National Howl-iday Scene: Part I

Tavish with the 2012 Capitol tree


GO FIGURE:  Intrepid Pup particularly liked the theme for the 2012 Capitol tree: “The Great Outdoors”! Culled from the White River National Forest in Colorado, this 74-year-old Engelmann spruce made stops in 30 different towns en route to Washington, DC. The tour was sponsored in part by Choose Outdoors, an organization dedicated to connecting Americans to public lands through outdoor recreation. The tree stands 73 feet tall and is laden with approximately 3,000 ornaments, most of which were handmade by Colorado schoolchildren.

With the holiday season comes an explosion of colorful decorations. Elaborate displays crop up in downtowns across America, and for a few short weeks everything takes on the magical luster that only twinkle lights can impart. The Washington, DC metro area is particularly picturesque in December, and the weather is usually still temperate enough that touring around is not a completely frigid proposition.

Over the next several posts, Tavish the Intrepid Pup will give you an insider’s tour of the national “howl-iday” scene, scoping out what are arguably among the most iconic—and dog-friendly—holiday spots the capital region has to offer.

*  *  *

Tavish’s first destination is the 2012 Christmas Tree on the grounds of the United States Capitol.

The original Capitol Christmas tree was a Douglas fir specifically planted on the property in 1964 to fulfill that role. When it eventually succumbed to storm damage, the Architect of the Capitol enlisted the help of the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service to sustain the holiday tradition. Every year since 1970, the trees destined for Capitol Hill have been cut and harvested from various national forests. Citizens from the home state supply thousands of handcrafted ornaments showcasing aspects of their state’s heritage, earning the Capitol tree the apt designation as the “People’s Tree.”

Click to see what a 3 on the Wag-A-Meter meansDogging the Details

38°53′23.24″N, 77°0′40.19″W
United States Capitol Christmas Tree, Washington, DC

The 2012 tree is on view December 4 – 26, 2012.

While the Capitol tree is one of Team Tavish‘s favorites in the metro DC region, it’s also the most fleeting. The cut tree arrives shortly after Thanksgiving and takes a little more than a week to be secured and decorated before a public tree-lighting ceremony with the Architect of the Capitol and the Speaker of the House in early December.  Thereafter, the tree is illuminated nightly from dusk to 11 pm until shortly after Christmas.

Timed parking on the street and in nearby surface lots makes the Capitol tree readily accessible during the evening hours. The large West Lawn can accommodate a LOT of people before ever seeming crowded, and that truly distinguishes this setting from some of the others on the “howl-iday scene.”  You can get right up close to the tree without being rushed or jostled, and that makes it great for checking out the diversity and creativity of the decorations. This year’s tree is an Engelmann spruce from Colorado, so many of the ornaments depict Colorado wildlife, mining and skiing-related imagery, and symbols from Native American tribes.

On the evening of our visit, construction related to President Obama’s upcoming second inaugural was well underway on the Capitol portico and lawn. . . perhaps explaining why this year’s tree will only be on view through December 26. The 7,000 LED bulbs produce a riot of color, with the luminous dome of the Capitol providing a signature backdrop for photographs.

Tavish was the only dog in sight when we arrived, although a couple more arrived as we were leaving.  Tavish seemed more than content to pose with the tree and sniff at the low-hanging boughs. Remember to keep your dog on-leash (the area is patrolled by Capitol Police) and bring bags to clean up; trash receptacles are located by the gateways on First Street, S.W.

The comparative lack of crowds makes this outing a pleasant one for dogs and humans alike. Combine that with the ability to capture some great holiday photos at a truly unique venue, and this excursion gets a “3” on the Intrepid Pup’s wag-a-meter.

Four Ways to Savor the End of Summer with your Dog

Lounging

Don’t throw in the towel on summer just yet: Tavish the Intrepid Pup has—count ’em—FOUR great ideas for eking out the last bits of summer fun.

Labor Day Weekend is upon us, officially signaling that summer is drawing to a close. But just because the sun is setting earlier and the number of BBQs is dwindling doesn’t mean there isn’t still fun to be had. To that end, Tavish the Intrepid Pup has picked four can’t-miss activities to help you and your dog savor these last days of summer and tide you over ’til next year.

Click to see what a 3 on the Wag-A-Meter meansEach of these tops out the Intrepid Pup’s wag-a-meter at a “3” not only for being canine-specific but also for being fun for dogs and people alike. While they all happen to take place within the greater metropolitan DC area, Team Tavish suspects that there are similar events elsewhere in the country…let us know in the comments section below!

