Dog's Life: Travel
Dog Friendly Marfa, TX and Asheville, NC
Pack up and head for a Winter Escape
Chimney Rock State Park

Asheville, North Carolina
A progressive southern Appalachian city, Asheville’s just the right size: big enough to offer lots of variety and accessible enough to feel welcoming. Plus, it’s full of dog-friendly places. For indoor fun, don’t miss the Battery Park Book Exchange, where it’s “books by the thousands, wine by the glass.” At the Espresso Dog Bar, dogs eat and drink for free (people, however, pay). Walk off all that fun on the city’s Urban Trail, or, a little farther afield, visit Chimney Rock State Park and hike some of North Carolina’s best trails, or the Carl Sandburg Home, a national historic site, where admission to the grounds is free and your on-leash dog is welcome on the trails that wind through the forested grounds or climb to the top of Big Glassy Mountain. And don’t forget the dog parks: Azalea Dog Park, which has big dog/small dog fenced areas, and the Asheville Dog Park (also fenced), part of French Broad River Park, get good reviews from locals.

When it’s time to settle down for the night, there’s a raft of options, starting with Barkwells’ fabulous cabins, acres of fenced meadows and dog-loving amenities. For a historical venue, check out Applewood Manor Inn B&B, the Reynolds Mansion or the Biltmore Village Inn, which is closest to the Biltmore Estate. There, don’t miss Cedric’s Tavern (named after one of George Vanderbilt’s beloved dogs), or the Creamery, both of which have outdoor seating your dog can share with you.

Marfa, Texas
You might be able to get a little bit deeper in the heart of Texas than Marfa, but why would you? Here, it’s all about the long West Texas horizon (think Giant, the classic movie filmed here in the ’50s), gorgeous winter skies and the bohemian community that has sprung up around the Chinati Foundation, a mecca for modern art and a destination for its connoisseurs. Chinati is the creation of minimalist sculptor Donald Judd, who moved here in the late 1970s and converted an old army barracks into galleries in which to display his work as well as that of John Chamberlain and Dan Flavin.

Marfa may be small, but it has a dog-friendly eatery. Squeeze, across from the Presidio County Courthouse, serves up a mean breakfast and lunch as well as an astounding list of healthy drinks and smoothies; enjoy them on the patio with your pal. The Thunderbird, a retro 1950s, locally run hotel, offers a pool and unpretentious, dog-friendly hospitality. However, the go-to spot for intrepid travelers and their dogs has to be El Cosmico, 18 acres of funky coolness dotted with refurbished vintage trailers, modern yurts, safari tents and teepees. Liz Lambert, who opened El Cosmico in 2009, calls it “part … campground, part creative lab.” An open-air bathhouse and cooking area are among its charms. (Not quite so charming are the goatheads, spiny seeds that can play rough with dogs’ paws; if your dogs will wear them, bring booties.)

Dog's Life: Travel
Dog-Friendly Farm Stays
Unleashing our inner farm dog.

Tap into rural pleasures (just-picked pears, clucking chickens, muddy boots) during a pet-friendly farm stay. Well-behaved dogs are welcome at the aptly named Dog Mountain Farm in Carnation, Wash., where organic orchards, vineyards and gardens supply scrumptious scenery and farm dinners. And in the East Coast, there’s the 200-acre Champlain Valley Alpacas farm in bucolic Bridport, Vt. — milk goats, learn to spin — good dogs and horses too are welcomed.

Dog's Life: Travel
Dog-Friendly Travel Along Oregon Coast
Have Dog, Will Travel
The Oregon Coast

If dog heaven were a place on earth, it would look a lot like the Oregon coast. All 363 miles of beach are publicly accessible and only a few are closed to dogs. Endless trails through lush forests offer a respite from the wind and salty sea. Hotels vie for the privilege of pampering you and your dog with complimentary chew toys, cozy beds and fireplaces.

