the windswept peak of Bear Mountain to the lovely Housatonic River. Well-mannered dogs may even spend the night in one of the trail’s lean-to shelters. Just steps away from the “AT” is the cultured enclave of Kent; snag an outdoor café table on Main Street and watch the parade of prep school parents, Manhattan weekenders and those arriving for one of the town’s many cultural events. In keeping with the artsy vibe, there’s even a gallery where pooches are welcome. Sculpturedale is an outdoor installation of life-sized steel-and-bronze giraffes, elephants, hippos and the like.
Dog's Life: Travel
A Philly legend with a national reputation
Twenty-five years ago, Judy Wicks opened the White Dog Café on the first floor of her Philadelphia brownstone, selling muffins and coffee to go. Today, the restaurant—which now takes up the entire residence, plus two adjacent houses—has a national reputation for both its award-winning cuisine and its owner’s social activism.
The restaurant’s name honors former resident Helena P. Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society (which emphasized altruism, unity and compassion in everyday life), who occupied the brownstone in 1875. The dog entered the story when Madame Blavatsky was laid low with a serious infection of the leg. Refusing to allow doctors to amputate, she addressed the problem by having a white dog lie across her leg at night, “curing all in no time.”
The café and its associated nonprofit, White Dog Community Enterprises (WDCE), have established a tradition of community-building with their support of global fair trade, environmental sustainability, socially responsible business, and peace and nonviolence. Wicks is widely recognized for her work in the local, living economies movement and has a plethora of accolades to her credit, including the distinguished James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year award.
The White Dog Café celebrates its 25th anniversary on September 12 with a “Dance of the Ripe Tomatoes” block party. You can pay $45 for the event (profits are earmarked for the Philadelphia Fair Food Project, one of WDCE’s signature causes), or just show up and dance with your dog for free. If you miss the anniversary party, all is not lost; you and your well-behaved pup are always welcome at the café’s outdoor tables.
White Dog Café
Dog's Life: Travel
See the world, lend a hand
Many animal lovers find that visits to exotic locales can be more upsetting than enjoyable. The sight of abandoned or neglected dogs and cats can not only ruin a trip, but will often stick with them long after they return home.
Volunteering with an animal welfare organization is a great way to experience new places without feeling like a helpless observer. Today, these kinds of global opportunities are easier than ever to find (see the World Society for the Protection of Animals’ new database of volunteer opportunities at Compassionate Travel), and you don’t have to be a vet to be useful. The most coveted quality in any volunteer is simply a love of animals.
“Non-veterinary volunteers are especially welcome,” emails John Dalley of the Soi Dog Foundation in Phuket, Thailand. “The dogs at the shelter love it when volunteers come, because then they receive the kind of one-on-one attention that our Thai staff just doesn’t have time to give.”
The intrepid traveler can see a good part of the globe this way. In Indonesia, Janice Girardi, founder of the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA), is increasingly dependent upon volunteer help to make a difference in the lives of the islands’ estimated 500,000 stray dogs.
In addition to needing assistance with day-to-day animal care, Girardi welcomes communications and public relations help, as well as people who are good with kids and interested in conducting educational seminars at Bali’s international schools. She’d also like to find a volunteer jewelry designer to create an animal welfare line.
BAWA is located in Ubud, Bali’s art center and home to lots of inexpensive housing and good restaurants. Depending on a volunteer’s skill set and length of stay, Girardi may be able to provide some basic financial support and, at the very least, transport to and from the airport.
If Europe is more appealing, Inside/Out, a tour company that combines humanitarian projects with adventure travel, scheduled a trip to the Zagoria region of Greece for 10 days in June to help local animal activists improve conditions for dogs. Participants helped construct feeding stations for strays, and then took an eco-tour of the region; part of the tour cost supported the project work. The organization plans additional animal welfare projects in Greece and hopes to expand into other countries as well. Future projects may include educational and hands-on animal assistance work or participation in spay/neuter programs.