 

Canine Cruise

Ahoy! Tavish spent the whole Canine Cruise facing into the breeze.

Canine Cruise with Potomac Riverboat Company, Alexandria, Virginia
38°48′18.40″N,  77°2′22.99″W

Only two more cruise dates remain in the 2012 season: Thursday 9/6/12 and Thursday 9/13/12 at 7PM and 8PM, weather permitting

Here’s your chance to get out on the water! The Potomac Riverboat Company offers a whole host of water taxi services and scenic tours along the Potomac, but this one is billed especially for dogs. Board the double-decked, open-air Admiral Tilp from the Alexandria Dock at the base of Cameron Street; look for the dog-friendly drinking fountain near the gangplank! Though you’ll have to purchase a ticket ($15/adult; $9/child, reservations are suggested), your dog rides for free and usually even receives a complimentary dog biscuit from the crew!

There were approximately six other dogs sharing the upper deck with us on the evening of our 40-minute excursion. It was typical, sultry end-of-summer weather, so the light breeze off the water was welcome. The captain pointed out the highlights and shared a few pieces of trivia, but otherwise this was not a highly narrated affair. You’ll head as far south as the impressive Woodrow Wilson Bridge and as far upriver as Bolling Air Force Base. Along the way there are lovely views of Old Town and National Airport on the Virginia shore and National Harbor and the Naval Research Laboratory on the Maryland side.

Dogs are required to be on 6-foot flat leashes.

Dog Swim

Tavish prefers wading and splashing to actual swimming but had an absolute blast at last year’s Dog Swim at NVRPA’s Great Waves Waterpark.

Dog Swim at NVRPA Waterparks
38°48′18.04″N,  77°6′1.56″W
Saturday 9/8/12 – Noon to 4PM

On the final day of the season before the pools get drained, all five of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority’s waterparks go to the dogs! Although the “rides” and slides are off limits, there’s plenty of action to be found in the wave pool, play areas, giant bubblers, and waterfalls. Come prepared to fill out a waiver/registration form and to pay the entry fee of $5 per dog. Once you pass through the security gates you can let your dog off leash, but be sure to keep your dog in view. Remember to bring a towel, doggie bags, fresh water for your dog to drink…and a camera! The sight of all those dogs racing around and grinning away (easily 50 at any given time) was priceless!

Though you may be tempted to join in the frolicking, only dogs are allowed in the water on the Dog Swim afternoon. And one final tip, shared from personal experience:  As your dog careens through the pools, be mindful of his toenails and paw pads, since the concrete decking can rapidly wear them to the quick or cause a tear. If your dog is due for a nail trim, don’t do it right before the Dog Swim.

NPS tour

Fala, you sly dog, you! Tavish poses with the bronze statue of Fala, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famed Scottish terrier and confidante, at the FDR Memorial. It’s the only presidential memorial to include a pet.

Presidential Dogs and Four-Legged American Heroes Tour, beginning at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, Washington, DC
38°53′2.24″N,  77°2′38.89″W

Upcoming dates are Sunday 9/9/12, Sunday 9/16/12, and Saturday 9/29/12, beginning at 5PM…plus a couple dates in October TBA, beginning at 4PM.

How better to explore man’s best friends’ contributions to our nation than via DC’s national memorials? Well-behaved, leashed dogs are welcome on this innovative (and free!) walking tour led by a National Park Service ranger. This particular tour is a relatively new offering—the first one was a month ago— and is rapidly growing in popularity. The tour convenes at the bookstore at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and, fortunately, finding late-afternoon weekend parking nearby on Ohio Drive isn’t impossible. In about 90 minutes’ time, you’ll cover approximately 1.5 miles at a leisurely pace, with built-in stops for water breaks and dog treats. Ranger Eddy Kahle readily held the attention of our multi-generational group consisting of 10 people and 5 dogs. Brimming with anecdotes and a dog-owner himself, Kahle is clearly passionate about the important role pets play in our lives. You’ll learn which president had the most pets in the White House (hint: one was a pygmy hippo!), who had a pair of beagles named “Him” and “Her”, and what dog joined the president on his morning jogs. As the tour moves away from the Tidal Basin and toward the war memorials, the focus shifts to the role of dogs in wartime and their value to returning veterans.