Best Dog Beaches
At Cannon Beach, there is always a perfect stick within reach, and the whole town is bunny-scented. Dogs and owners alike love visiting because the city follows Ocean Shore rules, which state that while leashes are not specifically required, physical control must be maintained. Cape Meares and Pacific City are good options for solitude seekers.

Dog-Friendly Accommodations
For a romantic splurge, check in at the elegant Cannery Pier Hotel in Astoria. Dog beds are provided for canine guests as well as baskets overflowing with healthy dog treats and other thoughtful extras. Pets love taking in the sights, sounds and smells of birds, sea lions, fish and boats on the Columbia River from balconies jutting out from each room, while their owners enjoy a good Pinot Noir by the fire. Alternately, experience the ultimate in modern design at the Coast Cabins in Manzanita. The owners left the city and moved to Manzanita for their Weimaraner, Cameron. They know how to live and how to treat a dog like royalty.

Surfsand Resort, the Ocean Lodge and the Inn at Cannon Beach are noteworthy family-friendly places in Cannon Beach that celebrate your pet’s arrival with a welcome basket. Warm pet washes with towels are available throughout the properties for sandy dogs. Jacuzzis and fireplaces are provided for humans.

Great news for glampers: 15 yurts and four cabins in 13 Oregon State Park campgrounds along the coast opened up to pets in 2012. Visit Oregon Parks and Recreation Department online for a list of pet-friendly yurts and cabins and to make reservations.

Dog Events Worth a Trip
The Doggie Olympic Games in Long Beach, Wash., across the river from Astoria, are held June 15–16. Competitive events open to your pet include the Luciano Pavarotti Commemorative Sing-Off, the Peanut Butter Lick and the Rip Van Winkle Sleep-Off. Manzanita’s Muttzanita is a lot of fun, with a Chuckit toss, mutt massages and a pet parade (August 18). Surfsand Resort’s 15th Annual Dog Show in Cannon Beach is on October 20. Categories include Best Tail Wag and So Ugly You’re Cute.

Travel Kit for a Smooth Visit
Pack a flashlight, towel, blanket, food, water, leash, first aid kit (remember hydrogen peroxide, Pepto Bismol and tweezers), lint roller and pet bags.

Dog's Life: Travel
Dude Ranch
Dog days at Canada’s Flying U

Meadow made a beeline for the bed; the cabin was cool and dark, and she was ready for a nap. This was our third day of exploring trails at the Flying U Ranch, Canada’s oldest guest ranch, and Meadow and Maia, my two- and four-year-old Malamutes, were both happily tired after trotting alongside me and Louis, my trusty steed. In the space of three days, we had covered about 50 miles.

The Flying U is my favorite place on the planet. A dog lover who hates the thought of vacationing without my girls, I was ecstatic to learn about a dude ranch that not only lets you ride unguided on its 43,000 acres, but welcomes dogs as well.

The ranch is located in the Cariboo area of British Columbia, a drive of six hours from Seattle or five hours from Vancouver. Guests and their dogs stay in rustic cabins with comfy hand-hewn log beds, wood-burning stoves and electricity. Everyone shares a central shower/toilet house and sauna. The ranch includes a general store, saloon, a small movie theater and Saturday-night dances to live music. Guests are assigned horses suited to their riding ability for the duration of their stay, and may ride on their own or with other guests daily between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Meals are included, served at 8 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. in the common dining hall, and guests may request a sack lunch to maximize their time on the trail.

For dog lovers, a special attraction is the ability to vacation with their dogs in a part of British Columbia known for its extraordinary beauty. The Flying U sits at 3,500' elevation, and is covered in aspen and pine trees, with several large, open meadows and small lakes. You can ride winding trails through the woods, or gallop through the fields. Part of the charm is exploring, wondering if you’re lost, and then realizing that if you just give your horse his head, you’ll be back at the ranch by the 4 o’clock curfew. The horses, accustomed to having dogs around, are incredibly gentle. When Meadow stopped in the middle of the trail, Louis gently nudged her butt with his nose, and Maia and Louis frequently touched noses to get better acquainted. Meadow and Maia learned to move to the side of the trail when the horses started trotting or galloping, and delighted in running alongside. And yes, like most dogs, they consider horse dung a special amenity.

