No. 1 Bend Oregon
The city of Bend, Ore. — a place where dogs both work and play, ski and swim — claims the DogTown USA title for 2012. Read more>>
No. 2 Bozeman, Mont.
Bozeman is an outdoorsy community with a dog for almost every family. “We know you’re a newcomer if you don’t have a dog in your truck cab,” says Phil Rogers, executive director of the Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter. Dogs join families camping, hiking national forest trails, swimming, duck hunting, and meeting up in the city’s seven dog parks. “After outings, dogs strolling down Main Street can expect a drink of water set out by local shops,” Rogers says.
Winter events in Bozeman feature snow, of course. “Each February (or March), we sponsor the Snowshoe Shuffle, a lighted, dog-friendly snowshoe course in a ski area,” Rogers says. “When snow retreats, owners take their dogs to the city’s very own canine beach.” Warm-weather events include Woofstock, complete with dock diving, agility, and herding, and the newly established K-9 9K race.
Bozeman clearly has its heart in the right place. The Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter has 90 percent of the dogs that go through its doors reclaimed by their owners, adopted, or rescued, and also provides a 15 acre off-leash dog park open to all.
No. 3 Annapolis, Md.
“In Annapolis, all you need to feel at home is a good boat, a good hat, and a good dog,” says Connie Del Signore, president of the Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Conference & Visitors Bureau.
Annapolis extends a welcome to tourists with dogs in tow; many bed and breakfasts, inns, and hotels allow dogs. “Walk down the streets on any spring, summer, or fall evening, and you’ll see a host of dogs dining with owners at outdoor restaurants,” Del Signore adds.
Visitors to Quiet Waters Park walk their dogs along miles of trails, winding through hardwood forests and enjoying vistas. Quiet Waters also features the county’s first dog park, with two large off-leash areas. “Boats, including the Harbor Queen, allow dogs on their cruises, and it’s common to see dogs at the helm of many a boat, dinghy, and kayak at the City Dock,” Del Signore says. “Dog watching is as popular as people watching in America’s sailing capital.”
Paws Pet Boutique, a leading advocate for dogs in Annapolis, sponsors events such as the Crabtowne Canines march in the Fourth of July parade, Canines in the Courtyard on Feel Good Fridays fundraiser series, and Ben’s Cruise for Compassion. “Rescued from a puppy mill, Ben ‘hosts’ the annual benefit that raises funds to help give animals a voice in the legal system,” Del Signore says. Equally passionate about dogs in need, Annapolis re-homes a large number of its shelter’s dogs.
No. 4 Seattle
Home to more dogs than children, Seattle has 11 dog parks within the city, miles of dog-friendly hiking in the Cascade foothills, and indoor dog parks for rainy days. “In Seattle it’s not unusual to see dogs in the local hardware store shopping with their companions,” says Sally Clark, city council president. “One of our largest businesses, Amazon.com, has dog-friendly offices, and retailer REI runs a dog ‘barn’ at their home office.”
Events such as the Furry 5K Fun Run and Walk and the Dog-O-Ween festivities keep both owners and dogs exercised and entertained. Happy dogs even come to happy hour at Norm’s Eatery & Alehouse.
Seattle takes pride in caring for its dogs, too. More than 85 percent of the city’s dogs are voluntarily spayed or neutered, and the shelter euthanizes only about 11 percent of the dogs that come in each year.
No. 5 Alexandria, Va.
Along the shores of the Potomac River, Alexandria offers dogs a metropolitan paradise. Dogs and their families can play in the 18 dog parks and exercise areas, hike the miles of dog-friendly paths, or stroll Old Town’s historic neighborhoods, once walked by George Washington.
Alexandria has 14 dog-friendly hotels, including Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco Alexandria, with its renowned Doggie Yappy Hour and “Director of Pet Relations,” Charlie the Bichon Frise. “Humans enjoy appetizers and drinks, while dogs chow on biscuits and water,” says Patrick Cole, director of communications and outreach at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.
Residents and tourists alike cruise the Potomac with their dogs. Potomac Riverboat Co.’s Canine Cruises give two-legged and four-legged passengers a tour of the seaport.
The city estimates that 85 percent of its dogs are spayed and neutered. Community functions also help out canines. “Events such as Olde Towne Dogge Walke raise funds to support the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, as well as celebrate the city’s widespread love of dogs,” Cole says.
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