Traveling With A Raw Fed Dog

Healthy food

Good food for a good dog!

My raw diet journey began sometime in the mid 90’s. I had a St. Bernard that was a few year’s old and suffering from chronic ear infections and regular bouts of vomiting foamy yellow grossness. Back then, in the stone age of dog food, there were only a few ‘premium’ brands and I’d tried them ALL. I can’t tell you who or what turned me on to raw, but it made a whole lot of sense to me. It also solved my dog’s health problems, including his bad breath and gas. Mac died in 2003 just one month shy of his tenth birthday, but the Great Diet Experiment left me a believer.

Fast forward to July 2006. That’s when I adopted Henri. We didn’t make the switch to raw immediately, but it wasn’t long before I decided that Henri would need to live forever, or at least as long as I could manage to keep him healthy, and the best way to do that was to make sure what went into his body was real food. A few portion adjustments- I didn’t have to buy meat in bulk from the butcher- and accomodations for Henri’s palate- he loves greens but hates fruit- and I was back in the groove.

Since I hadn’t killed my first dog, I had a lot more confidence with Henri! No more weighing and measuring, no strict adherance to the schedule, and rules? What rules?!

It wasn’t until we started traveling a lot that managing his diet got a little tricky. It was one thing to visit my Mom and Dad and commander a fridge drawer for Henri’s chicken wings, but it was quite another to be booking hotel stays. Fortunately, the homemade diet lends itself to flexibility and Henri had developed a stomach of steel.

You Need 3 Things

  • Cooler
  • Refrigerator
  • Grocery Store

Our friends at Igloo gave us a Sportsman cooler, most hotel rooms have a fridge, and since Henri eats real food, I can dart into any grocery store, which all towns have. Regardless of where we are, I never have to worry about finding his brand of kibble. We’ve ordered fruit and yogurt off hotel breakfast menus, plain chicken breast and/or a burger patty with a side of veggies from restaurant menus, and once I even ordered and shared a Surf & Turf. I took the surf; Henri got the turf.

The best news in all of this, at least for Henri, is the number of restaurants that now offer canine platters or specialty menus. In 2015, I highlighted 6 of those places, as it was somewhat of a novelty. Now, it’s practically a trend! Of course, a lot of folks wouldn’t dream of letting their dog eat human food, especially not when traveling, but for Henri it’s normal. It doesn’t upset his stomach and it gives us a great opportunity to highlight some truly dog-friendly places.

What Henri Eats

Home-cooked dog food

Henri Hash: Pork, kale, sweet potato, apple, grains, ACV, turmeric

The short answer is ‘everything.’

Henri gets fed twice a day and half of those meals are what those of us in the raw world call raw meaty bones (RMBs). For Henri, that consists of chicken wings and turkey necks. Yes, raw. Yes, bone and all. But we aren’t strictly raw, and because Henri is so skinny, I do feed him grains. So in addition to his bones, he gets canned salmon, lean red meat– usually raw unless we’re splitting a steak; then it’s medium rare. He gets veggies with both of those meals. Those are steamed and seasonal if I have time, canned if we’re on the road or I’m feeling lazy. Several times a week he gets what we call ‘Henri Hash.’ This is a big ol’ pot of stew that I make using cooked ground lamb, buffalo, deer, whatever, plus seasonal veggies, and grains. Throw in some yogurt, cottage cheese, and raw eggs several times a week and you have a nutritionally balanced diet.

*A note to other raw feeders: Please do not message me because there is no liver in his diet. I know he’s supposed to have it but it’s slimy and smelly and the thought of eating something that filters toxins from another organism’s body is just gross. I buy freeze-dried liver treats and that’s as good as it’s gonna get!

How To Pack a Kitchen

The short answer is ‘NOT everything.’

The easiest stuff to pack is Henri Hash and RMBs. The hash is stored in portion-sized containers and the RMBs go into Ziplocks. If you freeze the RMBs, they work like icepacks and save room in your cooler. IF I take his regular food, that’s usually all I pack. I can order yogurt, fruit/veggies, poached eggs and most anything else from hotel menus.

The truth is…if it’s only a few days, I just don’t sweat it. My dog is healthy, and sometimes I let him eat regular ol’ dog food.

Ok. It’s a premium brand. And grain free. And usually some variety of duck because that’s not a protein he gets regularly. And I wet it. And add stuff. And we get right back on track as soon as we get home. Everybody gets to slack on their diet while on vacation, right?!

Feeding raw may sound crazy to some (most), but it isn’t rocket science. It isn’t even all that time consuming once you get the hang of it, and frankly, I think it makes traveling a lot easier. “Here, Henri. Eat this!” Would I do it if I had a husband and three kids? Maybe not. There are a lot of commercial raw diets out there that didn’t exist in the 90s and some of them are really good. They’re also really expensive, and by expensive, I mean more than the $100/wk I average now- for BOTH of us.

Am I advocating switching to raw? No. It isn’t for everybody. In fact, it’s likely not for most. However, if traveling or boarding or worry about someone else feeding your dog this complicated mess and screwing it up is what’s stopping you, don’t let it. Adjustments are easy, even if you have to go back to kibble on occasion. Besides, Henri thinks kibble is the canine equivilent of cake!

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Endurance. Tolerance. Recovery. 3 Important Things to Consider When Traveling with a Senior Dog

Senior aged Sheltie, Terrier, Daschund and Boston Terrier

Showing their age L to R: Charlie, 12; Henri, 11; Dirk, 6; Sophie, 6

If Henri were a person, he’d have qualified for AARP a few years ago. In fact, he’s now approximately the same age as my Dad. With rapid aging comes rapid change, and though Henri has the blood work of a healthy, younger dog, the white on his face tells a different story. So, too, do his actions and reactions and the biggest changes are in his endurance, tolerance, and recovery.

Endurance

Endurance is probably the thing we, as humans, are most aware of in our aging dogs. A pooch who used to fetch for hours is content with a few throws; the lab who could swim all day is tired after 20 minutes; and the dog who used to be your morning running buddy would settle for a nice evening stroll.

This means planning adventure and travel days with downtime.

After an activity, downtime used to be lounging on a shaded patio with a cool bowl of water while listening to music or chatting with strangers. These days, it’s going back to our room for an afternoon nap. It seems to me that Henri appreciates the quiet and he’ll often bolt into our room and run straight to his bed. Sometimes I take a nap too but, if I can leave him unattended in the room, it’s a great time to check out things that aren’t necessarily dog-friendly.

Tolerance

If your pup is as mellow as Henri, you may not think of tolerance as a factor because most things just don’t seem to bother him. However, the more I ask Henri to tolerate- noise, city traffic, people, interactions– the less amount of time I can expect him to do it. In addition, if something goes wrong, he doesn’t get over it as quickly or easily as he did when he was younger. It might require that we remove ourselves from the situation or hurry up with that downtime.

Tolerance and endurance are indirectly proportional.

An unfortunate example of this occurred during our trip to Port Aransas while attending a turtle release. In all the excitement, a little girl startled Henri by dropping her plastic sand shovel on him. Then I left him with my buddy, who Henri has known since the day I got him, and waded into the ocean to snap pictures. I really thought he’d be ok for a few minutes but when I returned, he was trembling.

Henri was done. He wanted off that beach and away from the crowd. We retreated to the car and I gave him some Rescue Remedy. Old dogs want their Mamas, familiar surroundings, and a low level of BS.

Recovery

Using the same example from above, it took Henri at least ten minutes hiding in the floorboard of the car and us getting off the beach before he began to relax again. A short walk elsewhere and some chill time in a quiet spot helped, but it doesn’t always.

Henri can’t just ‘get over it’ like he did when he was younger.

Henri also requires a lot more physical rest after our adventures. If we spend all day on the water, he will sleep on/off most of the next day and may not even pester me for a walk. When we return home from a road trip, it might be two days before he’s fully back to normal.

Changes and Choices

There are things you can do to increase endurance and tolerance, and speed up recovery. Here are my personal tips for making your senior dog comfy on the road:

  • Take your dog’s stuff. Things that smell like home can help your dog relax in unfamiliar surroundings.
  • Limit car time and make periodic stops. Seniors may get stiff and need a stretch.
  • Older dogs are more sensitive to heat (and cold). Make sure rear air vents are on in the car and/or invest in window shades. Gel cooling mats for outdoor lounging, and cooling bandanas, whether for hiking or city walking, are invaluable.
  • Carry your own bowl and offer water frequently to prevent dehydration.
  • Schedule breaks from stimulation/activity.
  • For dogs with hearing loss, take the time to teach a few hand signals, and for those with vision loss, try an LED collar* when the sun starts to set.
  • Book hotels that allow your pet to be left alone in the room, have elevators instead of stairs, and/or first floor accommodations.