To date, I’ve been to the ranch six times, and have always met wonderful people there. This year I visited both in April and in late September, when the aspen were changing color. In September I rode with a group that included two dogs— Lula Belle, a Poodle, and Tillie, a mini Aussie. Lula Belle’s human, Lisa Garbrick, said she’s been bringing Lula to the ranch for five years. Lula enjoys rolling in the equine and bovine by-products, and Lisa lets her have her fun. When Lula’s done, Lisa simply throws her in nearby Green Lake to wash her off. Lisa mentioned that, to avoid exposing Lula to snickers from the ranch hands, she doesn’t give Lula a typical Poodle cut before coming to the ranch. Lula gains their respect, however, by running alongside the horses all day, day after day, and still having the energy to swim and play in the evenings. (Dogs that aren’t in such good shape are welcome to stay in their cabin while their human is out riding.)

The Fremlins have always welcomed dogs to the ranch. In fact, their philosophy is, “if the dog can vouch for you, you can stay.” The only—very mild—complaint I’ve ever heard voiced was about dogs on the beds; in the interest of good manners, guests should provide a cover if their dogs are so inclined (as mine are . . . eventually). The first night, my girls sleep outside, listening to the coyotes howling and keeping a keen eye on the nearby horses. By the second night, they ask to come in around midnight to sleep on the bed—they’ve put in a few miles by this point, and a soft sleeping area feels good. By the third and fourth nights, there’s virtually no room for me in the bed from the time it gets dark! We all sleep soundly at the ranch, lulled by the sounds of the wilderness. And did I mention how beautiful the night sky is in that big, open country?

Dog's Life: Travel
Readers' Tips for Dog-Friendly Summer Excursions
dog in paddle boat

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

It’s anything but a secret here in Northern California, but Carmel-by-the-Sea is probably the most dogfriendly 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

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

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

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. Best of all, dogs can attend the annual Vermont Brewers Festival on the waterfront in late July.
— Cindy Kilgore

The beautiful beach at Cape San Blas, Fla., is petfriendly 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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out Chicago area neighborhood festivals, many of which are dogfriendly (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.

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

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

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

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

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 mustgo every summer for us.
— Laurelin Sitterly

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

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

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

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

Dog's Life: Travel
Destinations: San Francisco’s Presidio
Dog-friendly beaches and heavenly hikes.
Romping at Crissy Field

Few places rival the Presidio for its breathtaking hiking atmosphere —the spicy fragrances of eucalyptus and pine, dense drifts of fog, Andy Goldsworthy’s celebrated environmental art — and the sheer beauty of its vistas, from the sweep of the Pacific Ocean to the City skyline. Situated on 1,491 acres of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco, the Presidio was previously a military post — first under Spanish rule, then Mexican, then American — for more than two centuries before it was folded into the National Park Service in the early 1990s. It also happens to be a favorite among West Coast dog people.

The Inn at the Presidio
Cited as the nation’s largest historicpreservation project, the Presidio now boasts a new dream destination for canine visitors: the Inn at the Presidio. The 22-room luxury hotel occupies the newly renovated Pershing Hall, a 1904 Colonial Revival building at the center of the Presidio’s Main Post. The inn, which is set to open on April 1, features two communal front porches where dogs are free to socialize. And inside, canine guests are treated like top brass — each room’s outfitted with a dog bed, bowls and welcome goodie bags. On those crisp, cool San Francisco days, dogs can curl up next to the gas fireplace standard in each suite.

Want to get up and go? Just step outside the hotel doors onto the (onleash) Ecology Trail and follow it through the Presidio’s largest watershed, Tennessee Hollow, then — if you’re feeling adventurous — on to Inspiration Point. The inn has a twodog maximum per reservation, but no size limit per pet. They charge a onetime cleaning fee of $40 when you visit with your dog(s).

