Intrepid Pup Bracketology: 2015 Edition

Pounceball
The treats came out, and the picks are in! For the fourth year running, Intrepid Pup Tavish has engaged in his own special brand of March Random(ad)ness to select who he thinks will be top dog in the 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. On the all-important “Selection Sunday,” Team Tavish happened to be out of the country, so the mantle of responsibility for facilitating Tavish’s picks fell to extended family members. They had inquired whether there was any special technique required. Um, not really. As we’ve noted in past years, Tavish is consistently inconsistent. But so long as he’s motivated (read: has treats) and is presented with clear choices, Tavish is swift and decisive. Our stand-ins reported that there was much excited barking and that our 18-year-old cat Hobbes assumed his traditional role as impartial observer, emitting a low rumble if the proceedings came too close to invading his personal space.

Wait no longer, Pup fans, behold the picks:

Intrepid Pup's 2015 picks

How do your picks stack up to the Intrepid Pup’s? Click on the bracket above for a larger, printable PDF version. Enjoy the madness!

 

Sergeant Stubby Wearing Military Medals

A decorated World War I veteran and Georgetown University’s living mascot, Sergeant Stubby was truly an intrepid pup. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Cut to the chase, and you’ll see that in Tavish’s world, Georgetown will be the 2015 champs. While it remains to be seen whether the team can go the distance, there’s no denying a great canine connection. Even though they’re known as the Hoyas, among the school’s earliest mascots was one heck of a tenacious bull terrier named Stubby. In 1917 this stray pup was rescued by Private J. Robert Conroy and smuggled aboard a ship bound for France to accompany the 102nd Infantry, 26th Yankee Division. Stubby ultimately saw action in 17 engagements throughout World War I. After nearly dying in a poison gas attack, he was so sensitized to the smell that he would warn troops of its presence. Also uncanny was his ability to find wounded American soldiers in enemy trenches; he would hone in on voices speaking English and then stand guard and bark to alert the medics. He buoyed morale by visiting troops in the hospital and even knew how to salute! General Pershing presented Stubby with a medal for heroism, and the dog went on to meet Presidents Wilson, Harding and Coolidge.

HoyasDog

Tavish sizes up the Hoyas bulldog emblem near the Georgetown University campus.

When Private Conroy returned from the war and eventually enrolled at Georgetown to study law, it went without saying that the much-decorated Stubby would go with him. The dog’s celebrity status made him a shoe-in as Georgetown’s living mascot. With Stubby’s passing in 1926, the New York Times ran a half-page obituary. Stubby’s taxidermied remains were ultimately donated to the Smithsonian Institution, where they are currently on view as part of The Price of Freedom exhibition at the National Museum of American History.

Over the years, Georgetown had other live dogs as mascots, including a terrier named Hoya, a Great Dane named Butch and a series of bulldogs. Today the bulldog mascot “Jack” remains, but it’s a student in a dog costume.

GO HOYAS!

Retail Hound

Tavish at Orvis

Dogs Welcome: The sign is right at dog’s-eye level! Tavish can’t read, but fortunately he didn’t need to. He spotted the water bowl just inside the doorway instead.

While adventures at national parks and historical sites are the usual fodder for IntrepidPup.com, this time we’re exchanging the woodland trail for a little detour down Main Street and an adventure of a different kind:  shopping. Yep, the retail jungle.

It’s de rigueur to bring your pet to places where you’ll be shopping for them (think: pet boutiques, PetSmart®, Petco®, etc.). But, honestly, where can you go when you happen to be out shopping with your pet? For a variety of perfectly justifiable reasons—usually having to do with local ordinances or health codes—many businesses don’t allow Fido or Fluffy unless they’re assistance animals, so it’s unrealistic to expect every commercial establishment to welcome your furry friend with open arms.

When traveling with Tavish, leaving him unattended isn’t an option, so we’ve mastered the drill of taking turns going into stores while one of us remains outside with him. And that’s okay. Seriously. We’ve ended up having some wonderful conversations with folks over the years by virtue of waiting outside a shop with the Intrepid Pup. But when there are exceptions to the rule and we can bring him inside? Those tend to be memorable win-wins.