*A note about the LED collar

I bought the collar last year for a camping/floating trip because I thought it might come in handy at night. I’ve used it everywhere from the river to the beach, and it’s great for keeping tabs on your dog in the dark. However, it also directly benefits Henri.

Soon after purchase, I began using the collar on our evening walks so any neighborhood traffic would see Henri. This summer I noticed he seemed to walk and move with more confidence when he was wearing it vs. when he wasn’t. His eyes are just beginning to show the cloudiness of age and I am of the opinion that the collar casts enough light on the ground in front of him to counter that.

Do you have tips and tricks for living and traveling with a senior dog?

We’d love to hear them! Leave us a comment. Don’t forget to LIKE us on Facebook and SHARE us with your friends. You can also FOLLOW us on Twitter and Instagram @mytraveltails for up to the minute adventure.

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Adopt AND Shop in Dog Friendly Springfield, MO

Mother's Brewing Company lawn

Chillin’ on the lawn at Mother’s.

When a beautiful 80-degree day creeps up on you the first Friday of August, and it just so happens to be Firkin Friday at a brewery that you’ve wanted to visit, AND it’s International Beer Day, you text your very over-worked bestie at 10:00 a.m. to see if she can leave early for an impromptu overnight. If she says yes, you reschedule your dog’s teeth cleaning and hit the road!

It helps if you can mention a Kiwi Vanilla New England IPA Firkin being tapped at 6:00 p.m.

If I had to choose a favorite thing about living in Northwest Arkansas, it would the proximity to other cool places. A twelve-hour drive will get you to a beach, in less than ten you can make it to Chicago. Four hours will put you in Oklahoma City, and in two and half, you can be at a dog-friendly brewery in Springfield, MO. We packed the car and drove straight to Mother’s.

Friday Night

Mother’s Brewing Company

Dog-friendly with great beer and fun events, Mother’s Brewing Company has been on our radar for quite some time. Unfortunately, Jennifer has been working long hours and I was under the strictest of orders to NOT go without her. I guess a gorgeous day, a special brew, and a little prodding was all she needed.

We rolled into an almost completely full parking lot around 7:00 p.m. but with some fancy manuvering were able to squeeze into a space. After dabbing on lipstick and letting the dogs potty, we headed to the lawn and toward the outdoor beer kiosk. OUT. All out of Firkin. 10 gallons gone in a record 13 minutes.

This was no major disappointment to me- I HATE IPAs- but since I’d dangled it like a carrot in hopes of getting Jen out of the office, she had looked forward to trying it. She opted for its base instead, the Sunshine Chugsuckle. It was light enough that this IPA-hater got one too.

A lively crowd on the lawn at Mother's Brewery

Families, friends, dogs, and live music on the lawn at Mother’s.

After grabbing our beers, we proceeded to try to find a chair on the lawn. You can probably guess that if the Firkin was gone in 13 minutes, so were the chairs. Fortunately, Jen had a blanket in the car. While she was gone, I scored two plastic adirondacks in the sun. So we spread the blanket out for the pups.

Can you ask for anything better than cold beer, music, and time with friends and dogs on a temperate August night in the South?

Both the Mother’s lawn and the taproom are family and dog-friendly, but if it’s a nice day, you’ll want to be on the lawn. With a couple of acres of grassy space featuring several Baggo boards (Cornhole for you Yankees), picnic tables, and the aforementioned adirondacks, there’s enough room to gather with friends, or spread out a blanket and cozy up with a date away from the crowd.

If there is an event scheduled, there will likely be a food truck on-site. But if you’re like me and get busy drinking beer, listening to music, and watching people go by, they might close before you grab a snack. Mother’s closes at 8 p.m. TU-TH, 9 p.m. on F-SA, and 5 p.m. on Sundays. They are closed on Monday.

Tips for visiting Mother’s with your dog:

  • Leashes & poop bags. Duh.
  • If there’s an event, throw some chairs or a lawn blanket in your trunk. Just in case.
  • I didn’t see any dog water bowls, but I might have missed them. Take your own.
  • DRINK THE RYE BARREL MILF (you, not your dog)!

417 Taphouse

Although there was a food truck at Mother’s we didn’t manage to hit it up before they closed. In fact, we were finishing our beer flight while they were putting up chairs around us, but I wasn’t running out on that Rye Barrel MILF sample. Everything about it made me happy!

Mother’s closes at 9 on Fridays, early in my book, and having not eaten, we needed food. We headed in the direction of downtown (less than a mile away) to see if we could find something. While circling, I noticed a patio sandwiched between a building and a parking lot. It looked like it might be dog-friendly, so I did a hasty park and ran in to ask. Score!

417 Taphouse is open until 1:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and the kitchen is open until midnight serving the full menu. They also feature the area’s only self-serve draft beer. I’m not sure how they keep track of that or how it works, but it sounds cool. I ordered a couple of bottles and placed my food order at the bar. On Friday and Saturday nights, they have food runners from 6 to midnight, but the rest of the time you’ll order and retrieve your own food from the barkeep.

The food menu features sandwiches, salads, pastas, burgers and Twisted Taters, which are hand-cut curly fries with various topping options. I was excited to discover they served deep-fried bacon, which I’d never tried. I was disappointed to discover I don’t really love deep-fried bacon. The deep frying interferes with the bacon flavor. I guess I like my bacon like I like my martinis- straight up!

Hotel Reservations

Since this was a last-minute jump in the car and go trip, I didn’t make reservations. I wasn’t too worried about it. I’d scoped out the area and knew there were three LaQuinta’s within a few miles of Mother’s.

ALL LaQuinta’s everywhere are dog-friendly and pets stay free.

The trick is to check Trip Advisor. Some of the LaQ’s have been remodeled and some have not. Some are in sketchy areas and some are not. If the rating isn’t three or more stars, don’t stay there. Especially if you’re a solo female traveler.

As Jen and I sat at Mother’s looking at hotels, we quickly discovered they were all booked. HUH? It didn’t occur to me that something was going on in Springfield- like an Assembly of God convention- so I was convinced we’d just find something after dinner.

Fortunately, we found a strip of hotels and just kept pulling up and running inside to the desk of the ones I knew to be dog-friendly. After several stops, we landed at Candlewood Suites. That’s when we learned of the convention.

Candlewood Suites

Pets Are Welcome at Candlewood Suites

Pet Walking Area at Candlewood Suites.

Pet Policy: Pets weighing less than 80 lbs. are welcome, and obviously they allow more than one pet per room. A non-refundable pet fee is charged based upon the length of stay. 6 nights up to $75, 7 or more nights up to $150. We only needed the one night, so they didn’t charge us at all. According to their online policies, proper medical certification specifying that all vaccinations are up to date must be available upon request, and pets may be left unattended in your room, but must be in a crate or pet carrier while you are gone.

Pet Amenities: Pet guests have a designated dog relief area with waste disposal bags. Our location also had doggie treats available at the front desk.

Saturday Morning

I always love traveling with Jennifer and Charlie because they get up a lot earlier than I do. That means that by the time I roll over and lift my head, Henri has usually already been out to potty. All I have to do is make some coffee, feed Henri, and dig up doggie fun.

If you search “farmer’s market springfield missouri,” you’ll discover several- Farmer’s Market of the Ozarks, Greater Springfield Market, C-Street Market, and a place called Urban Roots Farm. I thought the later looked interesting and since there was a number, I called.

The phone was answered by a young girl who asked me if I could “hold on a minute.” The farm owner, Melissa, returned to the line. She informed me that they were indeed open but that they weren’t exactly a traditional farmer’s market. She also told me a bit about the others. We decided to check out Urban Roots, ’cause I like the concept.

Urban Roots Farm

Urban Roots Farm

A sign welcomes guests to the farm and the neighborhood.

Adam and Melissa Millsap, owners of this 1.7 acre farm in downtown Springfield, believe in a locally grown, susatainable food system. To that end, they have created Urban Roots Farm in an up-and-coming but not quite yet thriving residential neighborhood. Produce can be purchased through their Community Supported Agriculture program, the farm stand located on the farm, or a number of local stores. We first spotted them at their small produce stand next to the outdoor beer taps at Mother’s on Friday night.

Melissa told me she might be out when we stopped, but we were welcome to roam the property and help ourselves to any produce, which would be available in the refridgerated walk-in. Purchases are on the honor system via the cash box on the wall, and a sign pointed to free fresh-cut flowers in a bag on the floor.

The farm isn’t big and it was misting rain, so we didn’t stay long, but if you’re in town and looking to check out something unique that supports local commerce, stop by. In the walk-in you’ll find all manner of seasonal produce, local raw honey that I’m guessing comes from the multiple bee boxes located along the back fence, and fresh eggs. I wish I’d had a chance to meet the owners; I bet they’re cool people.

