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A Look: Most 'Dog Friendly' Cities

To many of us, pets are family — only furrier and slimier. It’s only natural, then, to seek out the places where these relatives of ours can enjoy the best quality of life. According to an American Pet Products Association survey, a record 65 percent, or 79.7 million, American households today own a pet.

And at one point, pet owners had access to only a handful of businesses that offered animal services and supplies. Big industry names such as Petco and PetSmart were the most familiar. But numerous new pet businesses, especially microenterprises, have cropped up in our neighborhoods to fill the demand of this growing “breed” of consumers. Today, we spoil our pets in all kinds of ways, from gourmet pet food to luxury-hotel accommodations to pet donut shops to — get this — pet “dating” services.

Some cities go out of their way to "look out" for our dogs and pets, so I think they deserve a mention.

Carmel-by-the-Sea has long earned its reputation as one of the most dog loving towns in America. There’s good reason, too, as inns, shops and restaurants are famous for rolling out the red carpet for their four-legged visitors, making them feel as special on the road as their owners do at home. On three separate occasions over the year, Carmel Beach will literally be going to the dogs … at least for three breeds in particular: the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Dachshund and Poodle. Especially the Poodles. Each September, it's Poodle paradise in Carmel on the fourth Saturday in September, an annual event to celebrate the popular breed. Trademarked as Poodle Day, the festivities will include a morning parade in the Carmel Crossroads shopping center, beach play in the afternoon, and cocktail parties in the evening at downtown dog-friendly restaurants (The Cypress Inn, Il Fornaio, Anton & Michel, Bistro Beaujolais, and Treehouse Cafe). More information is available by visiting

Austin, TX

Check out the Pampered Pet Program at Austin’s Driskill Hotel, as it provides cats and dogs with fancy beds, designer food bowls, souvenir toys and more. Recognized as one of the nation's most pet-friendly hotels, the Legendary Driskill welcomes you and your four-legged friends to experience true Texas hospitality. The Driskill's Pampered Pet Program includes: Custom Driskill Pet Bed Designer Dishes and Mat Bottled Spring Water Gourmet Pet Treats from 1886 Café & Bakery Supply of Driskill Doggie Business Bags Map of Austin with designated pet-friendly areas. Austin even offers a chance for your to canoe or kayak with your dog or even take a dog yoga class at Austin Doga.

Everyone loves pets in North Carolina, even the state's lawmakers. The state recently passed a law that allows restaurants to host cats and dogs in their outdoor areas. Relax and sample the local suds of Beer City USA on the big patio of Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company. Or show Fido the fancy life at the gardens of Biltmore, the estate built by George Vanderbilt in the late 1800s. But the best thing to do with your pets here is enjoy nature. Follow the pack, then, and make for the trails of Pisgah National Forest, or Rock State Park, both of which allow leashed dogs on most trails. Or stay in town and stroll the historical Urban Trail.

Seattle and especially the University of Washington

The University of Washington's athletic teams are the Huskies and you can own a Husky or any dog at UW.

The University of Washington has dedicated four apartment buildings to students in family housing who wish to be pet owners, three of which are aquatic pet only approved. These apartment buildings allow student pet owners easy access to the highly acclaimed school that is also one of the oldest on the west coast of the country. The Seattle campus is situated quite prettily between water and mountains with vast open spaces lined with trees. One of its pet projects is green living and sustainability. Research is the university's primary purpose, and over $1 billion is budgeted toward that end. What a wonderful atmosphere for like-minded people to connect with each other and with other pets.

Key West, FL.

Not only do most accommodations and outdoor restaurants welcome pets here, but nearly everyone seems to have a furry friend. “There is a breed of dog indigenous to Key West,” said Carol Shaughnessy, a 30-year resident and multiple pet owner who helps tourists. “We have basket hounds.” Rent 2 wheels with a basket or a trailer at Re-Cycle, then hit the Coconut Retriever cart for locally crafted, brightly printed leashes, collars and even dresses. Dogs are also welcome aboard the kayaks and paddleboards at Lazy Dog and at the dog beach next to Louie’s Backyard restaurant, which, along with the Higgs Beach Dog Park, is a great pet hang out.

If you are looking for a great resource on traveling with your pet, a friend of mine publishes a magazine and runs a website on this subject. Check out

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