SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY
Saratoga Springs may be notorious for race horses, but Mayor Johnson wouldn’t mind if it were notorious for dogs too. Thanks to Melanie Dallas of Sloppy Kisses, Adrianna Flax of the Saratoga Arts Council, and more than 30 businesses and sponsors that made Saratoga’s Dog-Friendly Downtown kick-off possible, that may now ring true.
THE WAY IT WORKS
The blue sticker pictured here, when displayed on participating storefronts, acts as an invitation to walk in with your dog, year round and no questions asked. While small shops may have size restrictions and restaurants may allow patio seating only, you’ll always be in the know. Just visit the Dog-Friendly Downtown website for an interactive map listing all participating businesses and their possible limitations.
For more about the people behind Saratoga’s Dog-Friendly Downtown initiative as well as the history and growth, watch Malanie Dallas’ interview on Saratoga.com. This model would be an exceptional start for any city.
MY DOG-FREINDLY EXPERIENCE
There is no doubt that Saratoga is dog-friendly and people-friendly. The moment I parked my car and Shamus, the Newf, hopped out, we met Terry, a local woman who invited us on a cookie mission. In fact, Terry ended her cell conversation saying “I have to go. My dogs want to meet somebody” (that somebody being my dog) and off to Dawgdom we went.
Dawgdom – Where Dogs Rule – is a hip and trendy shop where Shamus got free cookies, I bought a lime-green leash with an extra handle near the collar (which I love), and we met the sweetest foster puppy, a rottie/coonhound mix being cared for by Sarah, Dawgdom’s owner.
I love Sarah’s approach, holding dog adoption clinics and supporting homeless animals in a myriad of ways. See her website for all the good she does and connects with. (She also scores points for the beautiful Newf portrait on the wall.) While Dawgdom isn’t officially part of the Dog-Friendly Downtown initiative, this shop is certainly dog friendly.
DOG-FRIENDLY DOWNTOWN’S HUB
Next, I was off to Sloppy Kisses, a treat boutique for dogs and the central hub of the day’s activities. Sloppy Kisses is a fun-loving family business featuring gourmet dog treats, clothing, and so much more. The love between their clientelle and their family is immediately evident. The walls and ceiling are covered with photos of their many valued dog customers.
Melanie took the time to say hello while bustling about. Then Shamus and I were warmly welcomed by the entire family while he was plied with affection by Melanie’s daughters and more delicious cookies. We also met Adrianna Flax there with her dog Bentley. Bentley is a bit smaller than Shamus – by about 90 pounds – but he obviously has an enormous personality. Kudos to Melanie and Adrianna for their hard work changing perceptions towards the public inclusion of dogs.
Curbside, I met with the fine folks from GoPetFriendly.com. Amy and Rod Burkert travel the US in their GoPetFriendly Winnebago, searching out pet-friendly places with with their rescue dogs Ty and Buster. If you ever want to vacation with your dogs, check their free website first. They list everything from pet-friendly hotels and campsites, to wine shops, beaches and more. Their Road Trip Planner is an invaluable tool for glitch-free travel with your best fur-friends.
(Thanks to Rod for the photo of Shamus and me above. For more pictures from the day, read his post, “Saratoga Springs for Dog Friendly Businesses“.)
Rod spent the afternoon with the GoPetFriendly dogs, fequenting shoe stores, clothing boutiques, and other local business to acquire answers to scavenger hunt questions. Some stores went so far as to offer special sale prices to those who brought their dogs. While Rod was off working hard, Shamus shmoozed with Amy hoping to get his face on the side of her Winnebago.
A rockin’ Yappy Hour took place at The Putnam Den where Mayor Johnson, his wife and their recently adopted dog Chase mingled with other dog lovers. Prizes donated by participating shops were awarded to scavenger hunt competitors. By this point, many of the dogs and owners had already met so we were all like “Snacks? Drinks? This party is ON!”
If you live in the area, don’t forget to frequent the shops that made this day possible. They weren’t just dog-friendly for this event. They’re dog friendly all year round.
Quick Reminder: Enter our Adventure Pet Photo Contest for a chance to win a Kakadu Pet Adventure Mat! See ThisOneWildLife.com for details!