On the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, the Vieques Humane Society offers “rustic” accommodations to anyone who’ll commit to 30 hours of work in the course of a week. President and volunteer coordinator Barbara Rumore welcomes all manner of help—from fundraising and community outreach to yard work and dog bathing. Photographers (and their equipment) are also encouraged to come and take photos of the animals up for adoption. An extra perk for volunteers is the chance to escort an animal that has just been adopted on a flight to its new home on the U.S. mainland.
Lynn Morgan, of Moretown, Vt., who has a background in nursing, spent time at the Vieques Shelter feeding dogs, cleaning cages and assisting the vets. “It was really rewarding,” she says, adding that the apartment had ocean views and a lovely sea breeze. “It was a great way to meet people, and everyone was so grateful to have the help. I’m definitely planning to go back.”
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
How to find the perfect car for your perfect pup
Source: Manufacturers’ websites, Edmunds.com, ConsumerReports.org, Caranddriver.com
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Who knew the wilderness could be so ... wild?
Not long after the Great Mummy Bag Incident, I begin the search for a new sleeping bag. I want one that doesn’t taper. One that isn’t form-fitted like my mother’s Playtex 18-hour girdle. One in which I and my two Miniature Dachshunds, Cooper and Isis, can sleep without starring in an M.C. Escher puzzle.
There it is! Right there on page nine of REI’s Memorial Day Closeout Catalog, the “Bark”-o-lounger of bags, among a graveyard of retail goods no self-respecting outdoor enthusiast would be caught dead buying. It’s bright green, rectangular, and zips open to lie flat. It’s 29 bucks. I call ahead to reserve one for pickup in Seattle.
An impossibly fit kid greets me in Customer Service—his spiky hair looks like even it gets a regular workout. He hauls out a box the size of a dorm-room fridge, hefts it onto the counter and scowls at me from around it.
“Before I sell this to you,” he warns, “promise me you’re not going hiking with this … thing.” He’s doing mental exercises, imagining what it would take to haul this puppy up to base camp.
“Don’t worry,” I assure him. “It’ll never go farther than 10 feet from the trunk of the car to the tent.”
He hesitates. He needs proof.
“Seriously,” I say, “do we look like heavy-duty hikers to you?”
He elevates an eyebrow as if to say, Are “we” speaking in the royal we? He hasn’t noticed the attractive red and blue loops around my wrist, the leashes leading to color-coordinated harnesses and sweaters below. I point. He leans. The Wee Beasties are sitting politely at my feet. Well, not exactly. Isis is begging for freeze-dried ice cream from passersby, and Cooper is semi-sitting (how low can you go?) but not touching his tender weenie hindquarters to the cold concrete.
Fit Kid believes me now and sells me my sofa-slipcover-sized bag.
One June day later, the bag and the pups and I are in Florence, Ore. The Wonder Wieners have spent themselves on the coast, sniffing flotsam and rolling in jetsam. They stink of jellyfish and seaweed. They’re blissed out, sleeping it off in the backseat in their My Buddy double-dog lookout.
Meanwhile, I’m on the lookout for a place where I can sleep tonight. I know two rules for Oregon campground occupation: One, dogs must be on leash. Two, campground reservations are required. The former is rarely enforced. The latter, always. Do we have reservations? No. We have, as they say in the vernacular, screwed the pooch.
I stop into the Siuslaw National Forest Ranger Station to assess my options. A friendly ranger informs me there is hope for us yet. “Well, there’s that old horse camp, up to the woods at Devil’s Elbow. Hardly nobody ever uses it anymore. Turn up Forest Service Road 52, go ’bout three miles, there’ll be a clearing. There’s a fire ring up there and a vault toilet [translation: hole in the ground].” Good enough for me. Camp is free.
The first mile looks promising. We wind up into the hills on a newly paved and painted road. I catch the first glimpses of sunset in the rearview mirror. The second mile gets dicey. The road ends, becoming a washboard dirt trail that rises steeply into the mountains. I begin to doubt.