For your dog, bring along doggie bags, fresh water and a 6-foot leash. For you? Don’t forget a camera. After all, how else are you going to get that requisite photo of your dog alongside a super-sized Fala immortalized in bronze?

Yappy Hour

Tavish discovered that the Hotel Monaco’s open-air courtyard is a pretty happenin’ place.

Doggie Yappy Hour at the Hotel Monaco, Alexandria, Virginia
38°53′2.24″N,  77°2′38.89″W

5PM on Tuesday and Thursday evenings through October, weather permitting

One of the very first dog owners we met the winter we moved to northern Virginia told us point blank, “Come April, you must go to the Hotel Monaco.” That’s when the boutique hotel opens its brick courtyard for the much-anticipated Doggie Yappy Hours that take place every Tuesday and Thursday evenings all the way through October.

The ground rules are simple: no more than 2 dogs per handler, no paws on the tables, and dogs must be on 6-foot leashes and have current rabies tags. There’s a good vibe, and the people/canine-watching is pretty sublime. It’s not uncommon for the café tables and cushioned wicker sofas to be filled to capacity, with close to 25 dogs of all breed and sizes (plus a few adoptable dogs from the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria) lounging alongside. Hotel Monaco staffers are quick to accommodate with water bowls and complimentary dog treats. There’s no cover charge, but don’t think you won’t need a wallet. There’s an eclectic mix of non-draft craft beers available from the outdoor bartender. Wait staff will help you choose from a tasty selection of small plate “new American tavern” dishes from the hotel’s Jackson 20 menu. (Think fried green tomatoes, BBQ sliders, shrimp fritters, waffle fries with pulled pork and smoked gouda…yum!)

If you time it right on a Thursday, you can have drinks and appetizers at the Yappy Hour and then walk the three blocks down to the waterfront to catch the Canine Cruise described above.

O Say Can You Sailabrate?

Sailabration 2012

Tavish gazes at Baltimore’s Sailabration festivities and the visiting ARM Cuauhtémoc, a Mexican Navy tall ship whose home port is Acapulco.

From June 16 through June 19, 2012, Baltimore put the “charm” in Charm City by rolling out the welcome mat, inviting more than 40 tall ships and navy vessels, and dialing in some stellar low-humidity “Chamber of Commerce” weather…all in the name of a Star-Spangled Sailabration commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812.

Not one to miss an historic event, Tavish the Intrepid Pup joined the throngs last Saturday. With activities happening citywide at five separate locations, this had the makings of being a logistical and traffic nightmare, so we were pleasantly surprised at how easy it actually was to get downtown. We decided to forgo parking at M&T Bank Stadium when we saw people lined up to park and catch shuttle buses to the various venues and opted instead to park a little further north in Redwood Garage on South Eutaw Street for a reasonable $16 daily rate.  Turns out that this parking garage is a neighbor of the historic Bromo Seltzer Tower and the Baltimore City Fire Department. A few of the firemen standing in the open bay for Engine 23 offered up dog biscuits and a head pat to Tavish as we walked back by. What a nice welcome! It was just a few more blocks down to the heart of the Inner Harbor area. To take it all in, we headed all the way over to the south side and up the embankment of Federal Hill. It offers a  pretty spectacular panoramic overlook of the Inner Harbor, even when there aren’t performance stages, food pavilions, an Adventure Zone, and all those visiting ships!

There were Class B tall ships hailing from ports throughout the country, Class A tall ships (square-rigged, over 40 meters) from as far away as Indonesia and Brazil, and research vessels and gray hulls representing Canada, Denmark, Japan, Mexico, Norway, the UK and the USA. Bedecked with signal flags, they were a colorful sight to behold. All the ships were open for free public tours, but Intrepid Pup was content to skip the lines and take in the views dockside.  We even caught a few glimpses of the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels doing their precision flyover formations as part of the afternoon airshow.

Just because Sailabration has now concluded doesn’t mean that the official celebration has. Four historic ships are permanently berthed in the Inner Harbor and open for tours:  USCGC Taney (the last surviving warship of Pearl Harbor), the submarine USS Torsk, the Lightship Chesapeake and the sloop USS Constellation. And what’s more, with the War of 1812 so firmly embedded in Baltimore’s cultural identity, its related must-see attractions (Fort McHenry and the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House) are open year round.

Star-Spangled Banner Flag House

Tavish stands watch outside the historic Star-Spangled Banner Flag House.