*If visiting with your pooch be wary of the fencing surrounding the chickens. It’s electric.

C-Street Market

Urban Roots wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I thought “Saturday morning farmer’s market.” At home, it’s not just a market, it’s a social event. Melissa was kind enough to give us the local market rundown- like, you can’t go to Farmer’s Market of the Ozarks with your dog unless he’s passed the FMO Canine Good Citizen and has a green bandana. She pointed us, instead, in the direction of a place that was not only dog-friendly to travelers, but in close proximity to our brunch location.

C-Street City Market is located downtown in the Commercial Street Historic District. It’s a fairly small market compared to what we’re used to in Fayetteville and on this particular Saturday, the stormy weather had already sent several vendors packing. What remained was a small selection of produce, baked goods, crafts, and one doggie-centric booth called Pet Wants. Owner Dennis Ensor chatted with us about his business and products, and offered both pooches free samples. We left with some Sweet Pawtatoes and a bottle of ZinfanTail Dog Wine. ‘Cause who wants to drink alone?!

Hotel Vandivort

Dogs welcome at Hotel Vandivort

Charlie with his bloody Mary. Henri in his #hotelvandivortbathroomselfie. Tavii waits for a home.

After a bit of shopping and drying of dog feet, we headed in the direction of our next adventure: Yappy Hour Brunch at Springfield’s “first urban boutique hotel.” Built in 1906 as a Masonic Temple, the four-story Hotel Vandivort has been completely restored in a way that accentuates historic design elements while offering modern amenities.

The large lobby was crowded with happily barking guests making themselves comfortable on the floor while their people lounged in chairs, gathered on sofas, and dined at tables. We found the only loveseat still available and soon thereafter we were presented with a silver tray of pup-treats in much the same way you’d present a human with hor d’ourves. The atmosphere was loud and lively, and probably not ideal for shy or timid dogs.

It took a while for our waitress to notice or get to us, but with $15 bottomless mimosas and a build-your-own bloody mary bar it was hard to complain. I was beginning to think we should have planned to stay another night in Springfield, but Jen ordered hot tea.

If you follow Travel Tails on Facebook– you do, don’t you?!- then you may already know this is where I met Tavii, a male chocolate lab who was available for adoption through Rescue One. I watched him for almost two hours and not one thing phased him- not the barking dogs, not the intrusive toddler who I finally had to tell to leave Henri alone, not all the different people petting him. He seemed to enjoy every minute of it, greeting each new person with as much enthusiasm as the last, and when no one was petting him, he layed on the floor squeaking his hedgehog. “Someone I know has to adopt this dog,” I thought to myself.

I knew Friday morning that we needed to go to Springfield. I thought it was for beer. Turns out it was for Tavii.

I walked over to meet him and find out a bit more. When rescued, he was heartworm positive, covered in fleas, ticks and fly bites, and most of his hair was gone. He’d gained 20 lbs. since then and was obviously holding no grudges. I immediately posted his photo to both my travel and training pages hoping someone would fall in love. Then I began racking my brain.

Rescue One foster dog meets his forever home

Tavii with his new family.

Brunch was over at 2:00 and by 2:17, I had text his photo to the person I thought should be his new mom- a former client whose chocolate lab was also a rescue, but was now almost 16. “I found you a dog,” I said. I crossed my fingers. She and her husband went to meet him two weeks later, and brought him straight home to his sister and his new lake house.

Everybody, meet Tavii Whittle!

For those of you who don’t know, Henri is also originally from Springfield. His rescue is now defunct, but clearly good dogs come from there!

More To Do in Springfield

There’s lots more to do in Springfield than what we accomplished in 24 hours. For family fun that includes the dog, check out:

For eats, visit:

We’ll definitely be heading back to Springfield, probably for another Mother’s event. We’ll check out the things we missed, dig up some more eats, and report back with an update. You can stay in the know by liking us on Facebook, or following us on Twitter or Instagram. Your suggestions and comments are always welcome!

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Product Review: HomeAway Travel Organizer Kit from Solvit Pet Products

HomeAway Travel Organizer for dogs on the go

The perfect farmer’s market accessory.

When my nephew was born, my brother struggled to find a diaper bag that wasn’t feminine or decorated with baby-themed goop. He finally settled for a backpack. When I started traveling with Henri, my standard purse was too small, and I, too, had difficulty finding something that was functional but didn’t scream ‘Mommy!’ I lucked into having a girlfriend with a Coach addiction and a daughter who no longer required the use of a diaper bag. The function and fashion combo was great, but I needed something more.

I started by brainstorming my social connections trying to figure out who I knew that would be interested in partnering to create Travel Tails DoggieBags. I wanted something I could design specifically for pet parents on the go- lightweight, water-resistant, sturdy compartments, zippered pockets, places for wet things, and a built-in poop bag dispenser. Part purse, part business (it needed to fit my ipad and/or client files), part dog bag. Multi-tasking was key.

The HomeAway Travel Organizer Kit from Solvit Pet Products does ALL of that!

With the company slogan ‘No pet left behind’, Solvit products are designed for mobility. I really like the Deluxe Car Safety Harness first featured in our trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas, but I wasn’t sure the bag would function to meet all of my needs. However, it sounded perfect for those of you who only travel with your pet on occasion or just don’t carry as much crap as we do. So I agreed to a review.

My complimentary bag arrived on a Thursday, just in time for our busy weekend. The ‘kit’ includes a main organizer bag, a crystal polycarbonate BPA-free water bottle, two 8-cup collapsible travel bowls, and a dry bag for food storage. You can also order extra bowls if you need them. But first things first…I had to clean out my ‘purse’ and fit all our stuff into the new travel organizer.

How I Packed

The interior of the main organizer bag includes two sewn-in fabric panels with velcro on one side to make three compartments. Undoing the velcro allows you to reconfigure it to whatever suits your needs, but I liked the three. My wallet and make-up bag went into the middle, the filled water bottle on one side, and a few of Henri’s things- refreshing spray, chamios, and treats- on the other side.

Next, I made use of the two zippered pockets on the exterior of the bag. I put a roll of poop bags into the front left pocket and fed it through the brass grommet. In the right pocket, I stuffed two koozies (I never go anywhere without a koozie in my purse), a flattened roll of duct tape, a mini flashlight, and a sharpie. No wonder my purse is so heavy!

In addition to the zippered pockets, the bag also features two mesh side pockets designed to store the travel bowls, and a large mesh pocket on the back. We didn’t need the food bowl, so I put the water bowl in one side pocket, and my keys, reading glasses, phone, and lipstick in the other. The large mesh pocket held a variety of things over the weekend and provided the versatility we needed when activities changed.

On The Go

Water-resistant travel bag from Solvit Pet Products

Baseball in the rain? No problem.

Our first outing with our new bag was to the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning. For this trip, the large mesh pocket served as the holding place for a reusable shopping bag. When I bought flowers, I discovered the mesh side pockets were perfect holders for my bouquet. I moved the water bowl to the back pocket with the shopping bag, then stuffed my flowers in its place.

The ventilated pockets are designed for damp things.

For our next adventure, we were off to the lake. The travel organizer is made of water-resistant nylon, so it’s perfect for dock life. The shopping bag got replaced with Henri’s gel cooling pad, cooling bandana, and LED glow collar. The cooling pad made things a little heavier, but it all fit.

On Sunday, Bark in the Ballpark presented a different need. With it misting rain, we needed a full-size towel for wet seats and wet dogs. Again, the large back pocket was perfect for this. There was even enough room for our new frisbee.

My only complaint? Color options! I’d love to have this bag in red with tan trim or ecru with navy.

Lightweight with a unisex, messenger bag style, the HomeAway Travel Organizer Kit is the perfect accessory for pet parents- Moms OR Dads. With dimensions measuring 16 x 12 x 7 and weighing only 2.5 lbs., it can take you from the office on Take Your Dog to Work Day to the boat or the beach when your workday is done. It also comes with a limited lifetime warranty that guarantees it free from defects in materials or workmanship for the life of the product.

For more information on Solvit Pet Products and how they can help make time spent with your dog easier, visit their website. You can also stop me on the street if you see me and ask to check out my bag. We’re keeping it!

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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Makes Art Accessible (To Dogs)

View of Crystal Bridges from a bridge

Art, Architecture, and Nature

By design, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art emphasizes the blending of art and nature. Carefully constructed to preserve the natural beauty of the Ozark forest, the museum’s goal has always been to make art accessible to everyone. In the case of the outdoor installations, it sometimes includes your dog!

I’d hoped this would be a post about the amazing Chihuly exhibit, with both indoor and outdoor installations, currently on display at the museum. When I first inquired about the event I was told Chihuly: In the Forest, the outdoor portion, would be dog-friendly. Then I was told it wasn’t. Then I was told it was just the Saturday night events that weren’t dog-friendly. Then on my recommendation one friend took her pup and got in, and another friend with her dog was turned away.

