A Dog’s First Vacation

Education / Featured Sliders / Stories / Travel / May 14, 2019

Places to go and things to know

Story by Samantha Pogue 

Say the word “ride” and my dog Albert is by his leash at the front door, ready to hit the road.

It doesn’t matter where we are going. It’s usually somewhere close like a quick trip to the store, picking up my niece from track practice or out to a nearby park for a long walk.

We adopted him from the local shelter about a week before Christmas, and Albert is still a young boy, about a 1 ó years old. As an important member of our family, my husband and I are excited to take him on his first family vacation this summer.

Usually incorporating a float trip and fishing into most of our summertime fun, we decided to go to one of the great state parks and waterways in Missouri where the whole family can enjoy swimming, river time and hiking down some scenic trails.

While researching places on the internet, my searches expanded as my keywords included “best dog vacation spots,” “dog-related events” and “tips for traveling with your pet.” A plethora of locations, activities and advice flooded in, creating a long list of future vacation hotspots, things to do while visiting and words of wisdom for taking our furry family member on a road trip.

It only seemed fitting to share my finds with fellow dog lovers and owners looking for pet-friendly summer vacations with their prime pooch.

Cabins for Canines and more at MO state parks

One of the places we discussed was a long weekend at Johnson Shut-Ins State Park. My husband hasn’t

been there since he was child growing up in Salem, Missouri, and it would be a brand new experience for the rest of our family.

Lots of those activities like floating on the Black River, swimming and splashing in the natural falls, and enjoying the hiking trails and views from the boardwalk and overlooks were appealing. But could Albert stay there with us?

Thankfully I discovered the Missouri State Parks offers the Cabins for Canines program, in which Johnson Shut-Ins State Park is one of five state-owned facilities and more than a handle of concession-operated state parks that offers it. According to the Missouri State Parks website, state parks that provide Cabins for Canines have lodging units to people who want to travel and vacation with their dogs. The program includes units such as Outpost cabins, camper cabins, yurts, singe-unit cabins, fourplexes and duplexes.

 About 30 percent of those lodging units are available for owners with dogs while the remaining units are canine free, the website said. Two dogs are allowed per unit, regardless of size, and there is a small fee per dog, per night collected at check in, which varies depending on the type of lodging unit chosen, according to MoStateParks.com. An additional fee will be assessed when extra cleaning is required, and if a dog is left unattended, park staff asks they be placed in a crate or kennel. As a bonus, they will provide a crate or kennel free of charge as a courtesy to guests.

Also remember, dogs are not allowed inside any state park or historic building or in public swimming areas and beaches, keep him or her on a leash (no longer than 10 feet) at all times and make sure to clean up the pet’s waste.

Big Lake, Lake of the Ozarks, Pomme de Terre, Sam A. Baker, Bennett Spring, Lake Wappapello, Meramec, Montauk, Roaring River, Stockton, Thousand Hills and Washington state parks all offer the Cabins for Canines program. For more information, visit mostateparks.com.

Even though Weston Bend State Park north of Kansas City does not offer the Cabins for Canines program, they welcome dogs to hike their scenic trails and enjoy the beautiful overlook with views of the Missouri River and campground. This state park has one bonus amenity, a dog park. Within this 1.75-acre enclosed space, dogs can run within in two large pens designated for small dogs and large dogs. Each pen has a park bench, a doggie water fountain and a pet waste station.

KC is K-9-friendly, and so is the Midwest

A weekend trip to Weston Bend could turn into a fun pet-friendly summer vacation in Kansas City, as the City of Fountains’ assortment of parks, public spaces and hotels provide many dog-friendly opportunities for four-legged friends.

The city is filled with attractions like Worlds of Fun and the Kansas City Zoo, amazing sports teams to cheer for like the Royals and Chiefs, beautiful historic landmarks, fountains and museums, and multiple award-winning barbecue hotspots.

Yet, this doesn’t mean dog owners have to always leave their pet behind. The Kanas City Convention and Visitor Bureau offers come great ideas. Albert loves long walks, so the CVB’s suggestion of taking the Trolley Trail through Brookside and Waldo in the city sounds like a top activity for us. According to the CVB’s website, this trail is a winding, gravel-strewed track that regularly attracts “active local form all walks of life – pets included.”

