A dog owners’ bond to his or her pooch is unbreakable. They protect each other, care for each other, and spend time together playing at home and on the town. It’s this love that inspires dog owners to not only want to enjoy life with their best friend but to make sure their dog lives the happiest and fullest life they can.
This summer find new ways to celebrate the special relationship between you and your pooch.
Take your pooch to see America’s national pastime. Enjoy a baseball game with your pup at Bark in the Park with the Durham Bulls on August 2nd; tickets are $7.99 for humans, $5 for canines. Baseball not your thing? NC State’s Veterinary school will host the 25th Annual Dog Olympics September 10th. All proceeds go to help homeless dogs in the area, and the event includes activities such as howling contests, Frisbee Toss and Roll Over Rover.
De–stress and Relax
No, massages aren’t just for humans! Take your pup to a certified dog massage therapist like at Serenity Pet Massage and Companion Chi. Massage can help your dog tackle anxiety, improve mobility and flexibility and reduce pain and tension. Melanie Hampton at Serenity also specializes in Reiki, which she says can boost an animal’s ability to heal post surgery and help aid in pain management. For those wanting to learn to do massage on their own, Susan King of Companion Chi offers private and group workshops to teach techniques, starting at $150 per person.
Do a Doggy Family Tree
Everyone has become obsessed with Ancestry.com’s DNA match letting you find out where you’re from and who you’re related to. Did you know you can do the same thing for your dog? For less than $80 you can buy a take-home kit (Wisdom Panel DNA Test) or schedule a DNA test at your local vet to help your dog be a “mutt” no more. You’ll be able to trace your pooch’s parents, grandparents and great grandparents!
Throw an Ultimate Doggy Birthday Bash
Treat your dog to the ultimate birthday by inviting all his doggy friends (and their owners of course) and hosting at a local dog park or large, fenced-in yard. Head to Woof-Gang Bakery; it has all the party essentials including, Bowser Beer for dogs (yes, that is a thing!), party hats, party favor mini treats, toys and balls for a birthday present and peanut butter cakes that can be personalized in pink or blue for your dog. If you’d prefer to leave the party up to a professional planner, check out Woofinwaggle’s “pawty” packages. For $300, you can get “The Works” including a dozen canine cookies, a puppy paint session, a fitness course activity and formal invitations for all their doggy friends. It will be a day your dog will never forget.
Take a Hike
If your dog loves walks and lounging outdoors take him with you on a hike. Lake Johnson, Jordan Lake, Umstead and Falls Lake all have long, wooded trails to bring your pups, a great way for both you and your dog to enjoy the outdoors. If you’re planning an all day trip, don’t forget to stop by Phydeaux to stock up on hiking essentials like snacks, durable leashes, and rugged terrain doggy shoes. Our favorite hiking treat is Sammy Snacks, organic, simple ingredients that even humans can munch on.
Time to Model
Your mantle wouldn’t be complete without a portrait of your pup! Diane Lewis is a pet photographer in the Triangle that will capture your pet during a private session done at a location of your choice. But if you’re more traditional you can always get your pet’s portrait painted from Cary-based artist Amy’s Creative Corner. The portraits can also be customized into various crafts such as coasters, personalized stationery and pendant necklaces.
Stop by “Yappy Hour”
Both of your can enjoy a treat after work at Raleigh Brewing. Every Monday between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., the brewery features “Pups on the Patio” where fellow furry friends can romp while you sip a cold brew. The pooches are also treated to free biscuits and of course, plenty of water.
Document your summer fun online and create a social media account for your pet. It’s not only a great way to chronicle your own memories but an opportunity to connect with other dog lovers. Just look at @knoxthedox, a Raleigh-based dachshund with over 69,000 followers. So start snapping because nothing makes someone’s day a little brighter than seeing your dog in pajamas.
Join a dog–friendly Club
There are more than 20 meetups in the Triangle for dogs and their owners, and each one has its own distinctive mission. Find one that meets both your needs. The Triangle Dog Hiking and Outdoor Group is a great fit for those looking for walking partners. Pints and Pups is a great way for beer lovers and canines to socialize while several other groups rally around a specific breed—from Pugs to Spaniels, Terriers to Schnauzers.
See a Flick Together
This summer take your furry best friend to a movie at the Raleigh Rose Garden–one of the only outdoor film series that allows well-behaved, leashed dogs to attend. Pack plenty of snacks for both of you and splurge on dessert. Gourmutt’s freshly baked canine treats are made with human grade ingredients. Can’t make it to an outdoor flick? Stay at home and do a doggy movie-athon: Old Yeller, A Dog’s Purpose, Lady and the Tramp, Turner & Hooch, Marley and Me and 101 Dalamtions are on our list.
Go Out for Ice Cream
When it gets hot take a trip to Treat. The family-owned ice cream parlor in City Market offers a scrumptious menu of ice cream flavors made locally in Hillsborough at Maple View Farm. But it also offers a frosted treat for your pooch: You can order a $1 “Doggie Cup” of vanilla ice cream.
Workout with your Pup
No, we’re not talking about a brisk walk around the lake. Woofinwaggle offers a menu of fitness classes you can enjoy with your pet. Check out the 6-legged Boot Camp, a class that offers strength, agility and cardio for dog owners and active conditioning for their pets. While Fitness With Your Fur-Baby is a less intimidating, regularly scheduled option that gets your heart pumping with squats, weights and more.