Presidio Area Walks
Palace of Fine Arts + Wave Organ A visual marvel designed by renowned architect Bernard Maybeck and built on land reclaimed from the Bay, the Palace of Fine Arts is a striking rotunda dating back to the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. The nearby Exploratorium, a favorite interactive kids’ science museum, includes a hidden gem well worth a visit too — continue north from the museum and turn right at the parking lot; follow the gravel road to the waterfront jetty and you can hear the Exploratorium Wave Organ, an awe-inspiring set of 25 waveactivated organ pipes, sing its subtle watery song.

Crissy Field + Pet Cemetery
Boasting beautiful panoramic views, this former army airfield stretches from Fort Point National Historic Site and the south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marina’s St. Francis Yacht Club; most of its beach areas are famed off-leash havens for pups. On the trails, however, dogs must be onleash for the safety of runners, walkers and migrating birds that nest nearby. After any number of long hikes in the Presidio, you can rest up, with visits to the Warming Huts, on both ends of Crissy Field. These cafés serve organic treats for dogs and people. Travel just above Crissy Field to McDowell Avenue and Cowles Street, and you’ll find the Presidio pet cemetery, with memorials not only to dogs and cats, but also macaws, goldfish, even the occasional pigeon. Though it is located under the Doyle Drive overpass, the sweet spot is still a top stop.

Marina Green + Fort Mason
Dogs will love the Marina Green, a gorgeous grassy expanse that bustles with health nuts, tourists and leashed dogs. Continue along Marina Boulevard and follow the path above Buchanan Street to upper Fort Mason. Visit the Great Meadow with its statue of Phillip Burton, the congressman whose legislation created the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, or go see the nineteenth-century cannons in place at Black Point Battery, a former Civil War fortification.

Baker Beach
When you’re looking to get some exercise, try the lengthy hike that extends along the Coastal Trail for 1.5 miles from the bridge past three batteries to Baker Beach, a mile-long strand that is relatively sheltered from the winds and has breathtaking views (speaking of views, be aware that local nudists often occupy the north end of the beach, especially when the weather’s warm).

Sutro Baths + Lands End Trail
The ruins of the Sutro Baths, a former pool complex built in 1896, sit at the farthest northwestern waterfront corner of San Francisco. A jungle gym of crumbling concrete structures with stairways leading off cliffs, the bath ruins are also where you can pick up the trail to hike along Lands End. This trek is for adventurers who like their landscape rocky and their breezes brisk. Cypress trees line the well-maintained trail, formerly unused railroad tracks, as do many benches and inviting little coves for picnic destinations. Dogs are welcome on-leash.

For more about the Presidio of San Francisco and its attractions, visit the Presidio Trust at presidio.gov, or the National Park Service at nps.gov/prsf. To download a map of Presidio hiking trails, go to presidio.gov.

News: Guest Posts
Dog Camp Wonders

Whenever you mix dogs, people and the freedom to play in nature, you get something special.

In 2002 I created Maian Meadows Dog Camp in Washington State, an environment for safe, off-leash play for dogs and people who rarely get to experience it. I feel like an alchemist, stirring just the right ingredients to create a weekend full of fresh air, forest and lake, dog-centered activities, comfort food and—most importantly—the shared unconditional love of several happy dogs all together in one place. The end product is often magical.

Over the years, I’ve befriended lots of wonderful people and dogs. All have back stories, some quite extraordinary.

Two years ago, a mother and her early-twenties daughter attended. Observing them, I realized the daughter had some cognitive challenges. I couldn’t put my finger of just what sort. She was bubbly and outgoing, but her social skills were a tad off. She mixed well with the other campers and her little Chihuahua was delightful.

Saturday evening, the mother took me aside. “I don’t know if you noticed, but my daughter has Aspergers,” she said. “This is the first activity we’ve found that has kept her interested and engaged for an entire weekend. Thank you.”

