Chewy On This!

Chewy box delivery

Special delivery!

So, in case you aren’t following us on Facebook or Instagram, or didn’t understand the title of this post, I’m really excited to announce… 

I’M A CHEWY INFLUENCER!

This is how we met…

My Chewy story began with my training clients. They invite me into their homes and lives, and rely on me to help them provide the best for their pets. I value their trust and I’m p i c k y about referrals. Many of my clients were already using their services and making comments like, “I’ll order it from Chewy.” Based on their reported experiences, more and more, I found myself comfortable referencing them. If there was a product we needed quickly- Adaptil comes to mind- or if I was looking for something fun to entertain a bored dog- like the Tether Tug– I was whipping out my phone to check their site or show a product.

It wasn’t until April 2018 (when Henri needed a tux and FAST), that I personally ordered from Chewy. My confidence in their ability to deliver came from my clients’ rave reviews and more than a little desperation. They promised his tux would be here before we left town and it was. I’m still waiting on a Victoria’s Secret order I placed on the 9th that was supposed to be here on the 14th. I called today. They don’t know where it is. But I digress…

It isn’t just the fulfillment of a delivery promise, it’s the ‘above and beyond’ that really impressed me. From suggesting that an unused bag of food or a collar that didn’t fit quite right be donated to a local shelter (with a replacement on the way at no additional charge) to sending a card to a grieving pet parent, it was clear to me that Chewy was doing something different

I finally decided it was time to reach out!

I wanted to Pawtner Up with Chewy in some way, though I wasn’t sure how. Feature their products, write travel content for their blog…? On a whim, I sent them an email. Quick to respond, they invited me to join their influencer program.  

This is how it works…

As a Chewy Influencer, each month I’ll receive a special newsletter with 14 plus featured items. Goodies range from premium pet food to treats, to grooming products and toys. I get to pick TWO and have them delivered straight to my door. Along with saying ‘YES!” to the gig, I asked if I could share with clients and friends. Henri is pushing 12. His opinion of toys isn’t what it used to be and his need for training aides is pretty minimal. Now, if it’s a product that makes travel more comfortable or it involves treats, we might get stingy.

All we have to do in return is offer our honest opinion and y’all know I’ve got plenty those! Church of the Painful Truth, as one girlfriend likes to call it.  

You’ll be able to find our monthly reviews on Instagram, Twitter, and/or Facebook, and if you’re one of my lucky clients or happen to run into me at event, there’s a good chance I’ll be toting a little something extra from our new friends. Our first treat sample was a hit with Henri, most of the dogs at the paddle clinic I taught, and one lone beggar at the Dog Days of Summer event at Sassafrass Springs Vineyard.  

As a Walt Disney World College Program Alum, I learned about customer service from one of the best in the industry. That was in 1990. These days, I’m fairly certain it’s just Disney and Chewy doing it right. Chewy offers 24/7 help online and if you call their 1-800 number a REAL person answers, not a recording asking you to push buttons. Don’t believe me? Try it. It’s 2:45 p.m. central time and I just got off the phone with Alonzo. 

I’m super-proud to say I’m helping Chewy make happiness happen and I hope you’ll follow us and give some of our suggestions a try!!  

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Downtown & Dog Friendly in Baton Rouge

Balcony view of the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge

Perfect view of the Mississippi River from our balcony

If you’re going to host the perfect party, then you need a perfect venue. That’s more easily said than done if your party includes 250 people and their dogs decked out in ball gowns and tuxedos. Fortunately for us, the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center was nothing less than that on the weekend of April 20th when we headed to town for a Fur Ball weekend.

Check-In

Check-in at the Hilton is at 3:00 p.m. (check-out is at noon, God love ’em!) and we arrived around 4:00 p.m. Since all our weekend adventures included places we could walk, I pulled up to valet and handed over my keys. With several attendants available, it wasn’t long  before the friendly staff had me unloaded onto a cart and I was watching my car disappear.

Rest A While Park in Baton Rouge

Potty area at Rest A While Park

Before heading to our room, I inquired about a potty area. The Hilton takes up a block on Lafayette between Florida and Convention Streets and the potty area at Rest A While Park is on the corner of Convention and Layfayette. You’ll have to cross Convention to get to the small green space but it isn’t too inconvenient, and at night it is well lit enough that I felt safe taking Henri there alone.