It quickly became clear to me that it depended on who you asked. So I went directly to Beth Bobbit, Public Relations Manager, for the official word. Because the outdoor space featuring Chihuly is currently classified as a ‘gallery’, there are NO DOGS ALLOWED. This excludes service dogs, of course; they are allowed by law.

To those of you following on Facebook, I apologize for any confusion. On with my raving review…

The good news is the Crystal Bridges trail system is made up of EIGHT different dog-friendly trails, all highlighted on their website with information about length, surface, and difficulty.

At this time, only the North Forest Trail is closed (until Novemember 13, 2017) to pooches. You can, however, catch a little glimpse of Chihuly on the Art Trail where floating orbs are installed in the pond.

Chihuly floating orbs

Chihuly on the Art Trail at Crystal Bridges

Crystal Bridges

Crystal Bridges is situated on 120 acres and boasts over 3.5 miles of trails that include natural and landscaped environments, clear running creeks that are easily accessed for a quick dip of the paw, outdoor sculptures, and artist James Turrell’s Skyspace structure, The Way of Color.

From time to time, there are also featured exhibits and acitivies in the outdoor space- installations such as The Four Seasons by American artist and filmmaker, Phillip Haas, and family events like Artosphere– that allow well-behaved art-lovin’ canines.

It’s a wonderful way to exercise your pup, as well as, all of your senses.

To make the most of your trail experience, download the free app for Apple or Android devices. The app offers interactive trail maps, art and plant guides, and audio-tour information about many of the features of Crystal Bridges’ grounds.

Henri takes a dip in the creek

Time to cool off!

If an outdoor installation is in progress or an event is planned, check the museum website for dog-friendly info or visit the Travel Tails facebook page to see if we’ve checked it out yet. When something this cool is in your hometown, you become a supporting member and you go a lot.

TIP FOR YOUR VISIT: If you’re a first-timer with your dog, start late in the day with your walk or hike. That will allow you to visit the Skyspace as the sun sets, and as you wrap up your evening, stop at the Buckey Ball that marks the entrance/exit drive to enjoy the symphony of color and pattern that is only visable after dark. It’s one of my favorite things!

Crystal Bridges is open Saturday- Sunday 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., Monday 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. and Wednesday-Friday 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. They are closed on Tuesdays but you are free to walk the trails at any time.

Where to Stay

If you’ll be staying the night in Bentonville, then 21c Museum Hotel, located within walking distance of Crystal Bridges, is where you’ll want to book your reservation. They are dog-friendly, and though their policy recently changed and dogs are no longer allowed in the bar or outdoor dining area, if you can talk someone into grabbing you a drink, you can roam the museum’s gallery space with a cocktail in one hand and a leash in the other.

A Few Other Spots

Both Crystal Bridges and 21c are located in the heart of downtown Bentonville which makes walking to some of our favorite dog-friendly establishments easy.

Be sure to visit our friends, Bobby and Paula, at Three Dog Bakery for some great treats and healthy chews. Henri’s current favorite nosh is the No Hide Chew made of bromeline instead of rawhide. Since bromeline is a natural anti-inflammatory and Henri is getting a bit older, Mommy gives this chew four paws up.

YeYo’s Mexican Grill is a food truck located in an alley across from Three Dog Bakery. They have an amazing Conchinita Pibil that you can wash down with a cold Mexican bottle Coke. You can check out all the other food trucks in the small court area across from 21c.

If it feels like beer:30 head on down the street to the patio at Pedaler’s Pub. They have fantastic pizza- the Italian is still my favorite- and local craft beer from a variety of Arkansas breweries. For wine lovers, visit Ramo D’Olivio (and grab a bottle of Lemon Balsamic -my new summer cooking ingredient obsession) or Two25 Gallery and Wine Bar. All three of these dog-friendly patios have water bowls available for thirsty pooches.

Exterior building of Crystal Bridges

Architectural detail at Crystal Bridges

For world-class art, architecture, great patio dining, and outdoor fun with your dog, there’s no place like Bentonville, Arkansas, and there’s so much more to see and do. If you’re planning a trip to Northwest Arkansas, drop us a line and let us point your paws in all the right directions!

For more photos and adventure, FOLLOW us on Instagram or LIKE us on Facebook.

Special thanks to MJW Photography for helping us tell better stories!

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Port Aransas on Mustang Island: Gone To The Dogs

Beach camping

Home Sweet Home

“It’s not Florida.”

I must’ve heard this 100 times when I started telling people about our next trip.
No, it’s not Florida. It’s not the sugar-white sand of 30A. Know what else it’s not? Over-populated!

If you’re my age you might remember Destin vacations as a kid with precious little to do but build sand castles, play in the surf, and watch your Dad chase sand crabs. If you miss or just crave that sorta thing, then pack the car and head to Port Aransas, Texas before it’s too late.

The condos are coming.

Mustang Island State Park

Relaxing on the beach

Boots off, toes in the sand.

There aren’t a lot of beaches where you can pitch your tent in the sand, build a fire, fall asleep in your chair, and awake to a gulf sunrise with waves crashing on the shore a mere 50 feet from where you slept. Mustang Island State Park is one of those places. That’s probably why you hear it referenced in songs.

Perfectly timed, we were checked in at the ranger’s station and had our tent sent up just in time for sunset and some Razorback baseball on the radio. Solo cup in hand, dog at my feet, I sat in my chair and stared at the ocean as the sun lowered itself over the dunes behind us.

This was my beginning and in the morning I’d start my next trip around the sun at the beach with my dog and one of my best friends.

I have a friend who only celebrates prime numbered birthdays and lots of people only acknowledge the multiples of five. I celebrate them ALL and tend to gravitate toward water when I get the chance. Until I turned 40 it was a month-long festival. Now, I’ve scaled back to a more respectable fortnight, but that’s mostly because I think it makes me sound educated and refined. I’ve also discovered that if I do both pre- and post- fortnight celebrations, I still get roughly a month.

After a few innings of baseball, the pinks of a gulf sunset had turned to dark blue. This would have been the perfect night for dinner on the beach but we didn’t plan for that. Reluctantly, we got back into the car to go in search of people food and a liquor store.

Please note: You are not supposed to have alcohol within the state park or glass on the beach. Those are the official rules. Also, the park gates are locked after 10 p.m. but you’ll be given the code so you can get back to your campsite if you leave.

Port Aransas

Mustang Island is an 18-mile long barrier island on the Texas coast. At the southern end of the island are Padre Island and the JFK Causeway that connects to Corpus Christi. At the northern end is a the small, funky town of Port Aransas. The park ranger had given us a map of the beach and personal drawings that led us where we needed to go in ‘Port A’.

We stopped at the liquor store first because we didn’t know what time they closed. I wasn’t expecting great things from a small island store but WOW! WB had all our favorite bourbons, several of our favorite wines (yes, Dad, they had Freakshow), and friendly, if slightly overly helpful, staff.

At what point do you say, “Dude. We drink a lot. We got this.”

Through all the friendly chatter, we did learn a new term for Bud, Bud Light, Miller Lite, etc. An island local and liquor store regular only drinks craft beer and refers to all others as “Peasant beer.” I’ll be using that.

After making some rearrangements in my hot pink Igloo Sportsman with the rhinestone Razorback decal, we were headed to the downtown area to a sports bar called Stingray’s Taphouse & Grill. A contact at Port Aaransas Chamber of Commerce sent me a list of dog-friendly joints and this little sports bar was one of them. I’d called to confirm if a) they were indeed dog-friendly and if b) they would put at least one of the TVs on Razorback baseball for me. I didn’t know at the time that the game wasn’t televised; they tried very hard to find it.

With multiple water bowls placed across the patio, a Golden Retriever sacked out on the floor and a little mix under another table eagarly wagging his tail, you can count on this place for dog-friendly service. It wasn’t too crowded and we could hear the solo guitar player from the patio of The Gaff, another dog-friendly bar, next door. I ordered oysters- yes, I know there’s no ‘r’ in the month of June- and Chris tried Stingray’s Makers Mark burger, a hand-patted beef marinated in Marker’s Mark bourbon. I also ordered a Bloody Mary that’s worth mentioning.

Called the Texas Pre-Game, it’s made with Absolute Limited Edition Texas Cucumber & Serrano Chili vodka and rimmed with hickory smoked sea salt. There’s no photo because it didn’t look all that special, but it’s good. This thing ought to come in a Mason jar and be bigger. Like Texas.