While I get many heartfelt thanks for hosting camp, that one remains the most special.

The magic happened again at last weekend’s session of dog camp.

Anita arrives with her dog Toby, a certified therapy dog. His skills came in handy. After attending camp in 2010, Anita had to skip June 2011 because she was undergoing chemo for cancer. In September 2011 she and Toby spent a few hours in camp, Anita bald and beautiful, but clearly exhausted. Toby stayed close by. This year, Anita—sporting new hair—and Toby spent the entire weekend in camp, hiking both mornings and participating in all the activities. Anita’s cancer is in remission, and at 66, she’s going strong. So is Toby, by her side.

New campers Adrian and Hana bring their two year old Golden Retriever Jasper. Adrian, an Irishman and statistician of about 50, has spent his entire life afraid of dogs. With Hana’s encouragement, they add Jasper to their family. Adrian no longer fears any dogs, and delights in being around all the dogs at camp.

Dogs heal all sorts of hurts

Stick with me for one more back story. It’s a good one.

Two weeks before camp, I receive an email asking if there is still space for one person and one dog. It’s signed “Tracie and Daisy.” I reply that there is. The registration form arrives, with a very unusual first name; Tracie is a nickname. I worry that my assumption that this camper is female—and can share a cabin with another female—is wrong. I Google the full name. All hits refer to the Dean’s List at a nearby college. Intriguing, but I still don’t know if the camper is male or female, or how old.  I decide to proceed as if she is female. If a male shows up, well, there is an extra cabin.

Friday afternoon I welcome campers and their dogs as they trickle in from all over—Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and even Alberta. Just before dinner, a camper arrives with a dog meeting Daisy’s description: black lab/hound mix. Daisy bounds from the car and gleefully romps with the other dogs. Tracie gets out and introduces herself. She is a very petite young woman of twenty. She has chin length brown hair, wire-rim glasses and a huge welcoming smile showing charmingly crooked teeth. She’s wearing a daisy print blouse. Daisy’s collar has daisies on it. Already I like Tracie. She’s going to fit right in at dog camp.

And she does. I’ve never seen someone so young possess such confidence and outgoing friendliness among so many strangers, most of whom are much older. Daisy is just like Tracie, young (two years old), full of energy and enthusiasm. Throughout the weekend, Tracie frequently has to coax Daisy out of the lake. Daisy loves to swim. And Tracie loves Daisy. Their bond is strong and touching to observe. I determine to learn Tracie’s back story.

Later, during a meal, I overhear tidbits as Tracie shares her story with other campers at her table. I hear words familiar to me in my work as an attorney advocating children’s best interests in the legal system: foster care; Child Protective Services; aging out of the system. The next day, as Tracie throws the ball into the lake for Daisy to retrieve, I ask her to share her story with me. She does, without any sense of embarrassment or shame—another sign of her amazing maturity.

Tracie’s birth mother has mental health issues. She often chose, and married, violent men. Tracie suffered abuse at the hands of one step-father who broke her shoulder. Her mother kicked him out (because CPS required it), but Tracie discovered that the next man her mother brought home was a registered sex offender. Tracie, only 13, took action, standing up for herself and her younger siblings by telling a counselor. This time her mother chose the sex offender. Tracie was removed from the home and placed into foster care. This separated her from her siblings, whom she’d raised; they were placed elsewhere. Over the next several years, Tracie bounced from foster care to her mother’s and back to foster care, a sad and all too common experience for older kids in the system.

As Tracie neared age 18, the foster family she was with had a pregnant black lab. Pup number four (of fourteen!) had a big head and became stuck; Tracie helped bring that pup into the world. The foster family gave Tracie the puppy to commemorate becoming an adult—aging out of the system—and starting a new life. Tracie finally had a family of her own: Daisy.

Tracie chose the name Daisy because the symbolism associated with the flower is purity, innocence, loyal love, beauty, patience and simplicity.