The only unpleasantry is that what should be a downtown oasis with beautifully matured Live Oaks providing shaded seating is in desperate need of a poop pick up. The park is not Hilton property, so I’m not blaming them, but whoever you people are who aren’t picking up after your dogs…YOU’RE THE REASON WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS!

After our potty trip we met the valet at the elevator and followed him to our room. For our two night stay in Baton Rouge, the Hilton graciously comp’ed us a king room with a balcony over-looking the Mississippi. This made it really difficult to do our tourist duty, because after 7 hours in the car all I wanted to do was sit on that balcony and watch barges as the sun set over the water.

Friday Night

We had a little over an hour to kill before meeting my girlfriend downtown for Live After Five. That means Henri got to nap while Mommy washed off road dirt and got ready. I did at least grab a cocktail from the Kingfish Lounge in the hotel lobby and take advantage of my balcony view while sipping it.

 

Live After Five in Baton rouge

A little too live for dogs

Live After Five is a weekly concert series presented by the Downtown Business Association. It includes a stage with live music, as well as food and drink vendors, and it is FREE. No one told us we couldn’t be there with a dog, but I’m not sure I’d call it “dog-friendly.” Frankly, it was a little too live for us and we didn’t stay long.

We opted instead to find a nice restaurant with outdoor seating where we could avoid the crowd and the noise. We didn’t have to look far, as Capital City Grill is only about a block from the Hilton and it was on our route.

Metal tables and chairs sit just outside the front door of the restaurant on the plaza of the Manship Theater. Light jazz played on their speakers, but the pleasantness of that was mostly drowned out by the music echoing from Live. Good company, a bottle of wine, and a chance to catch up with one of my besties while Henri relaxed made up for that.

Since Henri had turned down food at breakfast that morning and dinner the night before, I decided he was due for something more tempting than his usual fare. I was pleased to discover a plain grilled chicken breast served with rice and a veggie of the day, which turned out to be broccoli. I placed a togo order for the chicken so it would come in a box and not on a restaurant plate, then ordered the Mahi Corn Maque Chow for myself. Based on how quickly Henri emptied his box, I’m fairly certain his chicken was as good as my fish. Mine might have been better.

With full bellies, we wandered back to our hotel and went to our room to take advantage of the warm night air and our quiet balcony. After another hour(ish) of girl gossip, it was lights out. I selected my breakfast from the room service menu and hung the tag on the door with a note that said “Dog in room. He will bark but he is nice.”

Saturday Shennanigans

Had I known what a good night’s sleep I’d get or how early I’d be awake, I’d have scheduled my breakfast to come a little earlier. I only had one package of caffinated coffee in my room and I was finished with it long before my breakfast arrived. The good news is the delay gave me time to take Henri to potty and realize his tummy was still upset. So when we returned to the room, I called room service to add an order of plain scrambled eggs to my breakfast. Yes, it was for Henri.

You may call him spoiled, but I say he’s well-kept.

Since Saturday night was the BIG night and the reason we’d come to Baton Rouge, I’d planned to take it easy Saturday morning. A trip to the farmer’s market followed by lunch was all we had planned. We took the elevator to the lobby and noticed that Fur Ball set-up was in full swing. We met our table hostess and tireless volunteer, Elizabeth, and Henri scored one of the highly coveted signature bow ties. If I’d known then, what I know now, I’d have taken a sneak-peak into the ballroom to check out those table decorations before the ceiling lights went out and the event lights came on!

Daytime Downtown

St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Baton Rouge

St. Joseph Cathedral built in 1853

When doing my research for this trip the one thing I couldn’t quite figure out was the farmer’s market situation. It appeared there were two markets in Baton Rouge, one dog-friendly and one not, but I never could quite nail down which was which or where they were. One was within walking distance of our hotel, so we just decided to head there. Much to our dismay Red Stick Farmer’s Market is NOT dog-friendly. Additionally, there aren’t two markets, just the one and it moves from place to place. No dogs at the farmer’s market left us with time to kill so we got all touristy.

Downtown Baton Rouge was shockingly deserted compared to Friday night and my Saturday morning expectations. The streets were quiet and there was little traffic. Our first stop was St. Joseph Cathedral, a white, Gothic Revival church with strikingly beautiful red doors marking the locked entrance. I mean, I wasn’t gonna go to confession, but I might have lit a candle, and I would have loved to have seen the inside of that historic building.

