More Culture:

April 22, 2015

Barking orders: An urban guide to dog-friendly Philly

Lifestyle Pets
Dogs play Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Dogs play at the Schuylkill River Dog Run. February 11, 2015.

Philly is going to the dogs. If you have any doubt, consider that on the first warm days of spring, they tend to outnumber the humans at cafes like Rouge and Parc, and all along al fresco spots on East Passyunk Avenue, and in Northern Liberties and Fishtown. Truth is, Philadelphia is a very dog-friendly city, with parks and places that not only welcome Fido, but also cater to his every need. I should know. My own pampered pooch, a Brussels Griffon named Louise, has been to more haunts in this city than some children I know. Over the years, we’ve figured out where to score the best treats and who serves ice in the complimentary water bowls.  

Think Green

Next to the sofa, Philly’s green spaces are a dog’s paradise. See for yourself in Washington and Rittenhouse squares on a sunny Saturday afternoon. You’ll find man’s best friend on park benches, blankets and the best sunspots in the city. But what pet owners may not know is that in addition to the choice of city parks, including Fairmount, one of the largest urban parks in the country (hello, Lemon Hill), Clark Park in West Philly and Pennypack Park on Bustleton Avenue, leashed dogs are also welcomed at Valley Forge National Historical Park with its 3,500 acres and 30 miles of trails. You may even spot a deer. 

Park It

There are even certain parks designed especially for dogs, like the Schuylkill River Park at 25th and Spruce, featuring synthetic turf known as K9 grass and frost-free water fountains (woof), and Seger Dog Park near 10th and Lombard. At both friendly runs, dogs may enjoy being off leash. Just make sure to check the rules before you visit. Some parks only allowed neutered dogs, while others may ban certain type of dog collars (spikes and choke chains) and require that owners have a limited number of dogs at play at any one time. 

A few other outdoor destinations have become unofficial dog parks, like the Laurel Hill Cemetery on Ridge Avenue, Bartram’s Gardens, Pastorius Park in Chestnut Hill, Willow Grove Pooch Park and the Irish Memorial on Front Street. In the Art Museum neighborhood, there’s even a seating area along Fairmount Avenue that’s come to be known as “Bulldog Park,” named after the bronze sculpture. It’s a great spot to stop after a run along Kelly Drive or on the way to the Fairmount Pet Shoppe

Garden Variety

The city’s pop-up beer gardens have also become popular dog-friendly watering holes. The first PHS pop-up of the season already landed at the Comcast courtyard this month where guests were immersed in more than 13,000 different types of pansies and 74 feet of moss with the chance to kick back with fine furry friends. Thanks to the success of last year’s gardens, the city can expect a few others to open next month, including The Oval at Eakins Circle at the foot of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Surrounded by lots of green space to play fetch and Frisbee, by the time you pour a cold one, your pup will be just as ready for some downtime. 

Drink It Up

Doobies, sadly, may be turning away dogs at its door after customers complained, but Dirty Frank’s is still one of the best bars in the city to kick it with some sweet canine drinking buddies. Regulars know and love the local pooches that parade through this legendary dive bar for some free treats and all the attention they can tolerate from friendly locals. And with great prices on beer, supersized cocktails and the Frank’s Special (a kamikaze shot with a pony side of Miller High-Life), there’s no better afternoon pit stop. I even once spotted a micro pig at the bar. 

If you and your dog are hiking the Wissahickon, you may stumble upon the Valley Green Inn, which hosts a dog-friendly happy hour every third Tuesday of the month to benefit PAWS. Starting at 5 p.m., two and four-legged friends are welcome on the patio at this historic inn. Half of all proceeds raised during the special event are donated to help Philly’s homeless animal population. 

Fresh and Clean 

If your pooch needs a little pampering, Duross & Langel, an independently owned shop on 13th Street, has a few all-natural goods designed specifically for dogs. The City Dog shampoo is not only dye-free and sulfate-free, but it’s also scent-free to make it easy on your pup’s sensitive nose. If a bath is out of the question, the shop also sells Ricky’s Dry Rub made from pulverized lavender buds and lemongrass blended with corn and wheat starch that helps to eliminate doggy odor without using water. There’s also Pet Rescue, a natural balm that soothes and softens pads on paws after a long winter. The best part is there’s nothing here that your pup can’t lick. All the ingredients are safe and natural. 

Care Packages

Need to get away? There are a few spots in Philly that cater to Fido exclusively, like Philadelphia Pet Hotel & Villas, a luxury facility near Philadelphia International Airport that boards dogs and cats with nothing less than doggy suites with queen-size beds, LCD TVs and a daily visit from a vet to ensure animals are happy and healthy. A few other doggy daycare centers, including Barkadelphia in Queen Village and Dog School near Antique Row, keep things cage free for the ultimate free-range experience. Central Bark, a dog daycare center at 25th and Wharton, even hosts full-blown dog parties with “pawty” decorations, cake, the works. 

Need for Speed

The Rescue Run, a 5K that benefits and promotes the adoption of rescue dogs each year, once again is planned for the Navy Yard at the end of summer. Not only can racers run with their dogs, people can meet pups for adoption and get to know how to volunteer and donate to local animal shelters. The proceeds benefit The Monster Milers, a local animal rescue. 

Sleep on It

Quite a few hotels in the City of Brotherly Love also show serious canine love. The Kimpton Hotels, with two locations in Philly – Hotel Palomar and Hotel Monaco – make dogs feel right at home with their own dishes and other luxury pet paraphernalia. The Loews on Market Street is also pet-friendly, as is The Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton and Sofitel. But before you book a room at any of these destinations, call in advance to inquire about each hotel’s pet policy (some limit the size of a dog and others require that owners and their pets are lodged on specific pet-friendly floors). Hotels often require non-refundable pet fees and may ask that a dog is not ever left alone in a room unattended. But with so many opportunities to dine, drink and play with Fido in tow, that shouldn’t be a problem.