After dinner we headed back to our beach resort to stare at the stars and listen to the waves. More campers had arrived since our departure and right next to us was a Latin American rave club. Lest you doubt me, they had a disco ball. It was too dark to pull up camp and mover further down the beach but thankfully, with our car parked between the two camps, it wasn’t too bad.

If you ever go to Mustang Island State Park to camp, drive a little further down the beach. The camping area is a five mile stretch and the further down you go, the less people there are.

The next morning I was up early, sometime after sunrise but with the sun still pretty low in the sky. I needed coffee and I needed Chris to wake up and handle the camp stove for hot water. We had to get moving!

While in town the previous night, I noticed an announcement on the marquis.

Turtle Release
10:00 a.m. June 3rd
Maker 35

I wasn’t sure what it meant but I was sure I was gonna be there. I’d been praying to the Turtle Gods for weeks that I’d get to see a crawl while on this trip and my wish had been granted. I knew from the website that four nests were estimated due to hatch between May 30th and June 4th, but those usually happen very early in the morning on Padre and it isn’t the sort of thing you can plan to put on a marquis. No matter.

I’d asked the Universe for birthday turtles and I was getting them. Right after my coffee.

Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) rescues and rehabilitates marine turtles and birds from the coastal zone of Mustang Island and St. Joseph Island. Those that recover are released back into their natural habitat and on Saturday, June 3rd, they had 19 turtles ready to return to their ocean home, including the endangered Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle.

Removing Sargassum

Why aren’t we rolling in this?

Since leashed well-behaved dogs are allowed, we arrived about 45 minutes early to make sure we got a good spot. ARK volunteers had already blocked with caution tape a wide lane for the turtles to make their way to the ocean and bystanders were encouraged to help clear it by removing the clumps of sargassum that blocked their path. A microphone and loud speaker were set up and a volunteer was keeping us posted on the turtles’ ETA.

We all cheered to welcome the turtles when the trucks pulled up, and one by one, gloved volunteers carried the turtles from the trucks to the water with their flippers flapping ever more rapidly as they neared the drink. The volunteers made sure to let all the party guests get a good look and stopped to allow pictures and answer questions.

They saved the biggest one for last and it took two grown men to lift him from the truck to the beach. I think the intent was to let him crawl to the water himself, but when he didn’t start moving, they carried him.

Rehabilitated turtle

Rehab’ed and Ready

Large Sea Turtle

The Big Guy goes last

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Henri didn’t have near as much fun as I did at the turtle party and I was once again reminded of his age. He doesn’t tolerate the crowds as well or as long as he used to and he has trouble recovering when something goes wrong or startles him (like a kid dropping their plastic sand shovel on him). Though I thought he’d be ok standing with Chris while I waded out into the ocean to watch the turtles swim away, he was completely undone and I returned to a trembling dog. Since we were blocked in by other vehicles- mostly golf carts- the best I could do for him was let him sit in the car and give him some Rescue Remedy.

By 11:00 we were getting pretty hungry, and with Henri long since ready to go, as soon as we were able, we made our way down the beach to grab some lunch.

We stopped in at The Beach Lodge, Port A’s only hotel with a restaurant and bar located on On The Beach Drive. Pet-friendly lodging with no size or breed restrictions, I’d hoped this place would be just like The Sea Gypsy Inn in Ft. Myers. The gypsies are some of my favorite people, so my expectations were probably a little high. Given the Facebook reviews, I knew it might be hit or miss, but I wanted to give it a look-see.

The bar and back patio overlook the gulf. On the side patio, where dogs are allowed, the view is blocked by dunes and you’ll have to walk through the bar to get there. No one minds or even gives much notice. The menu is basic and the service slow, but if you want a cold beer on the beach, this is the place to go. I didn’t get a chance to peek into the rooms, but I did notice that each had a window unit for air-conditioning. If four-star luxury is your style, this ain’t your place. What they call a ‘sangria’ is, as best I could tell, wine and sprite.

Oldest bar in Port Aransas

Stopped for a drink. Stayed for the stories.

After lunch we headed down town to Shorty’s Place, the island’s oldest bar. I’ve got three pages of notes on this trip and one page is full of the island history (cannibals) and local gossip (murderers and thieving rats) I picked up here. The bartender Renee was an absolute hoot and a local couple in the midst of day drinking, chimed in with their own stories.

After a particularly bawdy recap, with a cigarette sandwiched between two fingers, the woman pointed at me and said, “Don’t write that in your book!”

You’ll find that Woodford is their only bourbon, and if you order a drink with soda, they have the fancy stuff. There’s a cigarette machine, a pool table, and video golf. A sign on the wall says ‘No Children after 8 p.m.’ and I’m guessing it wouldn’t be great for dogs either.

Donations accepted

Tips for Teeth

On a shelf behind the bar sits a large, plastic jug. Seems a local resident had his false teeth stolen from his night stand by a rat and they are taking up a collection to buy him some new ones. For real. The story made The Island Moon, Port A’s free weekly paper. You should grab a copy if you’re in town!

The original owner, nick-named Shorty, was murdered at the end of the bar by some young punk, and her daughter Rose took the reins. Rose has passed on too, but her birthday is celebrated every October with the ‘Pig Party’ featuring live music, and what else but a pig roast.

 

There was at least one other ‘owner murdered’ story, a son, I think, and several stories I just can’t repeat in this blog. I’m pretty sure having your teeth stolen by a rat is the best though, and I’m equally sure that something new happens every week.

If holes in the bathroom floor, old, moldy hats on the ceiling, or inappropriate adult language and content bother you, please don’t go here and say I sent you.

I warned you.

dog sleeps on floor

Keeping one eye on the door

Our next stop was The Shops at Old Town. I happily discovered that these eight local clothing, art, jewelry and home accessory shops anchored by The Phoenix restaurant and an open-space courtyard are all owned by women. So is The Phoenix. What initially caught my eye was the restaurant and a place called Tippy Toes. They sell fitted toe rings and I’ve been looking for just the right one.

Madison is the shop dog, but she doesn’t like other four-legged visitors. If you want to go inside with your own pooch, Madi’s Mom will take her to their other shop then come back and fit you for your new toe ring.

 

The patio at The Phoenix restaurant is shaded and dog-friendly. I hopped out of the car to ask before we parked and when I returned, the hostess was waiting to show us to our table and a bus boy was standing beside her with a bowl of water for Henri. The menu is best described as Asian-Beach fusion, maybe, if there can be such a thing, and it includes sushi as well as some American dishes. Since we weren’t hungry, I had a Dark and Stormy then left Chris with his beer while Henri and I shopped. Our plan was to return for dinner, but we napped on the beach and didn’t wake up until 8 p.m. They close at 9.

In addition to beach shops and dive bars, you can find plenty of other dog-friendly things to do in Port A. Rent a golf cart and drive on the beach, take your pooch for an off-leash romp in the dog park at the Port A Community Park, go fishing and find a restaurant to cook your catch, or take a kayak, canoe, or paddle board excursion on the state park paddling trail. If you throw in a visit to the Wetlands Education Center at the Marine Sciences Institute where guided tours are dog-friendly based on group size, you’ll need more than just a weekend to really enjoy it all.

Packing Up

Our plan to spend one more night on the beach was thwarted by sketchy weather. Storms were in the Sunday morning forecast for 10 a.m. Then it changed to 8. Then to 6. I sat in my chair watching lightening flash across the horizon and pondered the wisdom of risk. I did not want to be breaking camp in a storm, but further more, I didn’t want to be in a tent if that storm got upgraded to something worse. I’d seen the photos in the Island Moon of the Memorial Day campers abandoning their vehicles and campsites to scramble to higher ground.

The only problem with our relocation plan was finding dog-friendly accomodations in a tourist town, on a Saturday night, during the first official weekend of summer. Everyone we called was friendly but booked. We ended up hauling it to Corpus Christi and checking into the Best Western there. I think Henri was very happy with that decision as I’ve never seen him run into a hotel room so quickly. I didn’t mind too much either since a dip in the ocean on Saturday morning was the closest to clean I’d been since Thursday. It didn’t take any of us very long to fall asleep and the storm never came.

Checking in late night we didn’t notice the marina across the street. That gave us an excellent chance to get in a little walk and engage in some boat envy. It also allowed us to get up-close and personal with the Texas state bird.

MOSQUITOES!

There is a large grassy median across from the Best Western that looks like a great place for a dog to potty. It’s also apparently where the mosquitos nest and they wake-up hungry and viscous. Don’t go there. Stick to the small grassy area on the hotel side of the street.

We only spent one night in Corpus but it was long enough to find a dog-friendly oyster bar. Right across the street from the hotel within easy walking distance is the Water Street Market featuring the Executive Surf Club and its dog-welcoming patio complete with water bowls. They are open until 11p.m. SU-TH and 12 p.m. F-SA. You know, in case you have to pack your tent and head to higher ground after dark!