With not much else to do or see, we wandered back to our hotel to discover a whole bunch of stuff going on! Military officers everywhere indicated some sort of convention or incident, and musicians setting up in the lobby bar provided even more activity. I soon discovered our hotel was indeed playing host to a military officers convention, in addition to being one of the local music venues for the 3rd Street Songwriters Festival. I located a festival schedule that revealed music would be starting in our lobby at 1. I could not have felt more lucky.

Songwriters Festival

Songwriters in the Hilton Baton Rouge lobby

Songwriters in our lobby

The 3rd Street Songwriters Festival is an annual event featuring local, regional, and national songwriters. Songwriters get a chance to have their original compositions critiqued by a professional panel, as well as participate in traditional Nashville-style rounds at venues along 3rd Street. Our dog-friendly lobby bar, with a lunch menu featuring selections from the Kingfish Grill, was the perfect setting for a relaxed and casual afternoon. I suggest you try the Louisiana Chicken Sandwich. It was more than enough for me, and after scraping off the fire roasted peppers, onions, and BBQ sauce, I let Henri have the rest.

Riverfront Plaza

Fletcher-class destroyer USS Kidd

USS Kid, The Pirate of the Pacific

We enjoyed about an hour and a half of music before Henri’s gas alerted me that he might need a potty break. At the very least, he didn’t need to continue laying beneath the table offending others. We walked over to the Rest A While, but he didn’t go; it was hard to blame him. I don’t like to use public restrooms when the toilet hasn’t been flushed. I thought if we did a bit more walking he might find a suitable location, so we headed toward the Riverfront Plaza walkway.

The walkway meanders along the Mississippi River levee and from where we were we could see our hotel and our little balcony. We strolled the brick-lined sidewalk to the observation deck overlooking the river and then paused in front of the USS Kid for a photo op. As Henri’s tongue began to hang further and turn pinker, I decided a return to our room and a nap before the evening’s festivities might benefit us both.

Fur Ball

Next up on our schedule was the Fur Ball, an elaborate and fabulously organized formal event where your dog can be your date. Our hotel was the party venue and what a party it was! If you’ve never been to a tailgate, a crawfish boil, Mardi Gras, or St. Patrick’s Day in Baton rouge, then I’m not sure I can adequately describe these people to you. They are next level party professionals and they know how to have a good time. 

I’ll be telling you more about the Fur Ball and Companion Animal Alliance, the non-profit it supports, in my next post. Until then, be sure to check out photos from all our adventures on Instagram and follow us on Facebook. You never know when we’ll head back to Baton Rouge or at least stop there on our way to somewhere else.

Booking with Hilton

If you’re headed to Baton Rouge, we hope you’ll consider booking your pet-friendly stay at the Hilton. They comp’ed us our room but they didn’t pay us to say they were awesome. With all the things going on at the hotel that weekend, it would have been easy to over-look a girl and her dog. Yet, somehow, every time we exited the elevator someone at the desk said hello and on several occasions offered Henri a cookie from the treat jar.

If booking your stay with Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center, here are the highlights from their 16 point Pet Agreement:

  • Pets must be domesticated dogs or cats weighing no more than 75 lbs.
  • No more than 2 pets per room
  • A $50.00 non-refundable, per stay service fee will be charged to your final bill
  • Pets may be left unattended in your guest room but the “Pet Friendly Room” door hanger must be placed on the door and the front desk notified of your absence

Tell them Travel Tails sent you and PICK UP YOUR POOP!

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Date Me, Date My Dog: Valentine’s Day Tips for Dog Lovers

Custom dog cake from Three Dog Bakery

Cake available from Three Dog Bakery in Bentonville, AR

A good girlfriend recently sent me a silicon wine cup that says “It’s not drinking alone if your dog is home.” A perfect gift that also perfectly sums up how I feel about Valentine’s Day. For those of you who might not be as content as I am to avoid dating disasters and simply spend time with your furry favorite, here are some ideas on how you can find and share time with a significant two-legged other AND your dog.

Dating Sites

Twindog dating app for dog lovers

Available in the app store on your smart phone.

If you’re still looking for love in all the wrong places, then maybe you need something other than Tinder. How about Twindog? Formerly Tindog, the app lets you swipe right to meet that cutie with the hot human, swipe left to avoid someone who just spent $1500 on the newest designer-doodle.