While still in high school, Tracie accumulated two years of college credit. The week before dog camp, at age 20, she graduated with a four year college degree. She’s now enrolled in graduate school. She wants to become a social worker. She wants to help kids in the foster care system. She wants to get Daisy certified as a therapy dog so that they can work with kids as a team. And as soon as she’s 21, Tracie wants to become a foster parent herself. If she does, then she and Daisy will help heal children scarred by a system that often doesn’t care very much about them. I’m confident that Tracie, with Daisy by her side, will accomplish all her goals.

I had no idea, over a decade ago, that creating and directing a dog camp would provide a space for people to heal what hurts them, or gather strength to meet their next challenge. But I should have. Anything involving playful, free-roaming dogs just has to promote joy and healing.




Dog's Life: Travel
On the Road Again
Travel tips and tricks
Traveling Dog

When packing for a trip with my dog, I load his bag first. Then, I set it on top of his travel bed right next to the front door, where, without fail, he’s waiting. “You’re going!” I say. He wags his tail madly, but it’s hard to tell which one of us is more excited.

I’ll admit that taking dogs along on trips has its challenges—fur in your travel mug, for one. It also requires research to find accommodations and attractions that welcome them. But the joys of a having a canine co-pilot outweigh these minor inconveniences.

Chief among the aforementioned joys is dogs’ enthusiasm for the smallest things; they have the right mindset for adventure and can teach us a thing or two about enjoying the moment. Plus, dogs require pit stops, and with each one, there’s an opportunity to explore places you might otherwise have passed by. And it’s not just the landscape that opens up under a pup’s scrutiny; people do, too. Dogs are the world’s best icebreakers.

If you are traveling to join friends and family during the holidays, make special note of the special social settings that accompany festive get- togethers—front doors and gates opening and closing, plates of food left unattended, rambunctious children, an overload of sights and sounds that can confuse even the best trained dog. Some spot training (of dog and people) may be useful, and extra caution required in you preparation.

As you plan, keep a few things in mind.

Remember that “dog-friendly” is relative. It may take a little digging to determine if a hotel, inn, B&B or condo is more than “dog-tolerant.” Special pet packages and amenities, a canine mascot, and websites with photos of dogs are good signs. A phone conversation with the front desk will also help you get a bead on the extent of their dog love. Be sure to ask about size and/or breed restrictions as well as extra fees and rules, such as a prohibition on leaving dogs in your room.

Do your research. It pays to know if your destination comes with special canine concerns, such as deer, frozen bodies of water, sensitive wildlife and the like. You want to be prepared for the unexpected, so it’s good idea to do a little advance work on identifying local veterinary services and emergency care—let’s hope they are not needed, but if they are, you’ll be glad to have done your homework.

Pack smart. In addition to your pup’s regular gear, remember to take a canine first-aid kit, grooming supplies, and an extra collar and leash. Travel with extra blankets and coats in the winter and plenty of water all year round.

Make and carry a “dog file.” It should include your dog’s vital info, (vaccinations, medications, allergies and health conditions) as well as a photo in case she goes missing while you’re on the road. Some travelers keep this material in their car’s glove compartment in an envelope marked DOG INFO so it’s easy to find in case of an accident. If you’re a tech type, load the records and photos on a small USB drive and attach it to your keychain.

Make sure your dog has proper identification. If she becomes lost in an unfamiliar place, a tag and a microchip could be key to getting her back. Since time is of the essence, be sure to provide your own contact number and that of a reliable friend or relative as a backup.

Restrain your dog. If you’re traveling by car, find a comfortable way to transport her safely. A harness seat belt or secured crate keeps a dog from moving around the vehicle and becoming a dangerous distraction, as well as potentially reduces injuries to both of you in case of an accident. If your dog is not used to wearing a seatbelt or traveling in a crate, take a few pre-trip practice runs before embarking on any long hauls.