With its proximity two blocks east of the Inner Harbor, we viewed a walk over to visit the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House as a good chance to temporarily escape the growing congestion on the piers.

The red brick Star-Spangled Banner Flag House dates to 1793 and is a registered National Historic Landmark for good reason:  it was here in 1813 that flagmaker Mary Young Pickersgill and eight other women took six weeks to fulfill a purchase order from Fort McHenry’s commanding officer Major George Armistead for an enormous 30′ x 42′ garrison flag. It was this same flag—still flying after British bombardment of the fort on September 13-14, 1814—that inspired attorney Francis Scott Key to pen the poem that would become the U.S. national anthem. What’s striking about the building is its size. Though relatively roomy by 19th-century standards, you have to keep in mind that this was not only Pickersgill’s house but also her office and “factory.” Most of the flags she sewed or painted for vessels in the Port of Baltimore were far smaller in scale. The soon-famous “star-spangled banner” was fashioned from approximately 400 yards of (ironically) British wool bunting. Each of the 15 stars measured two feet tip to tip, and each of the 15 stripes was two feet wide. In short, this meant that the nearly 100-pound flag was far too cumbersome to piece together in her house, so Pickersgill secured permission to finish it on the malthouse floor of Brown’s Brewery a block away! Amazingly enough, the signed receipt for the flag is retained in the museum’s archival collections. The total bill came to $405.90 for the labor and materials to create the star-spangled banner and a slightly smaller storm flag for the fort to use in inclement weather.

 

Dogging the Details

Click to see what 2 on the Wag-A-Meter means
39°16′49.01″N, 76°36′31.27″W
Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland

39°17′14.89″N, 76°36′12.57″W
Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, Baltimore, Maryland

 

Dog-shaped nutcracker

Check out this dog-shaped nutcracker! Intrepid Pup approves. It’s one of many typical 19th-century household implements displayed in the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House. Look for it on the mantel above the hearth in the kitchen when you visit!

As always, we had plenty of water on hand. And, ever mindful of the heat of the midday sun, we made frequent stops for our shade-mongering Intrepid Pup. Fortunately, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is pedestrian-friendly and well equipped with watering holes, benches, and scenic views for the two- and four-legged alike.

As one might guess, the historic Star-Spangled Banner Flag House isn’t pet friendly, but the exceptionally helpful visitor services staff did allow our Intrepid Pup a brief respite in the adjoining modern, air-conditioned visitors center where we watched a 10-minute introductory film. In fact, all this hospitality is what earned our Sailabration excursion an enthusiastic “2” on the Intrepid Pup wag-a-meter! While half of Team Tavish then went on the approximately 30-minute tour of the house (you can choose between docent-led or self-guided via cell phone), the other half of Team Tavish stayed outside with Tavish.

Tavish at the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House

Outside the Flag House, there’s a spacious courtyard. Tavish is sitting on a clever outline map of the U.S. where each “state” is made of the official state stone (i.e. Petoskey stone for Michigan, granite for New Hampshire, etc.). The flag in the background is the same size as Mary Pickersgill’s 1813 star-spangled original. What Tavish didn’t get to experience was the house tour and the museum gallery and kids’ discovery center on the first floor of the visitors center…but he did see the film!

 

 

Lest We Forget

Arlington National Cemetery: Tomb of the Unknowns

From a distance, Tavish witnesses the ceremony underway at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Sentinels from the Third U.S. Infantry headquartered at Fort Myer maintain a round-the-clock vigil. Guard changes occur every hour (and every 1/2 hour from April 1 through September 30) with a somber ritual.

UPDATE: As of October 26, 2016, Arlington National Cemetery no longer permits leashed dogs, except for service animals and military working dogs.

The last place you’d expect to find serenity is among vacationing families, high school field trippers, and trams loaded with tourists. And you’d be right…except this is Arlington National Cemetery. Even without the discreet signage to “conduct yourself with propriety,” most folks inherently realize that this is a place of honor. As such, you might pick up on the fact that there’s no recreational jogging or cycling on the grounds, and a general hush prevails. It’s a place that is at once peaceful but solemn, heroic yet tragic, both beautiful and brittle.

You don’t see many dogs at Arlington National Cemetery, though they are expressly permitted (see “Dogging the Details” below). Not to anthropomorphize, but Tavish our Intrepid Pup clearly picks up on the vibe during our visits that these are times for calm and respect. Usually most content only when his leash is fully extended, here—and without command—Tavish invariably sticks at a close heel.