Date My Pet is another online dating service that has been featured in USA Today and on Good Morning America. Not just a dating site, they also feature trending articles on everything from myths about sex to Why You Should Date a Girl with a Dog. I suggest you read that one.

If you’ve been on Match and grown tired of selfies in the bathroom mirror then maybe you should try Pet People Meet. Their website says they are “Dating Partners” with Match.com. I’m guessing that means they use a similar algorithm, but what do I know? I was only on Match for one month when a well-intentioned friend purchased me a membership. I spent the majority of that time cutting and pasting bios into emails that I would then forward to a girlfriend who is a high school English teacher. Needless to say, I had more laughs than dates.

Date Ideas

Whether it’s just you and your dog on Valentine’s Day or you’ve organized a threesome with your mate and your mutt, there are plenty of ways to spend time together. Depending on where you live, finding a restaurant patio for dining in February might be difficult but no worries! I’ve included ideas for doggie dates that’ll keep you indoors and cozied up even if the weather isn’t cooperating.

Visit a Dog-Friendly Winery or Brewery

Vineyard in Springdale, AR

Sassafrass Springs Vineyard

In our travels, we’ve discovered that breweries are an easy go-to for dog-friendliness and whether it’s the taproom or the side-yard, it seems a lot of them will welcome your pooch in some portion of their establishment. Many of the breweries even use their spent grain to make dog treats and/or sell dog swag. So while you’re sipping on your Sexual Chocolate at Foothills Brewing Co in No. Carolina, make sure your pooch gets a little something too.

If fruit is more your thing, then a stroll through a dog-friendly vineyard might be the perfect afternoon. Sassafrass Springs is our local favorite and since we last featured them, they’ve added an indoor fireplace with blankets and cozy seating for three. To locate a dog-friendly winery near you, visit our new friends, the Cork Hounds. We’ll be guest blogging for them in the future, as well as referencing them when we travel. Their database currently includes over 1800 dog-friendly wineries in 24 different states.

Pack a picnic

Picnic at Ascot backpack

Backpack by Picnic at Ascot

How long has it been since you packed a picnic basket with your favorite snacks and headed somewhere with a view? If you choose a short hike instead of the park, your dog will thank you for the woodland sniffs and you’ll likely find a more secluded and private spot to spread your blanket. A hill or mountain top at sunset is my suggestion.

Don’t want to lug a picnic basket on a hike? Try one of these backpack versions instead.

Outdoor movie or drive-in

This is actually one of my favorite summertime activities with Henri. Our local drive-in always has a double feature and I like to go on Sunday nights. It’s a great way to wind down a busy weekend and there are usually less kids. If you live somewhere with a year ’round warm climate, then I bet you can find one in your neck of the woods. A quick search of “outdoor movies in February” gave me lots of options… in California.

Visit a farmer’s market

Another of my favorite activities is shopping the local farmer’s market. It makes a great casual date, especially if it’s followed by brunch. To punch up the romance a bit, skip the restaurant brunch and instead head home with your fresh finds and create something together. If your date buys you flowers, you might have a keeper.

Don’t have a dog? Then visit your local shelter.

Ours is hosting a My Furry Valentine event featuring a pizza and pasta buffet and $14 adoptions for matches made at the event.

Where will you find or celebrate love this year? Tell us in the comments or share with us on social media.

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Every Dog Has His Day on 30A

Christmas at the beach

Merry Christmas from the beach at Pompano Joe’s in Destin, FL!

Before you head to the sugar-white beaches of Destin and 30A with your pooch, there are some things you should know. Let’s start with where dogs are and are not allowed, and what it’s going to cost you if you get busted.

Is your attorney liscensed in Florida? Henri’s is not.

In Okaloosa County, where Destin stretches for about 8 miles along HWY 98, dogs are NOT allowed on ANY beaches, anywhere, whether they are residents or not. NO DOGS. The fine for a first offense is typically $100 ($200 for the 2nd, $300 for the 3rd), but the county deputies can fine you as much as $300 the first time if they so choose.

Just down the road on 30A in Walton County (South Walton) resident dogs with permits and leashes are allowed on beaches between 6 PM and 8 AM during Daylight Savings time periods and between 3 PM and 9 AM during Standard time periods, but non-resident dogs are not. It’s easier to sneak around and blend in on those beaches but if you get caught you will likely be fined. First offense is $100, second $200, and up to $500 for your fifth offense. After that you probably would just go to jail. Code enforcement officers are responsible for beach enforcement in South Walton. They drive white trucks.