Just south of the Country Club Plaza, Penn Valley Park and Swope Park both have an off-leash dog parks, and Swope houses the iconic Scout sculpture. Jackson County’s Longview Lake Park also offers fishing, camping and more.

The Kansas City CVB also suggests to visit many of the city’s “exceptional” dog parks, which are scattered throughout the metropolitan area, including West Terrace Park downtown and Waggin’ Trail off Leash Dog Park in north Kansas City.

The lawn of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, a free-to-visit institution of thousands of works dating back 5,000-plus years, is also a nice retreat with your pooch for a picnic, a trip through the walk-through maze or seeing the larger-than-life Shuttlecocks, the CVB’s website said.

I love to explore antique shops and fun little boutiques, and the West Bottoms would be a place where we could all shop, including Albert. The Kansas City CVB said there are so many unique antique shops and other area gems here, all of which are dog-friendly.

Plus, we would have to stop in one special spot that would cater to each one of my family members’ likes. The Bar K Dog Bar serves as a restaurant (my niece’s love for food), coffeehouse (my addiction to caffeine), bar (my husband loves to relax with a cold beverage) and a dog park (hello Albert!). Located on the shore of the Missouri River in the Berkley Riverfront Park, Bark K Dog Bar is certainly one-of-a-kind.

Patrons need not worry with trained dog-care professionals on site to help keep an eye on your pooch and make sure everyone is having fun. There is a large patio and roof deck to enjoy a meal of gourmet food with a leashed dog, as well as a beer garden, outdoor bar and stage for concerts and events. There is also a two-acre off-leash dog park with separate play areas for large and small dogs, and interactive dog recreational equipment. And get this – they have a Puppies’ Pub, which is a dedicated play area for 3- to 9-month-old puppies. My heart is melting!

For more information and ideas, visit www.visitkc.com. Chicago is also known as one of the Midwest’s most dog-friendly towns, and Indianapolis has a dog-friendly neighborhood in Broad Ripple, where there are multiple dog-friendly eateries and parks.

Branson ranks high in canine welcomes at multiple lodging and rental facilities, eateries, state parks and dog parks. Plus if camping is your jam, Camp Dogwood at both Ingleside, Illinois and Lake Delton, Wisconsin, offers an all-inclusive vacation camp for dogs and their owners. This is a relaxing, fun place for dogs to learn herding or tracking, humans to make doggie treats and the whole family to take nature hikes, enjoy puppy yoga or relish in the great outdoors.

Speaking of Wisconsin, Door County is known as the “Cape Cod of the Midwest” and a popular vacation destination. However, small towns on the shores of Lake Michigan not only beckon humans to its historic, charming main streets, but include dog-friendly restaurants and a ferry to Washington Island where most of the beaches are also dog-friendly.

For more information about Midwest pooch-preferred destinations, visit www.bestrvreviews.com.

Paws-ing for pet-friendly events

 Swimming, floating, hiking, camping, fishing, picnicking — they are all top ways for your dog to love a family vacation. Yet, why not investigate unique events you can attend while on your road trip or plan a vacation around an activity the entire family can enjoy?

You don’t have to stray too far from home to enjoy a dog-friendly destination like Lake of the Ozarks. From June 7-9, the waterfront bar and restaurant Dog Days in Osage Beach hosts an event both two-legged and four-legged friends will love.

Hosted by Dock Dogs, the annual Canine Cannonball invites canine athletes to compete in Big Air, Extreme Vertical and Speed Retrieve events at this family friendly festival. Watch both professional and amateur dogs test their skills and can visit with a variety of pet-friendly vendors. For more information about the free-to-attend event, visit https://dockdogs.com/eventscal/dogs-days-canine-cannonball-6.

At the beautiful estate of the Americana Vineyards Winery in Interlaken, New York, there is an event named in honor of one of the world’s most iconic music festivals, Woofstock. From noon-7 p.m. June 8, guests are invited to enjoy live music, children’s games, dog contests and events, live auctions and vendors. Festival food trucks and wine are also available for purchase. Admission is by donation and dog supplies are accepted as well as cash, according to the event’s website, https://woofstockflx.weebly.com.