About 2.4 miles in, we round the corner and there sits a black bear, contentedly munching away on a blackberry bush. I brake to a sudden stop.
Rudely awoken, Isis gazes bleary-eyed out the window. Seeing said bear, she goes into full point: paw up, tail rigid, ears cocked, nose twitching. She is so excited, she gasps, sounding like something between the last wail of a slain squeak toy and the noise you make when trying to talk while breathing in. Cooper is clueless. He wags, once. What?
Unperturbed, the bear finishes his berries, licks his paw and ambles off into the thick underbrush. Cooper finally gets it. He barks, once. Look!
My doubt deepens. Is it safe to camp within a half-mile radius of a bear’s den? Why didn’t I bring bear bells to tie to the tent’s guy lines? Will the Dachsie Twins act as an early warning system, or will we become bear steak with hush puppies tonight? I imagine lying low in the tent. I hear the shuffling, the snuffling. I feel hot blackberry breath on my neck … trapped in a big bag as claws rip through rip-stop nylon!!!
Isis whines from the backseat. I thought I saw a bear! It pulls me out of my mental hysterics. Get real. That bear isn’t going to bother us. Screw it, we’re going on.
We make it to the campsite to find it already occupied by a woman and five boys between the ages of eight and 13. They’ve taken over the place, and it looks like they’re here to stay. The youngest gathers branches, the oldest chops wood with an ax and another stacks it. Two of the kids run around a crummy trailer parked on cinder blocks. Doubt is replaced by dread.
The woman wanders over. I roll down the window. I stumble through small talk as I try to picture the three of us fitting anywhere into this melee. Almost as an afterthought, I say to her, “By the way, I saw a bear down the road a ways. Just thought you’d like to know.”
“I ain’t worried. My boys got their .22s,” she drawls. Dread, meet despair.
My first thought: A .22 will do little more than sting the bear, sending him into a royally pissed-off rampage through camp, where our little one-person/two-dog tent is a much softer target than their trailer. My second revelation: An eight-year-old with a rifle is as likely to shoot me in the dark as he is to shoot the bear. My final realization: Come bear or boy wonder, there is no way in hell we’re sleeping at Devil’s Elbow tonight.
Sure enough, on our way back down the road, there’s the bear, resuming his berry meal by twilight. Seeing us, he huffs in annoyance and again ambles off. Isis has found her voice. I did, I did see a bear! Cooper barks, twice. Isn’t that—??
The sun dips into the ocean as we wind our way back down the road. Our last hope gone, we pull onto the side of the road somewhere in the middle of nowhere. That night, as the stinky, suction-cup pups and I cram into the backseat of the Toyota Prius, the comforts of our cushy bag are completely lost to us.
It isn’t long, however, before we are able to revel in its roominess. A few weeks later, back in Washington, we finally get to spread out in the sleeping bag and drift off to dreamland, ten legs intertwined, in the tent, as intended. It is every bit as spacious and glorious as I’d hoped, and the only bears around are Ursa Major and Minor, sparkling in the night sky.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
A camping trip with two Dachshunds is an exercise in futility
I buy a new tent, on sale, at REI’s flagship store in Seattle. I am going camping for the first time since I was 12, when my parents were in charge of setting up the tent. No, wait, I think I’ve been camping once since. My husband set up that tent.
I’m no dummy. My mother taught me, and told me often, that practice makes perfect. I read the instructions and set up and take down the tent in the store before I purchase it. Next, I set up the tent up in our living room. My two Miniature Dachshunds, Cooper and Isis, watch, captivated, from the couch, where they are perched on their Calvin Klein pillows. It takes me 20 minutes. Later that same morning, I set up the tent in the front yard. This time it only takes 10 minutes, including the process of putting stakes in the ground. I cut my time in half! Victory dance.