So, if you can’t take your dog to the beach, what can you do? Eat and drink, of course! And some hiking and some paddling, and more eating and drinking. We spent 10 days roaming the two counties and dug up plenty of food and fun and LOTS of reasons to return.

Okaloosa Co

City of Destin at The Harbor

Obligatory photo op at HarborWalk.

If you’re in Destin, Florida, then you’re in Okaloosa County. No dogs on the beaches there, remember? Instead, take your pooch to HarborWalk Village, a collection of restaurants and shops located on the bay. You can stroll the village walk and the marina, rent a paddle board or kayak, book a dolphin cruise, catch some live music, or enjoy a cocktail at any of several places that welcome dogs. According to their website, they also have weekly fireworks and Fat Tuesday parades so be sure to check the schedule and NOT have your dog there for that. Except for Mardi Paws on February 13th. You can check out their event page on the Book of Face.

HarborWalk was where we had planned to spend New Year’s Eve but after a day visit to check it out and chatting with some of the employees, we decided dogs didn’t want to do that. It is very family friendly and though it wasn’t crowded on the two days we went, you can easily see how a night like NYE with live music, vacation brained adults, low-flying unsupervised kids, and fireworks might not be a joy for an 11 year-old dog (or his 40-something single mom).

Even though we chose not to spend NYE there (we stayed in because it was so cold), we did find a few restaurants worth mentioning, and on a second trip we discovered an unoccupied pier where we chased off a pelican and took up residence in hopes of a dolphin sighting.

Doggie Dining Available at Harry T's

Harry T’s Welcomes Dogs

Harry T’s Lighthouse, with a dog water and snack bowl located near their outdoor menu and snacks at the host stand, was the first place we found and the most dog-welcoming. There is no back way to the dog-friendly patio but the host will escort you through the restaurant to your seat. Our waiter immediately greeted us with a menu and a water bowl and then asked if Henri would like a treat. Yes. Yes, he would. And I would like to have all the bourbon! Though my parents are the ones who told me about this place, my Dad failed to mention the awesome bourbon selection.

The menu at Harry T’s is pretty standard beach American fare with brunch on Saturday and Sunday, but the reason you go is the view. The patio is the perfect place to watch the tour boats coming back to the marina at sunset. It’s also covered, heated, and zippered plastic ‘windows’ protect you from the wind. Destin isn’t always warm in December.

 

Dog in her cheerleader dress

Sanza was ready for a win. Hail State!

AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar was our next restaurant discovery at HarborWalk. The view isn’t as great but they have a HUGE outdoor TV and multiple TVs behind the outdoor bar. It would have been perfect for watching the Razorback’s SEC basketball opener. I even called to make sure that the parts of the patio with the TVs were dog-friendly and to ask if they’d be willing to change at least one of the small TVs for me to watch the game. I didn’t ask if they had the SEC Network. They don’t. Oh well.

It just so happened to be one of the few warmish days we got while in Florida so I was perfectly content to sit in the sun, eat oysters and drink a bloody mary while watching Mississippi State in their bowl game. And we made LOTS of friends!

Even though they didn’t offer to bring us a water bowl (BYOB), it was by far the one place we went where we saw the most dogs. I’m sure the weather was a factor in that- vacationers don’t always bring their dogs and the natives were staying home because it was only 64 degrees- but when the sun did come out, so did the dog people.

After lunch, I grabbed a beer to go- YES, TO GO- and we wandered down to the marina walkway to check out the boats. In case this is your first time reading this blog, you should know I am obsessed with the naming of boats and although I don’t have a boat, I do have a name. We landed at the end of an empty pier where we sat and stared at the water hoping for dolphins, waiting for pirates, and finishing my beer.

Paw print napkin at Boshamp's

Tasty gumbo. Adorable napkin.

The last place in Destin we need to highlight -for now- is Boshamp’s. The restaurant’s name was imagined by the owner’s sister and combines the names of his three labs, BoBo, Otis, and Shug, and his initials, M.P. to get “Boshamp’s.” Another harbor-side spot with an incredible view, Boshamp’s boasts four decks that tier down to a sandy beach with chairs, hammocks, and games. This place is definitely on our ‘return when it’s warmer’ list, especially if they allow dogs on the lower decks and in the sand. Unfortunately, the day we went for lunch it was cold and misting rain, though a dolphin sighting made up for that.