Summertime events out in California beckon dog owners and their pooches to fun times on the water or inland.

From noon-4 p.m. on June 23 at Pan Pacific Park in Los Angeles, California, the K9 Summerfest 2019 will take place, raising awareness and funds for K9 that is an organization that connects teenagers in continuation high schools with shelter dogs. The festival offers visitors and their pets multiple activities, including a doggie obstacle course, face painting, yoga classes and dog massages. Food trucks and vendors will sell goods for both dogs and humans. For more information, https://www.eventbrite.com/e/k9-summer-fest-2019-tickets-tickets-57852011925.

There are many dog surfing events, but the Imperial Beach Surf Dog Competition, held in late July at Imperial Beach, California, is known as the world’s first. Raising money for the San Diego Humane Society, two separate events take place each year – one at the end of July next to Imperial Beach Pier and another in late September at Huntingon Beach. Dogs can attend and others compete, showing off their surfing skills. A beer garden, food trucks, dog adoptions and vendor booths are also part of this event. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. For more information, visit www.surfdogevents.com.

Prepping for your pooch’s big trip

 One of Albert’s favorite things in the world is his Kong.

We often fill this red rubber toy with natural peanut butter, and it keeps him entertained for hours, especially when he is alone at home.

We know that is on the list of things to take on our first family vacation, along with essentials like his collar, tags and leash, water, food, toys, toothbrush and bed. However, I wondered what else I needed to bring and know before traveling miles away from home with Albert.

I found a wealth of information on the American Kennel Club website. In traveling a short distance to familiar spots in town Albert usually is just chilling in the backseat, looking out the window. But as we want to protect ourselves with a seatbelt, we really need to protect him too, especially if we were in car accident.

The American Kennel Club advises to ensure your dog’s safety while traveling by utilizing a crate or a harness that attaches to a seat belt, both of which are available at most pet stores. They also said to make sure the crate (particularly if used on an airplane), is large enough for the dog to stand, turn and lie down in; is secured to the vehicle; is strong with handles or grips and free of interior protrusions; has a leak-proof bottom covered with plenty of absorbent material; has proper ventilation on opposing sides; and is marked with “LIVE ANIMAL” with the owner’s name, address and phone number.

As we would be traveling by car, the American Kennel Club also highly advises your dog has his favorite toy to make him feel secure. Albert would not only have his Kong, but also his blue monkey.

The organization stated car windows need to provide sufficient ventilation and to not let your dog stick their head out the window as it can lead to eye or ear injuries.

Dogs can also get motion sickness, with the American Kennel Club suggesting to take several short trips in the car before a big journey to get your pooch used to traveling. They also said to feed your dog lightly – about one-third the normal amount – before hitting the road.

When booking your lodging, the American Kennel Club also recommends to always make sure the facility allows dogs because many do not and if they do to keep your canine as quiet as possible to respect the privacy of other guests. They also suggest to crate your dog at night or when it is the room by itself to prevent unwanted messes, escape or property damage.

Other helpful tips the American Kennel Club advises are:

• Make sure your dog has a sturdy leash and collar. The collar should have identification tags, a license and proof of rabies vaccinations. Your home phone number should be on the tags as well.

• You may want to consider a permanent form of ID (such as a microchip or tattoo) that can increase the likelihood of reuniting you with your dog if it gets lost far from home.

• Carry recent pictures of your dog with you. If you are accidentally separated, these pictures will help local authorities find your dog.

• Take the phone number of your veterinarian and any special medication your dog needs. Some dogs can’t adjust to abrupt changes in diet, so pack your dog’s regular food, bowls and a cooler of water.

• If you think you might need to board your dog at some point during your travels, be sure to bring your dog’s complete vaccination records.

For more information about traveling with your furry family member and directories and books for vacation advise and ideas with your pooch, visit www.akc.org. Also check out www.petswelcome.com, www.doggonefun.com and www.bringfido.com.


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Samantha Pogue




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