When I’m done, I put bits of freeze-dried chicken in the corners of the tent. I call my dogs by their nicknames, Pumpkin and Sweet Pea, and duck out of sight. Before long, I hear crunching sounds. Coop ‘n’ Isis now believe that magical things happen in this food-producing structure.
I’m not satisfied yet. In the afternoon, I set the tent up in our back yard. Seven minutes from bag to full glory. Yesssss! I put it away even faster when it starts to drizzle. I don’t want my waterproof tent to get wet and develop that musty eau-de-camp scent so soon.
A month and a half later, it’s time for the real deal. With plenty of daylight left, I get to the first campground in Port Townsend. It’s full for the night. All 88 sites are booked—in mid-March? Turns out there’s a Victorian Festival this weekend at the state park. Oka-ay.
By the time I get to Sequim, the next closest campsite, it is dark. That special kind of pitch-black dark that occurs only in the dense tree cover of the Olympic National Forest. Not to worry! I brought a powerful standing light that plugs into the cigarette lighter of the car.
Before I set up the tent, I put a chain stake in the ground and attach the dogs’ leashes to it, the kind of leashes that extend up to 16 feet. As I start to set up, Isis immediately decides she has to be in the tent. Throughout the process, she goes in and out.
In. It’s cold outside.
Out. What’s Mom doing?
In. It’s really cold.
Out. But this is fascinating!
In. Any chicken bits in here?
Out. Hey, Mom, where are the chicken bits?
In. That’s it. I zip the flap so she can’t get back out.
Up to this point, Cooper has amused himself by inspecting every fallen pine cone within leash radius for edibility. Now, he panics. His sister is in the tent and he is not. Surely he is missing out on chicken bits. He circles the tent, wrapping his leash around it, searching for a way in.
Meanwhile, I’ve gone to the trunk of the car to get the stakes. On my way, I trip over the cord to the light, plunging us into darkness. Cooper yelps. I open the car door. The roof light! Cooper lunges for the light, pulling the leash taut, collapsing the tent with Isis still inside. Isis yelps.
My precious darlings, once Pumpkin and Sweet Pea, are now Pestilence and Plague. I unclip Plague and toss him in the car. Plug in the light. Unearth Pestilence from the folds of the tent and toss her in after him. I look at the dash clock. Thirty-six minutes have passed.
I resurrect the tent and stake it down. Back to the trunk to get the waterproof shell. On the return trip, I trip. Over the light cord again. Darkness. Cursing. Open the car door. Tell the dogs to STAY. Plug in the light again.
The light is extinguished in this manner one more time, on my way from the car to the tent with my king size pillow; three wool blankets; one 400-thread count, cotton cover, Laura Ashley down blanket; and a sleeping bag, the kind they call a mummy bag, which is narrow at the foot and wider at the top. I layer the blankets, with the mummy bag underneath. Finally. Ready to bed down for the night.
Slowly and insidiously, my two burrowing hounds make their way to the bottom of the bag, tangling themselves in my feet. I lie on my back, but can’t sleep in that position. I turn to lie on my side, and one dog moves to the curve behind my legs, another to the curve in front of my stomach. They curl into donut-dog position. The arm I’m lying on hurts. I roll over on my stomach. The dogs adjust, flattening out into dog-logs on either side of me.
Because I don’t have a sleeping pad, the cold, hard ground seeps first into my flesh, then my bones. The only way I’ll be warm and comfortable is to have the mummy bag on top. I ruthlessly dump the dogs out of the depression at the bottom of the bag, re-layer the blankets, adjust the pillow and—at last, at last—lie down for the final time.
I look at the lighted screen of my cell phone, which displays the time. One hour and 49 minutes have passed since we pulled into the park. The dogs burrow in again, turn a few times, scratch, lick their paws, lie down and heave those profoundly contented dog sighs. My muscles unclench, my breathing slows. I am warm, comfortable, exhausted. I should sleep like a baby.