Things to know

Mustang Island State Park

We were a little concerned about driving on the beach without a high clearance or four-wheel drive vehicle, but it was no problem. The roadway is well-maintained and we saw everything from RVs to sports cars making their way down the beach.

Park entry fee is $5.00/person with 12 and under free. Overnight ‘primitive’ campsites are $10.00/night.

camping on Mustang Island

Beach Camp

Pet Rules:

  • Pets must be on a leash, in a car (please don’t leave your dog in a car in Texas!), crate, or your tent at all times. Leashes can be no longer than 6 ft.
  • You must be with your pet at all times and may not him leave him unattended in the park, your vehicle, or at your campsite.
  • No noisey or dangerous dogs allowed.
  • Pets are not allowed in state park buildings. This includes motels, cabins, screened shelters, group facilities and restrooms.
  • You must pick up pet waste.

 

 

Fishing:

  • You do not need a fishing license when fishing from the shore or jetty within the state park.
  • Bag and length limits, as well as other regulations still apply.

Things you might need for beach camping:

  • If you want to build a beach fire, take a shovel (lest you find yourself borrowing one from a friendly neighbor). You’ll need to dig a hole in the sand for your fire pit. Take extra wood, too.
  • Baby powder. Sand is going to be everywhere! To minimize tracking it into your tent or car, sprinkle some baby powder on your feet then brush it off.
  • Tailgate tent. You might want it for shade; it might get blown over by wind. Take it anyway.
  • Pop up shade and gel cooling mat for the dog.
  • Iron skillet if you want to cook and a French press if you need your morning coffee.
  • Bug spray, and I mean the kind with DEET. We didn’t have any problems on the beach or in Port A, but as soon as we got there I sprayed everyone’s feet and legs (yes, Henri, too) with OFF!
  • Canoe or kayak.

We loved our time on Mustang Island and in Port Aransas. The people are friendly, the weather is nice, and it isn’t too touristy- yet. No, the beaches aren’t like Florida, but it isn’t a river bank in Arkansas either, and they have TURTLES! In fact, turtles will be hatching from now until September. So it’s a great time to go.

This is no doubt a trip we’d do again. Who wants to join us for a Pig Party in October?!

Links to visit if planning a vacation:

Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce

Mustang Island

Mustang Island State Park

For information on seeing baby sea turtles crawl:

Padre Island National Seashore

Padre Island NS Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery

For more photos and adventure follow Travel Tails on Facebook or @mytraveltails on Instagram and Twitter.

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How To Be a Boat Dog

Sailing

Sun in the sky and wind in our sails!

At Travel Tails we like things that start with the letter ‘B.’

Beaches. Baseball. Beer. Bourbon. Henri likes Bitches and we both like BOATS!

So with our eyes on the prize of a long Memorial Day weekend, we thought it the perfect time to offer you some tips on orienting your dog to #BoatLife. Whether you’re paddling, sailing, or motor boating (we’ve done all three), there are things you can do to ensure your dog’s safety and comfort.

Let’s dive right in with the most important thing first…

PFD

Doggie life jackets are an important boat accessory

Safety First!

Even if your dog swims like Katie Ledecky, he needs a PFD in case things get rough. Henri doesn’t wear his all the time but we always have it. If the water gets choppy or the weather makes a sudden turn for the worse, we put it on. There are tons of them on the market and I don’t really have a favorite to recommend, just make sure it fits and HAS A HANDLE on the back. You’ll want that handle in case you have to fish your dog from the drink or help him in/out of the boat. I have a couple of friends with small pooches who use the handle for quick dips over the side.

Get your dog used to wearing it and comfortable swimming in it before you actually need it.

Most brands have weight and girth measurements associated with various sizes, and last year Whole Dog Journal published a review of several designs. You’ll have to be a paid subscriber or purchase the article, but it’s worth it.

Orientation

Don’t just jump in a boat and take off; your dog might panic.

Henri on the dock

Waiting for the “All Aboard!”

Introduce your dog to the boat while it’s on land or secured at the dock. Let him sniff and check things out in a controlled environment. Try running the engine to make sure he’s ok with the noise. If in a canoe or kayak, show him where to sit while it’s on land and rock it a bit. It doesn’t have to be a major production or all-day training event- it only took about 15 minutes to get Henri ready for our first ocean kayak– but do take a few minutes to let your pooch acclimate.

Communication

Assuming your dog already knows some basic commands, ‘wait’ and ‘load-up’ are useful cues to add to a boat dog’s vocabulary. Henri has also learned, through no specific training, the term ‘Hang on!’ He will square off and steady himself as best he can when it’s yelled.

Hydration

You don’t drink lake/river/ocean water and neither should your dog. Ingesting a little bit isn’t likely to make him sick, but make sure you pack fresh water and a bowl. I shouldn’t really have to say this.

Safety Zone

Create a space on the boat where your dog feels comfortable. On sailboats or cuddy boats, down below or in the berth is a good spot. On the ski boat, Henri likes it under the Captain’s chair; in a canoe, he rides between my feet. Whatever space you choose, make sure the surface is non-slip. For that, we use what I refer to as our ‘surf mat’.

Stand-up paddle boarding

First time on SUP together!

A surf mat is nothing but a cheap bath mat from Walmart. It rolls up and fits neatly in our boat bag. If we are on a boat with fiberglass and no carpet, the surf mat gives Henri a good place to stand. At this point, he is familiar enough with the mat that I can throw it on any boat and he knows that’s his spot. Super handy on a kayak or paddleboard!

If you own the boat and aren’t just a guest, you might want to consider applying non-slip shower strips to slick surfaces and using your surf mat for dog bowls.

Tether

To tether or not to tether? That is the question. My answer? HELL NO!

If the boat goes over, I don’t want my dog tied to me or the ship.

That goes for canoeing and kayaking, too. Henri and I once went over in a kayak and as I felt the boat starting to go, I was able to grab him and throw him clear. It’s actually a very funny story, but I would not have had time to reach for his line and unclip him. In a real emergency, it’s likely you won’t either. It’s my opinion that your dog has a much better chance of escaping if he isn’t tied to anything.

That being said, if you do chose to tether your dog, then do it with a harness NOT his collar.

Dog Ramp

If your boat doesn’t have a swim deck, or even if it does, you may want to consider a portable, floating dog ramp. Again, there are lots of styles. So you’ll need to do some research based on your boat and your dog’s size. We’ve never used one of these but I can see how it’d be great to have. Getting in and out, especially if you have a bigger dog, would be safer and easier.

Additional Accessories

Here’s where I could make a very long list of things to have with you when boating with your dog. There exists everything from protective eyewear to sun visors, and though I did once spend a somewhat ridiculous sum on a Jolly Roger collar, much of that stuff just seems excessive.

Gel mat and cooling bandana

Staying’ cool!

Our boat bag basics are as follows:

  • First aid kit that suffices for both humans and dogs. In this you might want to consider including pet approved medication for motion sickness.
  • Gel cooling pad and/or cooling bandana. We bought both of these items last summer and it was some of the best money went spent accessory-wise.
  • Pet-approved sunscreen. Truthfully, I generally just wipe a bit of mine onto Henri’s nose but it would be irresponsible of me to suggest that you do the same.
  • Sunglasses straps. This is for me and if I could actually remember to use them, I’d save a lot of money.

 

If you’d like more tips that aren’t exclusively boat oriented, check out Summer Tips for Canine Trips and/or Ask the Experts, a post in which I asked several vets to answer the question: What do you consider to be the most important health and/or safety consideration when traveling with your pet?

Summer is just getting started and if you want to keep up with our adventures then LIKE us on Facebook at /TravelTails and FOLLOW us on Twitter and Instagram @mytraveltails. In addition, we’d love for you to SHARE your own tips or thoughts in the comments and TELL YOUR FRIENDS!

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America’s Favorite Pastime With Your Favorite Canine

Purina Pooches in the Ballpark

Pooches in the Ballpark 2016. Cardinals vs. Rangers

The Boys of Summer are finally back and we’ve got a list of all the MLB dog-friendly games plus a few tips to help you enjoy them. More teams than ever are hosting ‘bring your dog events’ and several teams are hosting more than one. Minor league parks are in on the action too, so don’t forget to check out your local club schedule for ticket information.

Tips

Please keep in mind that regardless of who your team is, the major league games typically sell-out quickly and at least a few do not allow walk-ups. At all games, be prepared to show proof that your dog’s vaccinations are current and be willing to sign a waiver.

Dog event at Globe Life

Bark at the Ballpark 2015. Texas Rangers.