Here’s our roundup of six favorite dog-friendly re(tail)ers from the road this past year:

 

Dogging the (Retail) Details

42°17’49.82″N, 83°52’12.60″W
Motawi Tileworks,
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tavish at Motawi Tileworks, Ann Arbor, MI

Tavish got the royal treatment at the tileworks. They even snapped a photo of him for Motawi’s Facebook feed!

Fact: We’ve been fans of Motawi Tileworks for years and have quite a few of the company’s signature art tiles in our home. Nawal Motawi started the business in her garage in 1992, and today it’s a tour-de-force in interior design. Carried in more than 350 showrooms and museum shops nationally, Motawi tiles have been featured in Huffington Post and will appear in a 2015 episode of PBS’s acclaimed “Craft in America” series. So when our travels took us through eastern Michigan last autumn there was no way we weren’t going to visit the Motawi factory. It’s in an unassuming industrial park a little ways from downtown Ann Arbor. With Tavish along for our Midwest road trip, we parked in the lot and figured one of us would walk Tavish around the grounds while the other reconnoitered inside.

Tavish at Motawi Tileworks

Motawi’s “Boneyard”: Tavish was a little disappointed there weren’t real bones here, but the humans were excited! It’s actually the firm’s seconds room, where tiles with slight imperfections can be found at reduced cost.

 

 

 

Long story short, the showroom manager caught sight of us through the picture window and beckoned us all in. “Oh, we’re absolutely dog-friendly,” she said, and then added somewhat cryptically: “People are going to be really excited.” With that, she disappeared down a hallway, and moments later, several employees piled out of the back to come fuss over Tavish!

This ended up as a classic example of how being dog-friendly can make good retail sense. Because Team Tavish didn’t have to split up, we were able to browse at a more leisurely pace. What could easily have been a hurried 15-minute stopover turned into a great, nearly hour-long customer experience! Motawi staffers got their dog fix, and we purchased several new tiles as mementos of our visit.

Tavish at Reiner's

“Say, do you guys know where they keep the treats?” Tavish befriends the menagerie at Reiner’s.

43°15’17.49″N, 79° 4’16.79″W
Reiner’s
, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada

Last year our travels took us across the border to Ontario, Canada, and we spent an afternoon in charming Niagara-on-the-Lake. While eating a light lunch on the outdoor patio of café Taste, the window display of the shop next door caught our attention: finely crafted leather ottomans in the shapes of hippos, rhinos, bears, bulldogs and more! It turned out to be a newly opened flagship store for Reiner’s. Established by German immigrant Reiner Henneveld in 1967, the company has remained in the family all these years, and the pieces are handmade some 90 miles west in Kitchener. The two saleswomen (the store manager and a new trainee) eagerly welcomed Tavish, shared a bit about the company’s history and showed us the various animals. Before long, we’d decided a moose ottoman would not only make a good Canadian souvenir but also a nice addition for our living room. Better yet, we were able to select the leather and have the piece custom made. It was shipped to us about six weeks later—a nice reminder of our dog-friendly shopping experience!

Saks Fifth Avenue

Tavish was particularly fascinated by the woman setting up her Cartier station. Treats? Are those treats?

40°45’28.95″ N, 73°58’38.35″ W
Saks Fifth Avenue
, New York, New York

Cartier, Prada and Gucci, oh my! Although we’d read that Saks was dog-friendly, we were still dubious in approaching this grand dame of Fifth Avenue establishments. Really, a fancy department store? But the doorman assured us we weren’t mistaken, and so we were ushered into the opulence of the women’s accessories and fragrances departments. When presented with big echoing spaces, Tavish has a damning habit of barking a few times, and the glittering ground floor of Saks was no exception. He must think it’s a riot. We, however, were cringing and thinking the doorman would reappear at any moment to escort us out. Au contraire. Tavish’s excited barks turned out to be the siren song that summoned every boutique associate within hearing radius to come over and pet him. Charmed life, mon ami.

 

Tavish at Annapolis Pottery

Amid platters, vases and coffee mugs, Intrepid Pup found a selection of pet bowls, too!