Be a good guest. Make your friends and family thrilled that your dog joined the festivities by being considerate of all guests and insuring that your dog is on his/her best behavior. Make your dog feel at home and safe by bringing along some extra gear—your dog’s favorite bowl and kibble, a familiar bed, even a doggie gate. Reward hoteliers, restaurateurs and shop owners who roll out the canine red carpet by following the rules; traveling with your own dog sheet, towel and lint rollers; and spreading the word about good dog service.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Seattle’s Innovative Marymoor Park Pet Garden
One of the nation’s finest dog parks

Marymoor Park east of Seattle, Wash., is a Disneyland for dogs, a place where people and their pooches can romp and run over 40 acres of off-leash play space. Now, Marymoor is also a place where people can celebrate and commemorate their beloved living, lost or deceased pets. “The Stephen King/Pet Sematary references were unavoidable, but this is not what this place is about,” says Jesse Israel, with King County Parks.

The newly dedicated Marymoor Park Pet Garden is a one-acre space next to the off-leash area, where people can reflect on the good times they had with their dogs at the park. It’s the first publicly funded memorial pet garden in the Pacific Northwest, and likely, the entire country.

The garden was designed to meet two needs: those of dog owners who wanted to honor their canine friends, and those of a park system in need of entrepreneurial ideas to stay afloat financially. Pet owners can donate money to the garden in exchange for trees, inscribed paving bricks, benches and trees. State and federal urban forestry grants helped fund the garden, along with donations from local businesses. Volunteers maintain the manicured lawns and islands of perennial plants as well as a stone fountain and kiosk where people can post poems and stories about their pets.

“I was blown away that government could be so innovative,” says Judy Trockel, head of Serve Our Dog Areas (SODA), the official stewardship group for Marymoor. “It’s a recognition of and respect for the role pet owners play from an economic and political standpoint.” For more information, visit www.metrokc.gov/parks/petgarden/


News: Guest Posts
Summer Fun: Dog-Friendly Gondolas
Crystal Mountain, Washington

There is nothing quite like the crisp, exposed atmosphere of alpine mountains. Unfortunately, reaching these elevations can be a pretty big job. So last fall, I happily headed to Crystal Mountain Ski Area, in the Cascade Mountains about an hour and a half southeast of Seattle where I live, to ride the gondola to the top of the mountain.

In the summer, the Mount Rainier Gondola welcomes dogs. I figured Renzo, my Husky-Border Collie mix, and I would ride in style, taking in the fantastic views during the 2,500-foot climb to the summit and there enjoy, without so much as a bead of sweat on my brow, the lens-popping view of the snow-covered dome of Mount Rainier. Weather-permitting. Then we’d hike down leisurely with gravity on our side, weaving through fir, hemlock and cedar forests, skirting deep blue alpine lakes and crossing lush meadows loaded with sunflowers, columbine, lupine, Indian paintbrush and more.

Ah, the best intentions. The gondola operators were ready and eager. As was I. Renzo had other ideas. The strange, swinging gondola cars careening noisily into the loading station alarmed him. When I could get him to approach, coaxed by treats, the fact that the gondola never fully stopped seemed to be a deal-breaker. My dog is an anxious one so I wasn’t willing to carry him aboard for a 20-minute ride from hell.

We hung around and watched two dogs hop aboard without hesitation before turning boots and paws upland. I was bent on seeing that summit view, which is often socked in when I ski there, even if we had to do it the hard way. It was a longer and more exhausting day than I had planned but the real point was just getting out together in this beautiful place. I was glad it was just the two of us, with no one disappointed by the change of plans.

Trail past small lake, the "view" of Rainier on Sept. 17, 2011

Still I do think gondolas offer a wonderful chance for access to backcountry views for families with younger children, grandparents and a senior dog or too—always with the caveat that things may not go as planned.

The Mount Rainier Gondola runs every day from June 17–September 19, and then weekends-only through October 2. If you live near or plan to travel to a ski area with a gondola, check to see if it’s dog-friendly. I hear the views are often fabulous.