I have to pee.
POSTSCRIPT: A few months later, we stayed at a free national forest campground near Hebo, Ore., and set up camp in a field, near a black Lab sitting with an old-timer working a flintlock. We talked to the man—who turned out to be a retired forest service employee—the next morning. He said to me, “Well, I was watching you, and I thought to myself, ‘Now, there’s a gal who knows how to set up camp!’” What was that saying about not being able to teach an old dog new tricks?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Distinctive gardens put visitors in the frame
Columbus, Ohio, is the home of two unusual and beautiful gardens, each of which takes well-known art from flat to three-dimensional in unique ways. At the Topiary Park on the grounds of the former Ohio School for the Deaf, sculptor James T. Mason designed, created and installed the metal frames and yew trees that are trimmed into a living representation of Georges Seurat’s famous Post-Impressionist painting, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. The only topiary garden in existence based on a work of art, it includes 54 people, boats, dogs, a monkey, a cat and a pond reminiscent of the River Seine; the largest figure is 12 feet tall.
Less than two miles away from the Topiary Park is Thurber House, former residence of hometown favorite and New Yorker humorist James Thurber. Today, the house is a literary center and museum of Thurber materials. Thanks to a garden-loving benefactor, men, women, children and dogs can enjoy the Thurber Centennial Reading Garden, with its dogwoods, bayberries, vibernum and flowers—and larger-than-life-size Thurber dogs, created by sculptor Dale Johnston. Four of the dogs frolic amidst the greenery, while in the center of the garden, a fifth dog perches on top of a fountain .
Note: Both of these garden destinations are for people only.
Dog's Life: Travel
Mozart’s music inspires a visit to Vienna, but the city’s dogs are its real charmers.
The iron-on appliqué of Mozart’s head, hair powdered and pulled back into a ponytail, started peeling off the tote bag before we hit the airport on our return flight from Vienna.
My daughter Elizabeth, a classical musician, bought the bag on our pilgrimage to Mozart’s favorite city in celebration of the 250th anniversary of his birth. We chose the Austrian capital for our annual mother-daughter trip for many reasons, including the uniqueness of the opportunity. It is unlikely I’ll make it to his 300th celebration.
Mozart’s Vienna didn’t quite live up to my daughter’s expectations. The composer’s apartment—one of many in which he lived—functions as a small museum. Inside, long lines of visitors shuffle between the exhibits, which are about as exciting as a visit to the DMV. In the basement of the remodeled building, the gift shop’s bins and shelves overflowed with “Mozartiana”—umbrellas, candy and the ubiquitous tote bag, all boasting the composer’s kisser. It was a lot like Disney World, only without the mouse ears and sidekick named Goofy.
The composer and one-time child protégé’s ghost haunts the orderly city streets. Cheap T-shirts stamped with Mozart’s image stretch across the stomachs of legions of visitors rummaging through the shops. Countless signs bear his likeness. And young men, garbed in musty velvet costumes, mill around tourist attractions, selling tickets to performances of his work. Still, this was Mozart’s favorite city. I understood his affection. But while Vienna paraded Mozart, it was the city’s dogs who captured my heart.
The Viennese adore their pets and take them everywhere as naturally as mothers carry their children. Although banned from some places, the animals maintain an astonishing, yet delightful, presence. So, while Elizabeth doggedly tracked Mozart, I watched dogs.
On our first night in Vienna, we dined at a Thai restaurant around the corner from our hotel, where an enormous dog the color of fresh-grated ginger snoozed in front of the door. As we mounted the outside steps, the animal’s owner said something to him. The dog rose and stretched as gracefully as a ballet dancer at the barre, then sauntered to the other side of the table and dropped bonelessly back to the floor. Leaning against his owner’s legs, he resumed his nap. We were impressed. No dog we’ve owned has ever been as gracious.