Can’t take your pooch along? These doggy daycare options will give your dog a well-deserved staycation.
For many pet owners their dogs are like their children; they would do anything to make sure they are happy and well taken care of. So when it comes to finding adequate daycare while you’re away from the Triangle, here are a few to choose from to fit your and your dog’s lifestyle.
Suite Paws Pet Resort and Spa is a doggy day care facility with larger than normal room accommodations for boarding, large indoor/outdoor play yards with doggy playground equipment and an in-ground swimming pool. Their suites come with TVs and webcams to watch your pups; you can choose full days, half days or boarding options. Plus, you can have your pup groomed and pampered before returning home.
Pupventure is a dynamic dog walking duo who travel to your house to give your dogs a little love and care, perfect for older dogs or dogs who enjoy being closer to home. Their minimum package requires two visits a day, which include a walk, a change of water, feeding (if necessary), and of course fun play time. They send you videos and photos of your pets along with a summary of everything they did on their visit.
The K9 Kabana has a shuttle service that picks up and drops off your dogs (if necessary) for an additional $10 each way. Their “Koach” features large, comfortable, air-conditioned, heated and secure kennels. Perfect for the doggy-parent on the go. Every dog receives one-on-one attention during the day.
5 Places to Road Trip with your Pooch
It’s hard to pick a road trip destination that will both relax and entertain. Add Fido and Spot to the mix and it’s almost impossible to imagine that one vacation could satisfy the whole pack. These five travel spots will inspire you to pack your suitcase while perking up your pooch’s ears
Asheville is home to the North Carolina Arboretum, which stretches across 434 acres of land bordering Bent Creek Experimental Forest. Nothing says “Who’s a good boy?” like taking him out for a long hike through gardens and mountaintop views. About fifteen minutes outside the park lies Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar. Nestle into a comfy couch and cradle a glass of beer, wine or shot of espresso while your dog dozes at your feet. Settle your tab — don’t worry, dogs eat and drink for free — and then check into The Black Walnut Bed & Breakfast Inn for the night, where your pup can snooze by the fire until the next day’s doggy adventure.
BALD HEAD ISLAND
Home to the Kent Mitchell Nature Trail and the oldest standing lighthouse in North Carolina, Bald Head Island is a piece of paradise hidden across a dog-friendly ferry ride. Whether you stay in a hotel outside the island or rent one of the many properties on the beach, you’re sure to enjoy the 14 miles of soft sand to warm your wriggling toes and cushion your pup’s paws. Dogs are always allowed on the beach; before sunrise and after sunset, Bald Head Island allows pets off-leash. When it’s too dark to keep playing, head right across the ferry to the Princes of Wales Hotel next door in Southport, where you and up to four fuzzy companions can spend the night. On Bald Head Island, expect a lazy vacation full of belly rubs and beachside bliss.
After a long car ride of head hanging and tongue lolling, your pup deserves some tail-wagging in the Queen City. Charlotte’s cityscapes and rolling mountains beg for your undivided attention. Start your adventure with a drink at the Lucky Dog Bark and Brew and then continue the festivities at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. Less than a 10-minute drive apart, the Charlotte bars are not just dog friendly, but dog loving. The Lucky Dog Bark and Brew is open to 21 and older — with the exception of puppies — and you’ll soon find yourself making conversation with a diverse group of dog owners while your timid Dalmatian sniffs a tiny dachshund. For hiking and water sports, head over to the U.S. National Whitewater Center. While having four legs will cross rafting off the to-do list, your dog can tag along on the trail or be captain of a doggie-paddle-boarding adventure. As first mate, you might need a drink after all the grunt work, so grab a beer at the riverside bar with your pooch. Finish the night at the Zen Retreat (one of the pet friendly rentals on Airbnb), an oasis offering a hot tub and luxury amenities for you and a spacious yard for your pup.
Grab your pooch, suitcase and hiking shoes, and escape the daily grind in style at The Park on Main Hotel in Highlands, NC. Upon arrival, prepare to be greeted by the Scottish Terrier “Mr. Pickles,” the hotel mascot and your pup’s vacation inspiration for your stay. A walk to your room will reveal a MacKenzie-Childs dog bowl and Orvis dog bed, courtesy of the hotel. If you can bring yourself to leave the luxury of your bedroom, venture into town for an unparalleled view of the Southern Appalachian Mountains and stroll the off-leash dog trails. Once you work up an appetite, try the Asian-American cuisine at Wild Thyme Gourmet. Request an outdoor table, and your server can fetch you anything from spicy stir fry to a classic BLT. After a long day and a great feast, end the night with a walk back to the hotel—it’s less than a half mile away.
Charlottesville is a destination guaranteed to create lasting memories for both human and canine tourists. For the more energetic four-legged friend, the Shenandoah National Park boasts over 480 miles of dog-friendly trails against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. After a day of hiking, set up camp at the mountain base with your pooch or spend the evening sipping Chardonnay at Keswick Winery just east of the city. Keswick Winery is a treasure for history, wine and dog lovers. A designated off-leash pasture borders the winery, and with a simple snap of a leash, your dog can accompany you into the tasting room. Catch weekly “Yappy Hours” where proceeds are donated to animal shelters and hopeful puppies up for adoption mingle. Local musicians and food vendors complete the atmosphere, along with bocce ball and croquet courts so that you have as much fun as your pooch.
Jessica Fowler and Deirdre Kronschnabel