We’ve been to two MLB games, Pooches in the Ballpark hosted by the St. Louis Cardinals and Bark at the Park hosted by the Texas Rangers. Last year’s ‘Pooches’ event had over 300 dogs in attendance, so dogs should be well-socialized and friendly towards people and other pets. You’ll need to keep your pooch on a leash at all times, pick-up any messes, and of course, be respectful of other fans.

Two other things to keep in mind are the weather and your pup’s stamina. Many of these games are taking place late in the summer and though most of the parks will have wadding pools or cooling stations of some sort, be prepared to make your pooch stays comfy and cool.

We always carry our own water bowl, and for these events, a cooling bandana and a gel cooling pad.

As for stamina, you already know a baseball game can last way more than nine innings. However, at many of these games, you can’t just walk up and go right in the gate. You have to check-in and that means waiting in line before the game. If you want the swag bag, another line. And all that noise and stimulation…? It can limit how much your dog can take. Consider whether or not your dog has 3-5 hours in him and whether or not you’re willing to leave a tie ballgame if he doesn’t.

Games

If you don’t see a game listed for your favorite team, it’s because I don’t have a date yet. The White Sox, Tigers, Phillies and Rockies all had games last year but haven’t announced when or if they’ll have them this year. The Braves are in a new park and apparently don’t want dogs in it. Hopefully, they’ll either change their minds or get back to it in 2018. You Braves fans- and anyone else without a dog-friendly game- ought to complain. On the other hand, Arizona Diamondbacks should have zero complaints.

I didn’t list their games because there are just TOO MANY!

That’s right! In 2016, PetSmart and the Diamondbacks partnered to create the first-ever season-long dog-friendly ballpark with a dedicated PetSmart Patio, PetSmart Park and the Dog Days of Summer program. This year that program includes 20 Sunday and Monday games that you can attend with your dog. Tickets packages start at $160 and include a semi-private space for four, access to All-You-Can-Eat hot dogs, soda, water, popcorn, peanuts, and chips for the humans, pup-approved ‘ice cream’ for the dogs and…an indoor (air-conditioned)/ outdoor baseball themed DOG PARK. I think we’ve found our next baseball road trip!

Now without further ado and in order of appearance, here’s the rest of the line-up…

  • New York Mets – Sunday, April 9th vs. the Marlins
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – Tuesday, April 11th vs. the Reds
  • Kansas City Royals – Wednesday, April 19th vs. the Giants
  • Tampa Bay Rays – Sunday, April 23rd vs. the Astros
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – Tuesday, April 25th vs. the Cubs
  • Washington Nationals – Saturday, April 29th vs. the Mets
  • Cincinnati Reds – Wednesday, May 3rd vs. the Pirates
  • Texas Rangers – Saturday, May 13th vs. the Athletics
  • Washington Nationals – Saturday, May 13th vs. the Phillies
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – Tuesday, May 16th vs. the Nationals
  • Seattle Mariners – Thursday, May 18th vs. the White Sox
  • Los Angeles Dodgers – Saturday, May 20th vs. the Marlins
  • St. Louis Cardinals – Saturday, May 20th vs. the Giants
  • Kansas City Royals – Tuesday, May 30th vs. the Tigers
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – Tuesday, May 30th vs. the Diamondbacks
  • Miami Marlins – Saturday, June 3rd vs. the Diamondbacks
  • Milwaukee Brewers – Tuesday, June 6th vs. the Giants
  • Cincinnati Reds – Wednesday, June 7th vs. the Cardinals
  • Washington Nationals – Saturday, June 10th vs. the Rangers
  • San Francisco Giants – Sunday, June 11th vs. the Twins
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – Tuesday, June 13th vs. the Rockies
  • Washington Nationals – Sunday, June 25th vs. the Reds
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – Tuesday, June 27th vs. the Rays
  • San Diego Padres – Thursday, June 29th vs. the Braves
  • Seattle Mariners – Thursday, July 6th vs. the Athletics
  • Oakland Athletics – Friday, July 14th vs. the Indians
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – Tuesday, July 18th vs. the Brewers
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – Tuesday, August 1st vs. the Reds
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – Tuesday, August 8th vs. the Tigers
  • Colorado Rockies – Wednesday, August 16th vs. the Braves
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – Tuesday, August 22nd vs. the Dodgers
  • Cincinnati Reds – Tuesday, August 29th vs. the Mets
  • Kansas City Royals – Wednesday, August 30th vs. the Ray
  • New York Mets – Monday, Sept 4th vs. the Phillies
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – Tuesday, Sept 5th vs. the Cubs
  • Seattle Mariners – Tuesday, Sept 5th vs. the Astros
  • Washington Nationals – Thursday, Sept 7th vs. the Phillies
  • Arizona Diamondbacks – Sunday, Sept 10th vs. the Padres
  • Houston Astros – Sunday, Sept 17th vs. the Mariners
  • Cincinnati Reds – Thursday, Sept 21st vs. the Cardinals
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – Tuesday, Sept 19th vs. the Brewers
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – Tuesday, Sept 26th vs. the Orioles
  • Washington Nationals – Saturday, Sept 30th vs. the Pirates

Is your dog ready? Let’s PLAY BALL!

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Orlando Fresh & More Dog-Friendly

Lake Eola Fountain

The heart of downtown Orlando- Lake Eola.

Everytime I go to Orlando I find something new to love. It is an ever-evolving city and one that has been dear to my heart since 1990 when I participated in the Walt Disney World College Program. I often wonder why I ever left.

Fortunately, I have a very good girlfriend who still lives there and each year on the first Saturday of March, she and her husband host a huge crawfish boil. That is all the excuse I’ll ever need to leave the bi-polar spring weather of Northwest Arkansas and enjoy the constant sunshine of Central Florida.

There are at least two things I always do when I’m there. The first is visit downtown and the Lake Eola area; the second is go to Walt Disney’s World’s EPCOT Center. You can read about previous dog-friendly adventures in Orlando in The City Beautiful or if you’re interested in a WDW family vacation that includes the dog, you can check out my guest post for the Mama’s at NWAMotherlode.

I have new things to tell you about the aforementioned places, as well as my discovery of the brick-lined streets of the very dog-friendly downtown Sanford.

Downtown Orlando

Downtown Orlando covers a pretty broad expanse of space. However, Lake Eola and the surrounding area is where I’d choose to work and play if I lived there; there is always something happening.

Check out Movieola on Friday, April 28th on the East Lawn. They’re showing The Secret Life of Pets.

Swan diets at Lake Eola

Please follow the rules

I don’t know if I can pick just one favorite thing about Lake Eola but if I were to make a list, the swans and how much the city does to care for and protect them would be at the top. There are signs everywhere asking people not to feed them and in the spring, orange fencing protects each nest. I saw at least five swans, including a black one, nesting inside these protected areas. I really wish I was going to be there to see all the babies!

The other thing topping my list is pedestrian-only traffic- no bicycles or skaters allowed- and that makes strolling the .9 mile sidewalk around the lake a pleasure. There are a couple of restaurants located on the path and both, Spice Modern Steakhouse (ask to see the sushi menu) and Relax, are dog-friendly. This trip we opted for lunch at Relax Grill. Featuring mediterranean cuisine and an expansive list of cocktails, it’s a great place to quench your thirst and people watch. Dog guests are even brought their own bowls. I can’t say I whole-heartedly recommend the food but their Bloody Mary’s are great and on a pretty Saturday or Sunday, there is almost always a wait.

After lunch we ventured away from Lake Eola where we discovered Eola Wine Company. No lake view, but with a fenced sidewalk patio, it’s a great spot to try a new vintage or an entire flight while you take in the city. Even on a Monday afternoon just after opening, this place had a few guests and one small dog taking up space. I’m guessing it’s the perfect happy hour location and certainly beats rush hour traffic.

The last (new to me) find was Woof Gang Bakery and Grooming in Thorton Park. Offering gourmet treats, canine couture, pet themed gifts, and doggie fro-yo, you’re sure to find something for the discerning pet or pet parent in your life. Have a seat on the front porch of this cottage while you enjoy your treats or drop your pooch for a bath before grabbing lunch.

Obviously, there’s a lot of sitting, drinking, and people watching, and maybe THAT’S my favorite thing about the Lake Eola area. Whether on a blanket in the grass or at a bar overlooking the fountain, it’s prime real estate for lounging and almost every patio you see has a dog on it.

If you’d like to get out of downtown, then check out Baldwin Park for their family and pet friendly sidewalk festival every first Friday of the month. You’ll be able to browse through the booths of over 70 local artisans, as well as small businesses and non-profits.

EPCOT

EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival

Welcome Spring Fun, Food and Flowers! EPCOT main entrance.

Unless you’re Pluto, EPCOT isn’t dog-friendly, though I did see more “service dogs” this year than I’ve ever seen in the past. Since Walt Disney World is supposed to be the happiest place on earth, I’ll stay off my soapbox, but suffice it to say…I’m pretty sure some of you are taking advantage of the system and you should read my 5 dos and don’ts of dog travel and leave your pup at Best Friends.