We did meet one unhappy little dog whose lack of gracious behavior must have landed him in the doggie equivalent of time-out. This fellow, accompanied by his owners, occupied a corner of one of the city’s spotless, efficient underground trains. The dog looked like he’d stuck his head in a birdcage. Intrigued, Elizabeth inquired about him. The couple told us that a propensity for chomping the occasional stray digit provided impetus for the odd contraption. The dog looked grumpy. His humans did not.
Our hotel was tucked into a tranquil corner not far from Stephansplatz. Most afternoons, the hotel manager’s spare little golden mutt strained against her tether at her post near the front desk, soliciting caresses from guests. I told the desk clerk about the odd cage-like muzzle on the out-of-sorts dog on the train, and she explained darkly that biting dogs are not tolerated in Vienna. I did not ask their fate.
Dogs must sense Vienna suffers no nonsense, for the ones we saw behaved flawlessly. They are allowed in most stores in the Stephansdom Quarter near the hotel. In fact, Stephansplatz—the square at St. Stephen’s, a Gothic cathedral at the heart of the city—is a dog-watcher’s nirvana. Dogs lead their owners in circles around the church and through the web of touristy stores and open-air restaurants that ring it. One Terrier-mix, keeping pace with his owner, even carried his own leash.
A pastry shop on the corner served frothed melange—a cappuccino-type of coffee—by the gallon. The glass cases faced the street and beckoned passersby with their yards of flaky pastries—some named after Mozart—and fragrant dark chocolate and apricot Sacher torts. Inside, in a room that smelled of cinnamon and coffee, a small spotted dog begged back-scratches from the restaurant’s patrons as Mozart played in the background.
Have the Viennese always been dog people? That, I do not know, but I suspect so. Mozart had at least one dog during his lifetime, although he is more famous for owning a sparrow. It is said he gave the dog, Bimpes, the nickname “Bimperl.” I have no idea what “Bimperl” means, if anything, but I heard that a chocolate company immortalized the dog with a statue somewhere in Vienna. I asked around, but no one seemed to know anything about it.
Vienna itself is very clean, even with all the dogs. Of course, the tidy Viennese have lessened the chances of stepping in dog droppings by sprinkling little parks around the city. The parks are equipped with “waste disposal” stations.
During our last afternoon in Vienna, we passed a little dog park near the Neue Burg, a cluster of small specialty museums. Inside the mini-park, a dog the approximate size of a European car frolicked among the clipped bushes, trying to make friends with another dog with the dimensions of a bread box. In front of the museum, city residents with the day off took advantage of the mild weather and allowed their animals to slip their leashes. The dogs engaged in polite play on the manicured green lawn.
Vienna’s skies had turned gray while we strolled among the drums and stringed instruments. The first drops of rain fell as we left the museum, and umbrellas popped open like mushrooms as people scurried to shelter. The wet weather reminded me of something I’d heard—that it had rained when Mozart was buried in a communal grave following his death on December 5, 1791. According to legend, the deluge kept the composer’s friends and family away from the burial. But, the story says, his faithful dog stayed beside him until the last shovel-full of earth fell on his grave.
The keepers of Mozart’s Viennese connection don’t encourage speculation about his mysterious death. They counter romantic rumors that he was murdered with logical explanations of 18th-century mortality. They say although a spendthrift and a gambler, he died in debt, but not as a pauper, and shared graves were traditional at the time. They also claim that, if indeed it did rain the day he was buried, even a heavy downpour would not have kept away his wife and close friends, of which he had many. The part about Mozart’s dog staying to the very end, though, I am sure is true.
That’s just the way dogs are.
The rain tapered off as we returned to our hotel. We passed through the glistening streets around the gaunt old cathedral in Stephansdom, and looked for a jewelry store to complete our shopping before the next day’s departure. A woman inside one of the shops caught my eye. We stepped inside.
She tapped the top of the display case with one rose-enameled fingernail. The clerk behind the counter nodded, unlocked the case and pulled a sparkling watch from the velvet interior. She placed it on a swath of soft, rich fabric draped on the countertop and said something in rapid German.