38°58’42.20″ N, 76°29’24.00″ W
Annapolis Pottery,
Annapolis, Maryland

Head to historic Annapolis, Maryland, and an array of dog-friendly options await—from patio dining to taking in views of the Chesapeake Bay or strolling through the picturesque campus of the United States Naval Academy. But if ceramics are your thing, then don’t miss the Annapolis Pottery located on State Circle in the shadow of the Maryland State House. Much to our delight, it’s dog-friendly! For more than 40 years the shop has carried functional and decorative ware hand crafted by talented potters working onsite, as well as sourced from ceramic artists around the country. There’s a dizzying array of forms in colorful glazes, and your well-behaved pup’s visit just might be rewarded with a complimentary dog biscuit or two!  Bonus: the well-stocked Paws pet boutique is just a few doors away.

Orvis_inside

Scanning the retail horizon at Orvis. Adventuresome and outdoorsy…hey, that appeals to me, too!

The Orvis Company, Inc.
(67 retail locations and 11 outlets in the U.S.)

Since the founding of Orvis in 1856 in Vermont, the company has become the oldest mail-order outfitter and longest continually-operated fly-fishing business in America. The company’s retail locations both in the U.S. and in the U.K. sport rugged yet stylish outerwear and clothing, fly fishing equipment, and gear for hunting upland birds. It just so happens they have a pretty extensive selection of dog beds, collars and travel gear, too.

While we’re *pretty* sure that Tavish couldn’t read the “DOGS WELCOME” decal right at dog height on the door, he did see the water bowl just inside the doorway and made a beeline for it. We hadn’t visited an Orvis store in years (there wasn’t one near where we used to live), so Tavish pulling us in was a homecoming of sorts. We got reacquainted with the brand while the sales associate got acquainted with Tavish, lavishing him with a couple of dog treats that “magically” appeared from behind the counter. Hey, whadya know, it ultimately resulted in our purchase of three men’s shirts and a sweater. Retail therapy? Sure, but here’s another thing to feel good about: Orvis is a socially responsible company, donating 5% of its pre-tax profits annually in support of environmental initiatives, community projects and canine well-being. Orvis also runs a cover dog contest for its biannual “Dog Book” catalog and since 2009 has specifically raised over $1 million for canine cancer research grants. Two paws up.

Tavish at Torpedo Factory Art Center

So many studios! Tavish takes in the view from the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s main concourse.

38°48’17.57″ N, 77° 2’23.19″ W
Torpedo Factory Art Center
, Alexandria, Virginia

The Torpedo Factory Art Center was among the early paragons of the adaptive reuse/working studio movement. In 1974, the founding artists took over a dilapidated, former munitions factory on the Alexandria, Virginia, waterfront, converting the cavernous industrial space into a hive of creativity. More than 40 years later, it’s still going strong:  home to 82 artist studios, six galleries, two workshops and an art school. Explore all three floors and you’ll discover jewelry, ceramics, fiber art, sculpture, fine art photography and works on paper and canvas to fit any budget. Each studio is part workspace and part retail, meaning you have surprising access to converse directly with the artists, ask questions and gain insight into their artistic processes; many accept commissions. What might come as even more of a surprise are the studio dogs.

Tavish with Opie in Studio 16

When studio dog Opie (right) is in residence in Studio 16, he’s as big a hit as owner Lisa Schumaier’s whimsical creations in papier-mâché and raku.

Indeed, many generations of artistic muse in canine form have accompanied their owners to the Torpedo Factory and made the studios their homes away from home. Peer past the gate by the counter in Studio 226 and you might just catch a glimpse of Lab mix Donut contentedly lounging in the sun. Look closely, and you’re just as sure to spy Rocky the chihuahua curled up in Studio 214 or dachshund Chester sitting patiently in Studio 321. And it’s because of these resident pups that yours is welcome at the Torpedo Factory, too. So grab a leash and soak up an art scene like no other!

Save

Lucky Dogs All

Tavish at Shenandoah National Park

Tavish at Shenandoah National Park with his 2014 award for “Best Dog Blog.”

2014:  A good year to be Tavish the Intrepid Pup! Back in May, his website (IntrepidPup.com) took top honors for “Best Dog Blog” in the BlogPaws 2014 Pet Blogging and Social Media Awards. The announcement came during an exclusive red carpet, “Oscar style” awards ceremony presented by Pet360, Inc. in Lake Las Vegas, Nevada.

