I’m a dog person.
For those who know me, that’s a pretty huge understatement.
You’re either a dog person, or you’re not. Me, I’m a dog person. I just love dogs.
I grew up surrounded by them… and cats and rabbits and songbirds, even fish. My mother instilled in me the love of all animals. We were continuously taking in strays. There wasn’t a day that passed in my childhood that I that I didn’t have a dog (or three) exploring the wild outdoors by my side or a night that passed where there wasn’t a dog (or three) taking over my sleeping arrangements.
That passion - some may call it an obsession - has carried over into my adulthood. I don’t have human kids; I have fur kids. My dogs are my children. I currently belong to a rescued, 140-pound Harlequin Great Dane named Bauer, aka Mr. B, who is my pride and joy, and another rescued Harlequin girl named Minnie – weighing in at a measly 110 pounds. At any given moment, I usually have another large-breed foster dog taking over my couch space, too. My current foster is Brie, a 7-year-old gentle-natured and calm 120-pound merle great dane.
Yes, I have resigned myself to the fact that I will remain eternally covered in dog fur.
I wouldn’t want it any other way.
If you’re like me, it means you can’t ever truly relax while on vacation because the entire time you’re anxious and worried about your four-legged child left behind… So here’s an idea! Next time, bring them along! The Pensacola Bay Area has plenty to offer for our furry friends. Why deny your four-legged buddy the chance for a new adventure too?
With plenty of paw-friendly accommodations and a variety of dog parks, neighborhoods, beaches, bayous and bluffs to walk, swim, hike and explore -- the area provides ample opportunity for pet lovers to give their furry friends a chance to make their own pawmarks on the area. Here are a few things to try!
If you think bringing your four-legged buddy to the Pensacola area will severely limit your range of accommodation, think again, as the list of local pet-friendly accommodations is growing every day. Many condos and beach houses are pet-friendly, so check the local list of vacation rental companies to see what’s available.
For those just passing through, why not stay near the emerald-green waters of Pensacola at the Paradise Inn? Located on the sound side of the beach, the hotel welcomes the wagging. They also happen to make a killer Bushwacker – a frozen, creamy chocolate perfection that is the signature drink of Pensacola Beach.
Got a hankering for Downtown? The Days Inn Historic Downtown hotel on Palafox Street in the heart of Pensacola will be posh enough for the pup, fur sure. Make sure to call ahead for details and restrictions because pet policies can change at any time.
SOCIAL HOUR – DOG PARKS
Great Danes are often referred to as couch potatoes. But even Mr. B will immediately jump off the couch and walk over to his leash when I ask him if he wants to go to the dog park! We just happen to live only blocks away from one of the most popular dog park/beaches in the area, The Bayview Dog Park and Beach, located on Bayou Texar in the East Hill neighborhood of Pensacola.
Bayview offers both a dry dog park and a dog beach. The dry park is well shaded by a canopy of live oak trees and is divided into two sections for large breed and small breed dogs. The park also includes a dog beach area along Bayou Texar for those water-loving dogs. It offers a floating dock, a dog washing station and two covered pavilions with picnic tables for both humans and dogs.
GRAB A BITE
Ever heard the saying, “Some people are more equal than others?” Well, that sentiment is true with dogs too. As you can imagine, Mr. B doesn’t exactly fit in my handbag or squeeze easily under a dining table. He’s taller than most kids and he weighs more than I do (unless I’ve eaten too much ice cream that month…) So it’s wonderful to find a place to relax and eat that also accepts dogs that resemble a small cow.
One of Mr. B’s favorite places to dine is Red Fish Blue Fish on Pensacola Beach. The colorful waterfront restaurant features a view of the sound, has covered and grassy dining areas and two white sands beaches. They offer everything from burgers to fresh, Gulf Coast seafood dishes. You absolutely must try the Bangin’ Shrimp appetizer. Millie, my foster lab, particularly enjoyed them. Best of all, though - your server will even bring your furry friends their own pail of refreshing ice water, too! How cool is that?
Another cozy little gem that welcomes the four-legged variety is The Cottage Café, located in Downtown Pensacola on the corner of North Spring and Gregory streets. The café is located outside the beautiful Pensacola Victoria Bed & Breakfast and features fresh salads, sandwiches, wraps and lovely desserts. Try the Curry Chicken Salad sandwich served on a croissant. You won’t be disappointed. Mr. B certainly wasn’t.
JUST A DAY AT THE BEACH
Do you own a dog that just never seems to get out of the water? Well, have no fear! Grab a blanket, an umbrella, some sunblock, a cooler and some snacks for you and your wet-nosed friend because Pensacola Beach offers not one, but TWO, dog beach areas along the Gulf of Mexico.
The east end park is located at the first parking lot past Portofino Island Resort on Via de Luna Drive. The west end park is located along Fort Pickens Road at the first parking lot past the last condos on the Gulf.
Be sure to bring a LONG leash with you if your dog is an avid swimmer, or prepare to brave the waves with him, for all dogs are required to be on leash at all times. Doggie bags, disposable waste bins and handy wipes are available at both locations. And remember, when exiting the beach, please leave behind only foot and paw-prints.
TAKE A HIKE!
You and your furry friend will have an assortment of sights, sounds, smells and wildlife to take in and explore at Naval Live Oaks, located on U.S. 98 east of Gulf Breeze, across the sound from Pensacola Beach. Part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, NLO offers over 7.5 miles of trails, including the .8-mile Breckenridge Nature Trail, that wind you from the shoreline of the Santa Rosa Sound to the tall, scenic bluffs along Pensacola Bay, all under the umbrella of ancient oak trees.
For more information on Pet-Friendly Pensacola, go to: http://www.visitpensacola.com/landing/pensacola-pets