My gumbo was served on a napkin with a paw print punch-out and according to their website, their oysters come from Apalachicola. This is yet another reason to return to Boshamp’s. It’ll tide me over on that three-hour drive from Destin to Apalach to eat more oysters.

On second thought, maybe we’ll just go back to the Forgotten Coast. I know a few good places to eat and they allow dogs on the beaches.

Walton Co

South Walton, SoWal, 30A- it’s all in Walton County and just a hop, skip and a jump from Destin. This is the stretch that includes Santa Rosa, Seaside, Seagrove, Watercolor, Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach and Grayton Beach; I may have missed a few. We checked out some of that during our stay but when we arrived at my parents and needed to see the ocean immediatelyPompano Joe’s in Miramar Beach, just five minutes from the house, was where we went.

Their address says Destin, FL but they are geographically located in Miramar Beach in Walton County. I make note of this because it’s important to know what county you’re in and how much that beach fine might cost you.

Pompano Joe's Back Deck

Just another day on the back deck at Pompano Joe’s.

If you follow us on Facebook one of the first photos you saw posted was taken at Pompano Joe’s. Their back deck faces the gulf and their bottom deck is right on the sand. The downstairs bar isn’t open this time of year and there is no deck/table service, but it’s easy enough to put your pooch in a sit/stay and walk to the indoor bar to order a drink. I could see Henri from the bar while I ordered and we never lost eye contact.

I didn’t eat at Pompano Joe’s during my ten-day stay but we drank there several times and maybe walked on the beach. I don’t know if it would be my favorite place during regular summer season but whoever put that Christmas tree in the sand made it hands down my favorite place during this trip.

I had more fun sitting in my chair, meeting and chatting with new people, and taking family photos for folks in front of that tree than I had anywhere in Destin.

We went there several times during our stay and I NEVER got tired of looking at it. Ever. I have a hundred pictures of that tree and I want a job there next year. Henri and I will just hang out, greet guests, and take Christmas pictures.

The other Miramar spot we visited was Kenny D’s. They serve Cajun style food, and with beads hanging from just about every available spot, it has that N’awlins vibe. You can’t see the water from their dog-friendly patio but the Oyster Chowder is worth a stop and my brother will tell you to add a side of their signature sauce to anything. You should also visit their website and click on “Where’Yat?” Whether you’re from up north and need a translation, or the Ninth Ward and need a giggle, you’ll enjoy it. At the very least you’ll learn whether you want to order your Po’ Boy “dressed” or “nuttinonit.”

Santa Rosa

The Bay restaurant in Santa Rosa

Outside at The Bay in Santa Rosa.

I stumbled upon our next discovery via a Facebook event that popped up in my feed. I get a little weirded out sometimes by how Facebook knows but in this case it worked to our advantage. The Bay is located just off 30A on the Choctawhatchee Bay. If it’s dark and you miss your turn into the parking lot, you’ll have to go all the way across the 3 mile bay bridge before you can turn around. I’m really not sure how that happened.

On Wednesday evenings, The Bay has Wednesday Night Bonfire at the Beach off their back deck, and it is dog and family friendly. Except the night we chose to go it was too windy for a bonfire and the deck was all zippered up to keep out the wind and keep in the warmth.

I didn’t know when we pulled up that there was no bonfire that night. I’d called before going but apparently between my call and our arrival, they determined it was too dangerous. I poked my head through the front door to inquire. The hostess told us there was a back door that we could go through to get to the temporarily enclosed back deck. I couldn’t find it. So when we went back to the hostess stand to ask again, she sent a server out back to meet us.

Since it was just the two of us, we saddled up to the end of the bar. It was the perfect spot. Henri could lounge beneath my bar stool out of the walkway and I could see the band. There was a very well-behaved Boxer named Roscoe at the other end; he’s a regular.

If we lived in the area, we’d be regulars at The Bay too!

I ordered a glass of wine and chatted with the bartender about the menu, settling on the Point Washington Rolls – spring rolls filled with alligator tasso and poblano sounded like something I needed to try. The atmosphere was lively but not loud and the band was a great temptation to linger. I wish I could recall their name. I met one of the member’s wives and her Dad and chatted about rosés and dogs but I can’t remember the name of the band. It’s that kind of place. Laid back and friendly. Oh! And all the kids seemed well-behaved. Not one of them tried to pet Henri without asking.