Guided by a strict set of criteria, a distinguished panel of industry experts had judged more than 1,200 entries and selected finalists across 12 distinct categories. BlogPaws’ co-founder Yvonne DiVita remarked, “These are among the highest honors in the pet social media world. We’re very proud of the Intrepid Pup for this achievement.” BlogPaws first began hosting its pet-friendly social media and marketing conference in 2010, and it has grown annually into the biggest event of its kind with literally hundreds of bloggers, brands and media professionals attending from around the world.

As for us with Team Tavish, we couldn’t be happier for the Pup and feel pretty humbled not only to have been nominated by great fans but also to actually win. After all, BlogPaws is internationally known as a premier networking and influence group, and to be recognized for excellence as the result of its thoughtful peer review process is really gratifying and validates what IntrepidPup.com is all about.

In conjunction with the honor, Tavish received a personalized trophy from BlogPaws (see photo above), and on behalf of all twelve category winners, BlogPaws gave back to the conference’s host community by presenting canine body armor to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and pet oxygen masks to the Henderson Fire Department.  As an incredible bonus, sponsor Only Natural Pet committed to providing the non-profit animal rescue organization or shelter of our choice with 400 pounds of its newly-released Canine PowerFood™ Red Meat Feast Formula. This premium quality kibble is the latest in the company’s line of holistic pet food. Made in the USA with fresh pork and lamb, locally-sourced fruits and vegetables, and PowerBoost—a blend of probiotics, digestive enzymes, pumpkin, green-lipped mussels and sea cucumber—it’s formulated to provide optimal health benefits.

So…who did the Intrepid Pup designate as the recipient of the 400 pounds of food?

Lucky Dog color logo Lucky Dog Animal Rescue (LDAR) was our charity of choice, and in coordinating with LDAR’s founder, Mirah Horowitz, Intrepid Pup earmarked the food delivery for one of LDAR’s partner shelters: the Florence Area Humane Society (FAHS) in South Carolina. At least once a month, FAHS sends anywhere between 25 and 35 dogs to Washington, DC, via its relationship with Lucky Dog. Once the dogs are confirmed for rescue, FAHS’s amazing volunteers frequently foster them in their own homes until the transport departs for DC.

 

About Lucky Dog Animal Rescue (LDAR)

Tavish with Lucky Dog Sasha

Tavish knows about Lucky Dog Animal Rescue because his neighbors are frequent fosters, and he gets to “chat” over the backyard fence with many of the pups. Here’s Tavish getting acquainted with the beautiful and very sweet Sasha. Lucky Dog had worked with a rescue group in Puerto Rico to transport her to Washington, DC. This is one of countless Lucky Dog tails/tales with a happy ending; Sasha found her “forever home” at a Lucky Dog adoption event just two days after this photo was taken!

LDAR is a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing homeless and abandoned animals, primarily dogs from high-kill shelters where there are few resources and even fewer adoptions. Most Lucky Dog rescues come from Virginia, West Virginia, the Carolinas and Puerto Rico. LDAR doesn’t operate a shelter of its own, but by working with volunteers, foster homes, local veterinarians, trainers and boarding facilities, LDAR is able to rescue hundreds of animals every year, providing loving temporary care and matching animals with carefully-screened forever homes. LDAR is equally committed to ending pet abandonment and therefore provides resources and education on responsible pet ownership, healthy nutrition, positive behavior training, and the importance of spay/neuter.

LDAR reaches potential adopters with a large online and community presence, as well as through weekly adoption events held throughout DC, Maryland and Virginia. With a base of more than 1,000 volunteers working tirelessly to find permanent homes for these animals, LDAR has saved more than 6,700 animals since its founding in May 2009.

It’s true what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words. And it just so happens that a film about Lucky Dog premiered in January 2014 entitled, The Lucky Ones. It sums up just what Lucky Dog  is all about—a journey intertwining the lives of homeless animals with rescuers devoted to making certain they’re homeless no more. Give it a watch, and see for yourself (if you’re prone to happy tears, keep a Kleenex handy):

Lucky Pups of Florence County with food donation

A couple of the lucky (and highly adoptable!) dogs from Florence, South Carolina, pose with some of the food donated in November 2014 by Only Natural Pet via Intrepid Pup’s award. Many thanks to Stephanie of FAHS for the photo!