EPCOT Lady and the Tramp topiaries

Lady and the Tramp make their return to Italy

Since EPCOT isn’t a dog-friendly place, I won’t bore you with the details of the Twinings Green Tea frozen berry mint julep or the sugar cane skewered shrimp marinated in coconut lime curry or the stunning topiaries that are the hallmark of the International Flower and Garden Festival. If you pick up a Garden Passport at the main entrance, it will tell you everything you need to know and where to find it. #FreshEPCOT

The one thing you do need to know is…

Guest Services is on Twitter and their responses to your tweets (even if you’re just teasing them) are pretty fast!

Back in the old days, if guests had a question like “How many lights are on the Electric Light Parade?” there existed what I called the ‘Rat Phone’. Because the proper answer is NOT “I don’t know,” regardless of how busy you are, there existed a phone with an operator on the other end. Any cast member- that’s a Disney employee – could pick up that phone and in minutes come back with an answer to just about any question a guest could ask.

“What time is the 3:00 parade?”

The very Disney answer to that question is “That depends upon where on the parade route you are seated,” followed by the explanation that though the parade does start at three, if you are sitting toward the end of the route, you will not see the first of the parade until later.

Now guests can just tweet questions and problems directly to a team of cast members, many of which are former College Program Alumni, who are ready and waiting to help you.

The 2017 Flower and Garden Festival runs through May 29th and if you’re headed that direction drop me a line. I’d be happy to point (using two fingers) you in the direction of my favorite drinks, I mean spots. I even know exactly where to charge your phone if it dies.

Sanford

If you’re an Orlando travel pro, you might already be avoiding the chaos of Orlando International and flying into Sanford (SFB). I highly recommend it. With bike week and spring break both starting, I was through TSA and at the bar in less than 10 minutes on my return flight. But it’s not the airport that is my new discovery; I’ve been flying there for several years. It’s the small downtown riverwalk area – all located within a two-block radius of Magnolia Square – that I’ve been missing.

Be sure to visit the brick-lined streets of this quaint, dog-friendly, waterfront town and enjoy a slower side of tourism in Central Florida.

As we roamed in search of a restaurant we wanted to try, I saw lots of dogs dining with their folks. All of them had water bowls that appeared to have been provided by the establishments. Amid conversation and distractions, I think we passed our breakfast destination twice. A little bigger than a hole in the wall with accommodations for I’m guessing 30-ish people, we finally found The Tennessee Truffle.

Dear Tennessee Truffle:

Please get some cafe chairs for outside. Put mine and Henri’s names on the back of one and save us a spot. And some bacon. We’d like to have all the bacon.

Happy Tails,

Denise

Y’all! This place was SO good. From the lemon-verbena sweet iced tea to the homemade biscuits and house-cured bacon, if I weren’t too old to use ‘fleek’ in conversation, I’d tell you that they were.

Chef Nat Russell brings his southern cuisine and charm straight from Memphis and was behind the walk-up counter taking orders. Old church pews provide some of the seating at chalkboard tables and Memphis-inspired artwork hangs on the brick walls.

I couldn’t resist trying the BLT and added a fried egg at Chef Nat’s suggestion. My girlfriend had the salmon with a side of perfectly cooked grits that came dressed with sorghum and crushed pecans. Like most southern girls, I’ve always drowned mine in butter, but I promise sorghum will be making an appearance on my table the next time I make grits.

Tennessee Truffle is fairly new to the Sanford food scene but I’m predicting they’ll be around for a bit. Fingers crossed for a dog-friendly patio expansion!

Art walls in Sandford

The exterior walls are art

With a very full belly, some sweet tea to go and a little time before my flight, we decided to wander. Be sure to visit, Arthur, the Frenchie, who guards the gallery at Jeanine Taylor Folk Art. He’s super-friendly and will happily accept your scratchies. Stroll through the gallery to discover everything from a mermaid riding a marlin to a wooly sheep footstool. When you leave be sure to take notice of the exterior walls which are an extension of the gallery.

You’ll also discover special events in Sanford, like the Sanford Pints and Paws Craft Beer Festival, which we missed by one day, and a farmer’s market every Saturday from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Those are my kind of hours!

2018

I’ll be back in Orlando next year, hopefully with Henri in tow. We’ve already planned a girl’s day at EPCOT and we’ll be the group of 40-something women in princess costumes. In the meantime, rest assured that I’ve got my eye on things; I can’t wait to see what pops up in and around The City Beautiful between now and then.

 

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Dog-Friendly Fayetteville Makes U.S. News Top 5

Razorback Stadium

Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Home of the Razorbacks. Fayetteville, AR

Once again, our hometown of Fayetteville, Arkansas made the top 5 in U.S. News and World Report “Best Places to Live’. Last year we were number three and this year we round out the top five behind Austin, Denver, San Jose and Washington, D.C. We may have slipped a bit but that’s pretty good company.

For those of you wondering what makes Fayetteville so great or how U.S. News decides, Kim Castro, executive editor at U.S. News said, “When considering a move people are concerned about finding a job in their field (we don’t need any more dog trainers), earning enough to afford a home (I can keep the lights on), sending their kids to good schools (we have several doggie day cares), and feeling like a part of their community (philanthropy, politics, and sports- you pick). The Best Places to Live ranking takes all of that into account- the metro areas that do well are the ones with the strong job markets and high quality of life.”

Dog-friendly bar is full

Window seats are taken at Brewski’s on Dickson St

I live downtown in Fayetteville’s historic district. We’re a mostly liberal group- as evidenced by the political signs that occasionally appear in my neighborhood- but we aren’t crazy radicals; we like HSUS but PETA is a little out there. On Sundays, Henri and I can walk to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church for the 7:30 a.m. pet-friendly mass, or we can sleep late and Sunday Funday downtown on Dickson Street. We can walk to at least three dog-friendly restaurants and in five miles hit three breweries along our trail system with a fourth currently under construction.

 

If you want to branch out and drive, the options are endless, especially if you factor in the rest of Northwest Arkansas and all the dog-friendly options in Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville. We are, right now, at Sassafrass Springs Winery in Springdale. It’s where we go when Mommy needs to write but Henri needs to roam. It’s not the only dog-friendly winery in our area, either; it’s just the closest to our house.

In addition to dog-friendly restaurants, wineries and breweries, Fayetteville has some great festivals- most of them being relatively dog-friendly. By “relatively”, I mean they allow dogs but you might want to consider whether or not your dog will be happy there. For instance, SpringFest is OK for dogs, there’s even a dog parade, but Block Street Block Party has gotten really big (and AWESOME!) and although dogs are allowed, I did NOT take Henri last year.

We have LOTS of specifically dog-friendly events though.

The Humane Society of the Ozarks hosts the Dogwood Walk at Gulley Park and the Family Play Day at Sassafrass Springs every year and Fayetteville Animal Services benefits from the annual Pup Crawl on Dickson Street. Northwest Arkansas’ minor league ball club has Bark in the Park events and there is usually more than one church or organization hosting a Blessing of the Animals in honor of St. Francis of Assisi in October. We have TWO dog-friendly Mardi Gras krewes- one in Fayetteville and one in Eureka Springs (about an hour away and super dog-friendly) ready to ‘laissez les bons temps rouler’ for you and your dog.

Fayetteville's off-leash hiking area

Off-leash at Lake Wilson

The only thing really lacking on the dog-friendly scene in Fayetteville is dog parks. We only have one on the west side of town. However, if you and your dog like a little off-leash adventure, on the southeast side of town, looping Lake Wilson, we have a trail specifically designated as an ‘off-leash’ hiking area.

The other things you can find in Fayetteville, and all of Northwest Arkansas, are beautiful trails. From the 37 miles of paved trail stretching from south Fayetteville to Bella Vista to the more rugged adventures of the Ozark Mountains and the nearby Buffalo River, you can walk, hike or bike in a variety of nearby places. We have several rivers to paddle and 487 miles of natural shoreline on the 44 square mile Beaver Lake. My favorite marina is less than an hour from my front door and you can catch us there year ‘round.

Ever been snow sailing? Eagle watching? You can do that here.

All of that being said, the thing I like most about Fayetteville/Northwest Arkansas is the central location. Henri is too big for airline travel- HE IS NOT CARGO!- but we are less than a 12 hour drive from a lot of cool places…Sante Fe, Chicago, Austin, and my personal favorite, the beach.

I started writing this post on a sunny day at Sassafrass Springs and I’m wrapping it up on a rainy day, sitting inside with Henri at Core Brewery, which perfectly sums up my point.

Number 5? We think we’re number 1. If you can’t beat us, join us!

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