Grayton Beach

Grayton Beach has been on my radar for quite some time for no other reason except their un-official town motto:

Nice dogs, friendly folks.

Nice Dogs, Friendly Folks

At the corner of Hotz Ave. & Garfield St.

After being in cold, cloudy Florida for several days, I was thrilled to finally get high 50s and sunny. We headed straight to Grayton Beach State Park to investigate the dune lake. It had been my plan for us to paddle this salt marsh ecosystem but I’m a sissy and the only thing worse than being cold is being wet and cold. We settled for a hike through a coastal forest where Oak and Magnolia are bent by salty winds. It wasn’t really a settle.

Cost of admission for Henri and I was a whopping $4.00. It’s a drive-thru entrance/pay station and they have dog treats. The ranger handed me a map, pointed out where dogs were and were not allowed, reminded us to stay off the protected dunes, and wished us a good day.

Since dogs aren’t allowed on the beach at the state park, not even resident ones and not even on the boardwalk leading to the beach, we stuck to the trail along Western Lake. An arching Live Oak, more reminiscent of Middle-Earth than Florida, beckons you to enter and just on the other side of that magical doorway an interpretive nature trail begins with this prayer…

Prayer of the Woods, Grayton Beach State Park

Grayton Beach State Park Western Lake trail

Visitors can choose either: a 1 mile trail that takes you through the dune ecosystem, along the salt marsh, and circles back through the pine flat woods OR a 4.5 mile (9 miles round trip) trail that takes you around the back waters of Western Lake. We took the short trail but spent over an hour meandering. There was lots of sniffing to be done.

I walked much of the trail in bare feet. It’s just sand and marsh and a little mud never hurt anybody. It is worth noting that you should check your pup’s feet for stickers after this hike though. It seems I was pulling them out of Henri’s paws pretty much all week, even after a simple stroll through our neighborhood. What is up with coastal regions and stickers?! We had the same problem in Biloxi!

Gulfside view at Grayton Beach State Park

Gorgeous view of the gulf from the dunes of Grayton Beach State Park.

At one point on the trail we discovered a small passage that seemed well-worn. Following it up the sandy incline and through the barely-big-enough hole made by bent trees and shrub, we found ourselves on the dunes staring at the gulf. Signs and temporary fencing block much of the access to the dune area that separates the lake from the beach, and even though I saw neither of those, I was fairly certain we weren’t supposed to be there. We cautiously made our way to the peak and not wanting to track up the area more than necessary, we sat down to take in the stunning view and listen to the ocean sounds.

If you’ve never been perched atop a sand dune between a lake and an ocean, surrounded by a variety of ecosystems, I highly recommend it.

By noon we were making our way back to the car and dusting off our feet for the next adventure. It was on to Chiringo for lunch, then a scavenger hunt to find the Dogs of Grayton mural.

Dogs of Grayton Beach mural

Dogs of Grayton features resident dogs of Grayton Beach.

Nestled between the planned communities of neatly stacked condos and manicured medians is the small town of Grayton Beach. It’s so small, in fact, that every resident dog of the community can be found on the Dogs of Grayton mural located at Mystic Porte & The Shops of Grayton. We were pointed in the right direction by a gentleman named Billy. His dog, Tip, is on the mural and Billy explained that the dogs with halos had passed over to the Bridge. We counted 174 dogs total. I’m not sure how this began or who maintains it but you can rest assure that I’m going to make finding out a priority!

The narrow roads of Grayton are shaded by moss-draped Oaks and Southern Magnolias. Worn picket fences surround bungalow houses and as best I can tell the main road is Hotz Ave. It should be one-way but it’s not. Or maybe I just don’t know. No matter. No one seemed particularly distressed about which direction I was going. It might be the salt air or perhaps it was the music box tune of the ice cream truck playing in the distance, but everyone is just a little more relaxed here.

We drove down Hotz the first time at noon but the street was crowded, parking was nonexistent and Chiringo was packed. That’s when we decided to detour a bit. First we went to find the mural then I decided to drive 30A to Seaside to checkout the Seaside Square and the food truck situation. BIG mistake! Motor vehicle traffic was bumper to bumper and very slow moving. I saw an entire parking lot full of bicycles and there were people everywhere. Every food truck I could see had a line. I took 395 out of Seaside, back to 98, and looped back to the slower side of life.