In mid November, we were delighted to hear from Stephanie with FAHS that the shipment of food had arrived! It’s heartwarming to know that the food not only helps minimize the financial burden on FAHS foster families but is also part of the considerable arsenal of TLC these rescuers provide in the days leading up to a Lucky Dog transport to a promising, certain future.

Click to see what a 3 on the Wag-A-Meter meansAs many faithful followers of the Intrepid Pup know, one hallmark of Tavish’s adventure-related articles is an Intrepid Pup wag-a-meter reading…and as a salute to the Lucky Dogs everywhere, this one’s  a “3”!

The Writer’s Blog Tour

Introducing Eve Fleishman, our multi-faceted friend who nominated us. She’s a “forty-something, married, no kids, two cats, small apartment in the big city kinda gal” with a lot on her plate as a singer-songwriter-performer-blogger. Check out her interview on her blog, Alice and the Rabbit Hole.

Ever have a completely unremarkable week when out of the blue comes an interesting opportunity? Such was the case upon hearing from a long-time friend: the über-talented singer-songwriter (and newly blogging) Eve Fleishman! Hers was a nomination of Intrepid Pup to participate in a virtual Writer’s Blog Tour. Tag, you’re it! And while Intrepid Pup followers have probably noted that we don’t do (m)any blog hops, here’s one where we’re going all in to give that proverbial “peek behind the curtain” on the writing process and then paying it forward by spotlighting some fellow writers to continue the tour. Read all the way to the end to meet our two nominees.

But first, on to our Writer’s Blog Tour interview:

What am I currently working on?

Part of Team TavishWhile I was lucky to be able to take vacation time from my regular job to get on some longer, really great road trips with Tavish this year, the flip side is that there unfortunately hasn’t been much time to write them all up. Anecdotes and good tips galore. And oodles (read: thousands) of photos to filter through! Bottom line…there’s a lot in the pipeline at the moment. Intrepid Pup fans can look forward to forays into literally new territory: an unforgettable few days of urban exploration in the Big Apple, hikes in first-time states for Tavish, and hey(!) in October, Intrepid Pup went international. So, there’s  a border crossing and several days in scenic Canada, where, I kid you not, one of the first things we heard was, “So, you’ve got a super sweet dog there, eh?” Beyond that, come December, I’ll be prepping a couple of new installments for our seasonal feature (now heading into its third year) entitled, “The National Howl-iday Scene.” And I really have to go back and finish a couple of posts that have been rattling around for waaaay too long, including “Bark Ranger in the Port City” which will recount Tavish’s visit to a newly refurbished National Park site and his inaugural call out as a “celebrity.” They’ll be worth the wait—promise!

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

The blogosphere is increasingly made of up people posting about their pets. The millennia-old bond between canines and humans is cited in everything from scientific journals to reality TV. And given the growing, multi-billion-dollar pet services industry, cherishing one’s dog is hardly unusual. To tout Tavish as “the best” diminishes all the other great relationships people have so fortunately forged with their pets. Yet Tavish is my best, and I’m lucky to have found so steadfast a companion who also happens to serve as muse.

There are some terrific websites that have demystified the concept of traveling with one’s pet and immensely facilitated locating dog-friendly destinations and lodging. And while it’s easier than ever before to confidently decide upon a place and get there with your dog, I still don’t think there are a lot of detailed resources devoted to what activities you can actually do with your dog once you’ve arrived so that you’re both getting the most out of it. Sightseeing, exercise, learning, fun and spending time with your dog don’t have to be mutually exclusive activities. I feel that IntrepidPup.com’s niche is to sit squarely at the intersection of storytelling and authenticity, and I especially like that this blog has attracted crossover audiences among dog lovers, avid outdoorsmen, travel enthusiasts, and history buffs. It’s been gratifying to see how the Intrepid Pup has evolved into a brand influencer not only on the dog blog scene but also among museums, cultural and historic sites and national parks.