The customer studied the watch while balancing a wiggling bundle of fur in her arms. Sighing, she kissed the top of the dog’s fluffy head and placed him on the floor. He strained on his leash, tail beating like the heart of a small bird.
“May I?” I asked in English, as I bent to pat the little dog.
The watch forgotten, she smiled, scooped the animal up and held him for us to appreciate. “Schatzie’s such a good dog,” she said, in excellent English. “He loves to give kisses, my little Schatzie.”
I leaned forward and Schatzie gave me kisses while the lady beamed. The sales clerk raised one eyebrow while the customer and I exchanged pleasantries. With a final pat on the puppy’s head, we left the store as twilight deepened, our purchases stashed in the Mozart tote bag that swung from Elizabeth’s arm.
As we walked back to the hotel, Elizabeth shifted closer to my side to allow a man and his dog to pass. The dog, large, brown and nondescript, brushed by, its tail moving back and forth in great, slow sweeps. Elizabeth laughed as it thumped her. Holding my arm, her body molded to mine, we walked with the same rhythm, our heels hitting the cobblestones in unison.
And the dog, his shaggy tail a metronome for the ageless heartbeat of Mozart’s city, pattered ahead until the crowds closed behind him.
Dog's Life: Travel
It’s a dog’s world at Sun Valley, Idaho
Locals often refer to the resort community of Sun Valley, Idaho, as “God’s country,” but as a visit to this heavenly town will surely tell you, it’s also a dog’s world. On any given day, dogs run alongside their families on the cross-country ski trails, dine with them outside on the doggy deck at Galena Lodge, or lie in the sun at Tully’s Coffee, which, like most businesses in town, provides water bowls for its canine clientele.
Residents of Sun Valley not only enjoy the outdoors themselves, they love sharing it with their dogs. Of the more than 120 km of groomed trails in the North Valley Trail system, nearly half are dog-friendly. Even more astounding, of the 4,000 trail passes that were issued last winter, nearly 1,000 were for family dogs.
Tucked away in central Idaho’s Wood River Valley, Sun Valley is America’s first great winter resort, founded in 1936 by the Union Pacific Railroad Company. It quickly became Hollywood’s playground, and Gary Cooper, Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe could be seen schussing down Bald Mountain or relaxing at the Sun Valley Lodge, where, in 1939, Ernest Hemingway wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls. Dogs were a ubiquitous part of this glittering mix.
Celebrity guests were met at the Ketchum train station by dog teams and mushed around town and to the lodge. Sun Valley also had its share of mascots, whose photos are still displayed in the lodge’s lobby. One of them, a Labrador named Frostie, became internationally known for his skiing skills. The dog’s prowess was aided by the equipment designed for him by a local ski instructor: a scooter-like contraption on skis, with little toe straps for his back paws and handlebars on which he could rest his front paws. When Frostie reached the bottom of the run, he’d quickly jump off his skis, take the rope in his mouth and run back up the hill, ready for another ride.
Visiting Sun Valley? Join the owner of Sun Valley Sled Dog Adventures, Brian Camilli, for a ride behind his great team of Alaskan Huskies. Purchase a day pass for yourself and your dog and enjoy the trails. Accompany the dogs from the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley, a no-kill facility, on one of their weekly public hikes. And, if you’re visiting on the first Saturday in March, look for the “Paw & Pole” event, a shelter fund-raiser in which cross-country skiers and their dogs compete in races and win special prizes for best costumes.
Though there’s lots of fun for dogs in Sun Valley, not all of the area’s canine residents spend their days trail-running or being treated to holistic healing, acupuncture or massage therapy—many of them also have jobs. During ski season, trained search and avalanche rescue dogs are on active duty with local ski patrols, and over the years, they have been instrumental in recovering victims and saving lives.
Long may Sun Valley’s dogs run!
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