Ahhh Chiringo! What more I could ask? I missed out on the lunch special but I’d also missed the crowd. What was left were a dozen or so patrons and a couple of dogs.

Balkie, the Golden Retriever

Balkie was visiting from St. Louis

Relaxing on the patio at Chiringo

Relaxing after our hike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A dog-friendly bar in a quirky little beach town with Fleetwood Mac coming out of the speakers and a bourbon coke icee machine behind the bar is exactly my kind of place. I plopped myself down into a plastic Adirondack and pondered if I would ever leave. Stalling as best I could, I ordered the Lump Crab and Avocado Toast. Then I decided to have another Icee. I talked to some people and pet some dogs, andchanged chairs twice before running out of sun. Sigh. It was time to go.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t just time to leave Grayton, it was time to return home. We’ll be making another trip to the area in the near and warmer future to check out some things we missed- like paddling the dune lakes- and return to a few of our favorites. In the meantime, follow our adventures on Instagram and like us on Facebook to stay up to date on where we’re going next.

Happy Tails, y’all!

SIDE NOTE: While visiting the Destin/ 30A area many people choose to rent bicycles for their exploring. Rentals can be anywhere from $20-$50 a day depending on the bike you choose. If you’d like to have a bike during your stay then please consider BUYING one from St. Andrew’s By the Sea Episcopal Church in Destin.

St. Andrew’s bicycle ministry gives donated bikes to individuals who have no other transportation but need to get to jobs or appointments. Volunteers keep donated bikes in good repair and ready to be provided to those who ask. In order to support this ministry, they also offer bikes for sale. They don’t advertise because it is not their intent to compete with local rental businesses. However, you can buy a bike from them for a ‘suggested donation’ of $35. You’ll have to pick it up yourself but for the same price as a one-day rental you can keep your bike as long as you want and/or donate it back to them at the end of your stay and feel good about yourself.

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Holiday Gift Guide For Dogs On The Go

Beach travel

May all your holiday travels be tails of fun!

Do you travel with your pooch? Need a great gift for someone who does? Then look no further! Our Holiday Gift Guide for Dogs on the Go will help Santa stuff the stockings of your favorite pets and pet people. Check out our picks (and don’t forget the treats)!

HomeAway Travel Organizer Kit from Solvit

If you follow this blog then you’ve already read about this bag. I got one in August just in time for a weekend test drive and I’ve used it ever since. Part purse, part doggie diaper bag, the HomeAway Travel Organizer Kit holds all my daily essentials with plenty of room for Henri’s things when he’ll be joining me. Whether day tripping or heading off for a week-long adventure, this bag is the perfect accessory for any pet parent on the go!

Molly Mutt Car Seat Covers & Beds

The first product I ever remember seeing from Molly Mutt was their stuff sack and duvet cover. The dog trainer in me thought this was genius since leaving an anxious pooch with something that smells like his people- towels, old clothes, sheets- can often alleviate stress and help with separation anxiety. With Molly Mutt, you can make your smelly human things into a fashionable bed for your favorite pooch, and now they’ve added car seat and cargo covers to the line of products you can get in fun fabrics. You can even add a monogram!

Car Safety Harness

The best gift you can give your dog this holiday season is safety on the road! That’s why we like the Deluxe Car Safety Harness, again, from Solvit. No they don’t pay us, but their slogan is “No pet left behind,” so we like that. We tried out their harness in October of 2015 and we’re still using it.

Kiehl’s Spray-N-Play Cleansing Spritz

From the makers of human skin care products comes one of my all-time favorite pet products. Kiehl’s Spray-n-Play Cleansing Spritz is great for dogs with no time for a bath and perfect when your pooch has had a little too much fun. Just spray, massage, then dry. No rinsing required and it smells fantastic! The $13 price tag makes it a bargin so you can afford to buy some for all your dog friends.

GoPro Fetch Dog Harness

This is one we don’t have, but we think it’s really, really cool! The GoPro Fetch Dog Harness is compatible with any GoPro camera for a dog’s eye view of the world. If you already have a GoPro and a dog then this harness will only set you back about forty bucks. Need the GoPro too? So do we! Those start at $150. Put it on the list. I’m sure we’ve all been nice.

Like our ideas? Then SHARE this list with Santa.

 

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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!

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

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