Why do I write what I do?

Tavish_TeamTavishIntrepidPup.com kind of just happened. Really. The one thing that people seem to universally comment on about Tavish is that he always seems really happy, and that rubs off. You can’t help but smile. A ready gift to share with others is how personable he is, and that’s something one can feel all the way down the leash and back up again. Lifestyle-wise—as the human part of Team Tavish—I’m an outdoor enthusiast and amateur photographer with a professional background in museums. Friends had been encouraging me to write and somehow combine these elements. When a job change a few years back meant I wasn’t doing as much writing and designing, I turned to developing IntrepidPup.com as a way to fill and nurture that creative void. I spent some time figuring out what my niche would be (as I mentioned earlier) and had some basic goals in mind but never anticipated IntrepidPup.com becoming the award-winning platform it is today.

How does my writing process work?

Tavish at computer

What’s my writing process? Well, the dog does the typing, so that’s a big time saver. *I wish*

Oh, it’s sooo easy! Says no writer. Ever. You know that expression about sausage? Where it’s best not to see it getting made? Well, usually, so too, is my writing process. It’s complicated. A little messy, even. I’ve always enjoyed writing and am a bit of a grammar and vocab geek, so the flow, precision and word choice aspects of writing are appealing. For me, writing is like assembling one of those maddening 10,000-piece jigsaw puzzles. I don’t write in order: I zip around, write a little of the conclusion, pop back up to the lede, scroll down to some random part in the middle, swap out sentences here and there. I’m that jigsaw puzzler who snaps together all the edge pieces and then plugs away at filling in the difficult bits. Because exploring with Tavish is the fodder for my written end-product, I have to make sure I’m making the time to get out there and explore in the first place. Since I’m pretty visual and also aware that I’m writing for an online audience, I’m thinking at the outset about how it’s going to look on the screen—from the layout to image selection with the number and size of the photos. With the Intrepid Pup articles, I frequently turn back to a brochure I picked up along the way or to (sometimes illegible and cryptic) notes I’ve jotted during an excursion. I always surprise myself with how much back-end research winds up going into a piece, even when I’m “writing what I know” from personal experience. I write directly on the computer but will never fully relinquish the material comfort of having scraps of paper and a pencil close at hand. I know when I’ve finished, and it’s akin to that moment when the puzzle piece you’ve already examined and touched a hundred times turns out to be the one that slips effortlessly into the final gap to complete the picture. Simultaneously satisfying and anticlimactic.

Continuing the tour…

My nominees to continue the Writer’s Blog Tour are Sharon Boston of Nerd Trips and Trevor Johnson and Ryan Pratzel, the creative team behind Travel at Random. I’m grateful for their friendship but also consider them trusted sources when it comes to informative, entertaining writing. Get to know them a little better for yourself with these introductions below, and look for their own interviews in the coming days:

Sharon Boston | Nerd Trips

Sharon Boston combined her natural curiosity about people, quirky sense of humor and interests in travel, history and architecture into a unique blog—Nerd Trips: Roads Less Traveled to Presidents, Poets & Other Historic Persons. Through a writing style once described as “breezy and informative,” Sharon transports readers to locations ranging from the O. Henry World Championship Pun Off and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery to Lincoln’s boyhood home and the Sherlock Holmes Museum.

On a Nerd Trip, you can stand in the room where James Madison spent months writing the Constitution, then hear a lady ask where Dolley’s dogs are buried. Or debate with park rangers about which president would win a foot race. And if you think Poe’s stories are scary, you should see the stairs in his house.

Nerd Trips are more than just learning facts about famous people, part of the fun is the laughs you have along the way, discovering small towns, local eateries and kooky characters. Come along for the ride!

 

Ryan Pratzel and Trevor Johnson | Travel at Random

Travel at RandomTravel at Random shares the journeys of Ryan Pratzel and Trevor Johnson. We travel for business, we travel for pleasure and we travel for the fun of it. Our blog is a mix of reviews, travel guides, attractions and tips we pass along. Ryan has been traveling most of his life. A former journalist, Ryan owns a video production and marketing company. Trevor is the web developer behind the blog and contributor as well to the ever expanding content. We’re both avid travelers always seeking our next adventure.

