It’s no secret that former President George Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush are dog people, as evidenced by Mrs. Bush’s ghostwriting of her dog Millie’s autobiography. So it only makes sense that the couple lives in the very dog-friendly coastal Maine town of Kennebunkport, where shops, outdoor recreation, and events are designed for the enjoyment of dogs and people alike.
For instance, from May through October, dogs and their human families can join the “Doggy and Me Tour” every other Saturday at 3 pm. Delectables for dogs and local cuisine for their owners are served up all along the walking tour, made that much more enjoyable with the knowledge that all profits from the $34-per-person fee go to the Animal Welfare Society of nearby Kennebunk.
Other local amusements catering to canines include a beach that permits dogs to remain off-leash if under voice control; the dog-friendly Colony Hotel overlooking the Atlantic, where people can bring up to two pets and leave them in their rooms (as well as take them on the porch or patio); the Seashore Trolley Museum that serves up ice cream for your dog and a historical tour for you as you ride the rails; two kayaking businesses that help you bring your dog along in safety and comfort; and a fenced-in dog park with a separate enclosure for smaller dogs.
Aiming to making dogs feel welcome — and happy — appears to be a growing trend. Thirty minutes from downtown San Diego you can head to the Otay Ranch Shopping Center in Chula Vista. Along with 100 stores in an open-air mall setting, most of which allow dogs, it has an off-leash dog park open daily from 6 am to 11 pm and pet-friendly restaurants that permit dogs to sit with owners who are dining outdoors.
Austin, Texas, has 15 — count ‘em — 15 dogs parks. One standout is the Dog House Drinkery and Dog Park in nearby Leander, where visitors can enjoy beer or wine while watching their dogs socialize off-leash in the fenced-in, partially sheltered, and lighted half-acre, with a smaller play area for smaller dogs. Another portion of the 2.5-acre park is used for adoptions, training sessions, and other events. There is a yearly entry fee of $75, but visitors or those looking to try it out can pay $5 per dog.
With 89.7 million dogs estimated to live in United States homes as pets, the number of locales for those seeking dog-friendly travel (and living) destinations is sure to grow.