Happy Places to Live and Travel Together
As of last year, 90 million dogs lived in American homes. Including cats, birds, fish, small animals and reptiles, the grand total is 393 million, reports the American Pet Products Association. Pets are considered family members by 95 percent of their people. Accordingly, pets are a key consideration in choosing a friendly place to live or visit.
The personal finance website WalletHub analyzed the most pet-friendly U.S. cities encompassing criteria inclusive of access to veterinarians and cost, pet insurance rates, pet-friendly restaurants, pet-centric businesses, dog parks and animal shelters. SmartAsset, a personal finance technology company, ranked cities by dog parks, pet-friendly restaurants and stores, walkability, weather and housing costs. Unsurprisingly, many high picks are in warmer climates.
What to Seek
“First, look for pet-friendly landlords. Space to play, socialize and exercise animals is next on my list, followed by breweries and restaurants that allow dogs on their patios,” says Alexandra Bassett, a professional dog trainer and owner of Dog Savvy Los Angeles. “I hike off-leash in Runyon Canyon and we visit the Pawbar at Pussy & Pooch, a pet lifestyle boutique, to mingle and sample treats. Food is the fastest way to make a dog comfortable in just about any setting.”
Irvine and Carlsbad, California, and Portland, Maine, are among the first cities to ban use of toxic pesticides in public areas and homes, following pressure from local groups. Being closer to the ground and smaller in size, pets suffer adverse reactions faster than humans. Contact local environmental groups to help ban harmful insecticides and herbicides in public areas.
In Pasco County, Florida, Epperson Community homes exemplify eco- and pet-friendly planning, with open spaces and solar power-lit trails for jogging and walking. Birdhouses throughout the property welcome wild feathered friends. A centerpiece lagoon enhances scenic walks and uses less water and energy than a traditional pool or golf course. Separate paths allocated for bikes and driverless cars keep dog walkers safe.
Colony Cove, in Ellenton, Florida, is a 55-plus retirement community that allows multiple pets, including some breeds banned elsewhere. It maintains a large dog park, and at summer’s end, dogs are welcome to take a dip in the pool. Further, the association offers mobile groomers, photos with Santa and costume contests.
All species are welcome at Rose Villa Senior Living, in Portland, Oregon, where residents’ request for an off-leash dog park play area was granted. One resident owns two dogs, two cats and an African gray parrot.
The largest-ever Canadian residential project to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum certification, Calgary’s University District, embraces
ecological conservation, habitat restoration and long-term conservation management principles. Designed for residents to age in place with their families, recreational fitness amenities include on- and off-leash dog parks, a pet-friendly activity space and paths leading to parks.
Sara Nick, chief content officer at Sidewalk Dog Media, in Minneapolis, suggests experiencing unique adventures. Dog paddling takes on new meaning via stand-up paddleboarding with a pooch at Minnesota’s Split Rock Lighthouse and Tettegouche state parks. Whatever the weather, equine-friendly pups can ride along in a horse-drawn carriage from Doubletree Carriage Company, in Spring Valley. Dogs are welcome to watch or snooze through film showings at the Long Drive-In, in Long Prairie.
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Birgit and Jim Walker, authors of Keep Your Paws on the Road: A Practical Guide to Traveling with Dogs, travel by RV in summer with their three dogs to favorite stops like Tombstone, Arizona. “Some tourist areas don’t welcome dogs, but in Tombstone, dogs can go for stagecoach rides and down into a mine with you,” she says.
Kim Salerno, president and founder of TripsWithPets.com, in Wake Forest, North Carolina, recommends Kimpton or Aloft hotels. “Kimpton accepts any pet, any size, weight, breed or species. Amenities include a bed, treats, a water bowl and toys with no additional pet fee,” she says.
Salerno continues, “In Asheville, dogs are allowed on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate. The Ernest Hemingway House, in Key West, Florida, allows small, cat-friendly dogs. Boutiques, feed stores, wineries and art galleries may say yes to pets. Ask first and make sure your pet is well-behaved.”
Whether at home or traveling, families can enjoy many opportunities to share new experiences with pets. Just be sure they mind their manners to have a good time.
Connect with freelance writer Sandra Murphy at StLouisFreelanceWriter@mindspring.com.
Top 10 Cities for Dogs
- San Francisco—dog parks, walkability and friendly restaurants
- Albuquerque—only 28 rainy days a year, plus affordable housing
- Tucson—50 welcoming restaurants and sunny weather
- San Diego—200 restaurants, plus a dogs-welcome beach
- Denver—posted solid scores in all categories
- Las Vegas—dog parks favored by dry, sunny weather
- New York City—high on walkability, especially in good weather
- Sacramento—affordable housing and lots of green space
- Phoenix—friendly restaurants and shops, plus sunny days
- Chicago—great walking; bundle up against lake breezes
Top 10 list by SmartAsset.com. Find a different, 100 best list at Wallethub.com/edu/most-pet-friendly-cities/5562.