TravelAtRandom.com has taken our readers from New York City to a remote glacier in Alaska’s wilderness, from Southeast Asia to Eastern Europe and everywhere in between. Our mission is to share our experiences and hopefully help and learn from fellow travelers along the way. Join us on our journey!

Save

Save

Save

A Day at the Bay

St. Michael's collage

Glimpses from around the 18-acre campus of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland. Clockwise from left: a) Goofing around with the cut-outs in front of the museum; b) In the boat building workshop; c) Surveying the shoreline with the Hooper Strait screwpile lighthouse in the background; d) A tasty view of the harbor from atop the 1879 lighthouse; e) Catching some rays on the pilothouse of the buy boat Thor; f) Exploring the history of Maryland’s crab fishing industry.

It was a beautiful spring day, and we decided to head to Maryland’s eastern shore to do some exploring in St. Michaels, a town known for its Chesapeake Bay breezes, traditional Maryland fare (think:  blue crab and Smith Island cake, which are the official state crustacean and state dessert, respectively), and history (more about that later). To reach St. Michaels, you head for Annapolis which is a pretty snazzy dog-friendly stop in its own right, go over the Bay Bridge, and about 50 miles later (less than an hour, if the traffic gods are smiling upon you) wind up at your destination.

We didn’t set out with a real plan this time other than to savor the sights, the day, and okay…maybe some crab cakes. We followed Route 33/Talbot Street about a half mile into St. Michaels’ downtown and turned right to park in the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s lot.

Tavish at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

What!? Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is dog-friendly. How cool is THAT?!

We of Team Tavish were trying to figure out where along the fence line was the best spot to photograph Intrepid Pup Tavish with the museum’s signature lighthouse in the background, when…. whaaaaat?? Wait. A. Minute. Just on the other side of the fence we spied a Mutt Mitt Dispenser! You wouldn’t have one of those planted there if dogs weren’t welcome, right? So we stopped into the museum’s Admissions Building and inquired.  “Yes, of course!” the visitor services attendant replied. “You’ll need to keep your dog on a leash and clean up after him, but otherwise he’s allowed anywhere on the campus, except in buildings that have carpeting.” With that, we happily shelled out our entry fees (Tavish was free) and ended up spending nearly three hours there!

The museum was a real treat:  unexpectedly dog-friendly and far more extensive than we’d imagined. There were only four carpeted pavilions Tavish couldn’t go into. For those, we just took turns while one of us waited outside with Tavish, who did his share of rolling in the grass and watching the passing boats. Tavish even spied a beautiful tabby keeping an eye on us from a scrub pine. We later learned she’s a former stray who is now the museum’s resident salty boatyard cat, Ms. Edna Sprit! As for places Tavish COULD venture into, there were many! We wended our way through the Small Boat Shed housing the nation’s largest collection of Chesapeake Bay watercraft. We explored a dredgeboat to learn all about oystering and clambered out on the wharf to the working waterman’s shanty, where we got to check the eel pots and clumsily experiment with using oyster tongs.  And a real highlight was navigating a narrow spiral staircase and crawling through a hatch to reach the top of the 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse!

Tavish with Chesapeake Bay Retriever

An homage to Maryland’s state dog: Tavish sizes up this cast iron statue of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever outside the “Waterfowling” pavilion.

A bonus for dog lovers is the museum’s waterfowling exhibit chronicling a key element of bay heritage. While Tavish couldn’t partake of the fascinating display of hand carved duck decoys and tools of the trade, there was a stolid cast iron Chesapeake Bay Retriever statue outside with an interesting story (see photo at right).  It just so happens that in 1807, Marylander George Law was sailing home from England aboard the Canton, when he intercepted a sinking British vessel and rescued its crew and two Newfoundland puppies. When Law arrived safely at port, he purchased the puppies from the captain and brought them home. He named the male Sailor and the female Canton. Since Law ultimately had to go back out to sea, he gave the dogs to two men who allowed them to breed with local dogs, probably coonhounds. Their progeny had dense dual coats, took exceptionally well to the water, and were prolific in their versatility and ability to retrieve waterfowl. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever as a breed was born, and in 1964, it was recognized as Maryland’s official state dog.

 

Click to see what 2 on the Wag-A-Meter meansDogging the Details

 38°47’14.35″N,  76°13’13.73″W
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
, St. Michaels, Maryland

St. Michaels ranks a “2” on the Intrepid Pup’s wag-a-meter for being exceptionally dog-friendly and offering plenty to do for pup and person alike.

 

Tavish at the Crab Claw Restaurant

Hmmm. . . lobster I’m familiar with from living in Maine. You? Not so much!

If you’re spending the day in St. Michaels, you’ll need to grab a bite to eat, and fortunately there’s a quintessential Maryland-y option that’s also dog-friendly: The Crab Claw Restaurant. This is definitely fair-weather casual dining, because with your pup in tow, you’ll be eating outside on the partially covered, spacious deck. Be prepared to wait a bit for your picnic table, since lots of people will have this very same idea on sunny weekends. It’s worth it, however, for the good food and spectacular view of the bay. Truth be told, the people-watching is equally entertaining, as folks pull up in boats of all shapes and sizes. After noticing a young couple a few tables away too full to finish off their dozen crabs, we decided to order the less messy and labor intensive option: crab cakes. Tavish was acting particularly winsome that afternoon, and it wasn’t long before the woman from the couple came over to pet and take pictures of Tavish.  And. . . somehow we ended up with the remainder of their steamed crabs! Tavish is a shameless charmer and seemed both intrigued and pretty smug about this turn of events (see photo at left). Unbelievable.

Tavish at the Broken Rudder Doggie Bar

Talbot Street in St. Michaels caters to dogs with this complimentary, walk-up watering hole: the Broken Rudder Doggie Bar.

You’ll want to walk off your lunch, and St. Michaels’ Talbot Street/Route 33 is lined with plenty of shops, including a pet boutique named Flying Fred’s. If you pause to read historical plaques along the way—or fancy ducking into the St. Michaels Museum at St. Mary’s Square—you’ll learn that St. Michaels was where young Frederick Douglass lived as a slave from 1833-36. You’re also bound to hear how the resourceful residents of St. Michaels “fooled the British” during the War of 1812. With the British fleet approaching in August 1813, townsfolk hung lanterns high in the trees at the outer boundary. The British fell for the ruse and aimed their cannons such that most overshot the village, ultimately sparing it from a worse fate. We encountered many dogs along our walk, and several local businesses had treats for dogs and bowls of fresh water outside.

At this point, you might have worked up a thirst of you own, so a stop at Eastern Shore Brewing is in order. This local microbrewery opened in 2008 and operates out of a historic mill complex right on South Talbot Street.  They have a couple of year-round offerings and a half dozen seasonals on rotation. We tentatively poked our heads into the entrance just to survey the scene, assuming we’d have to come back another time minus our dog. No sooner had we done so, however, than one of the brewery staff spotted Tavish and hurried over to greet us.  “No, stay!” he said. “If your dog’s friendly, we’re dog-friendly. Heck, most dogs are better behaved than some of our patrons, so come on in!” And with that, we were swept inside to where a live band was playing and there was already a healthy crowd gathered for mid-Saturday afternoon. The bartender immediately brought over a bowl of water for Tavish, who promptly settled himself into a care-worn overstuffed leather chair (and got his photo taken by a few smartphone-wielding guests), while we tried a couple pints.

From there, we crossed Talbot Street and headed down West Chew Avenue to San Domingo Park, scenic green space that overlooks San Domingo Creek. If you bear to the right, you’ll see a trailhead and a covered bridge. The short paved trail runs more or less parallel to Talbot Street but through residential neighborhoods. A fifteen-minute walk will deliver you to Railroad Street, and you can hang a right to re-connect with North Talbot Street again.

On our next visit, we’ll definitely take the narrated, 70-minute sightseeing cruise aboard the two-level, 149-seat Patriot. We simply ran out of time that afternoon to fit this in, but in talking to the Captain dockside, we learned that the cruise is pet-friendly at his sole discretion. We’ll be back! Also nice to know is that even though ours was just a day trip, St. Michaels boasts several pet-friendly lodging options, from motor lodges to inns to vacation rentals.