We initially avoid the bulk of the crowds by walking up the steeply sloping Custis Walk. It winds by the grave of President William H. Taft as well as past the tomb of Mary Randolph, the first person known to be buried at Arlington. At the top of the hill are two memorable sights: Arlington House and a stunning panoramic view across the Potomac River of Washington, DC’s downtown monuments.

Arlington House: The Robert E. Lee Memorial

Maintained by the National Park Service, Arlington House is in the final phase of a multi-year restoration. The building is currently unfurnished, with certain rooms closed to the public, but visitors are encouraged to take a self-guided tour.

Quite simply, were it not for Arlington House, there would be no Arlington National Cemetery. The Greek temple-style house was constructed in 1802 by George Washington Parke Custis (1781-1857), who had been raised from infancy at Mount Vernon by none other than his grandmother Martha (Custis) Washington and her second husband George Washington. Custis intended for Arlington House to be both a family home and a tribute to his illustrious step-grandfather. Further cementing its place in history was the 1831 wedding in the parlor of Custis’s daughter Mary Anna Randolph Custis and Lt. Robert E. Lee, son of Revolutionary War Hero Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee. The marriage united two prominent Virginia families. When Virginia seceded from the Union on April 19, 1861, Robert E. Lee resigned his commission from the U.S. Army the next day and sided with his home state. Lee’s decision not only inexorably altered the course of the American Civil War but also cost him his home. To defend the nation’s capital, Union troops made preparations to occupy the strategically situated Arlington House. The Lee family left in haste in May 1861, and when Lee’s wife failed to pay property taxes in person, the home was confiscated. Government officials—interpreting Lee’s loyalty to Virginia as an act of treason—further sought to ensure against the Lees’ return by establishing a military cemetery on their land.  Lee’s uprooted family would never again live at Arlington House, and Arlington National Cemetery was born.

Tavish at Arlington National Cemetery

Tavish on the Custis Walk at Arlington National Cemetery, overlooking the eternal flame at President John F. Kennedy’s grave.

Roads through the cemetery are named almost entirely for American military heroes (Pershing, Nimitz, MacArthur, Eisenhower, etc.). Following them takes you on an introspective journey among the cemetery’s more than 250,000 graves. If you’re of a certain age, the memorials for the crews of Space Shuttles Challenger and Columbia will hold special meaning. And if you’re of another certain age, the eternal flame marking the grave of President John F. Kennedy will take you back to that fateful day in Dallas. Then there’s the main mast of the U.S.S. Maine, erected in the memory of those who died in the explosion in Havana Harbor in 1898. Individual headstones honor the final resting places of veterans who also distinguished themselves in other arenas—folks like heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist,  polar explorer Richard Byrd, and astronaut Gus Grissom. The iconic Memorial Amphitheater provides the backdrop for the Tomb of the Unknowns, and the changing of the guard ceremony will leave a lump in your throat no matter how many times you see it. Further afield is the Pentagon Group Burial Marker, a five-sided black granite memorial to those who died in the Pentagon or on American Airlines Flight 77 during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

It was here, on our most recent visit (this very Memorial Day weekend), that we were joined by a small group who had just pulled up on their Harley-Davidsons. One middle-aged women initiated conversation, explaining that she was in town for the Memorial Day Rolling Thunder activities that heighten awareness for POW/MIAs. “Best thing I’ve ever done,” she said. She gestures in the direction of another woman, clad in a white leather biker jacket. “Do you see that lady there?” she asked. “She’s a gold star mother. Her son died in Iraq in ’03. We just came from visiting his grave.” She tugged at the back of her own leather jacket to show us the patch that all her chapter members wear in his memory. A sobering moment.

And then there is Section 60.

The tenor of the cemetery perceptibly changes here from past to present. It’s the only area in Arlington National Cemetery where placing mementos beyond traditional flowers is officially sanctioned. Here you see snapshots propped up against the headstones. Candles spelling out “Happy Birthday.” A tethered heart-shaped balloon emblazoned with “I Love You.” Here the emotional scars are still as raw as the ground where grass has yet to grow over, where—in some instances—a permanent marker has yet to be placed. The standard signage seen elsewhere in the cemetery gives way here to signs that read simply, “Funeral Route.” Removed from the throngs is where Arlington is experienced at perhaps its most profound. Here is where the nation’s war dead from Afghanistan are being buried.

Oddly, your visit to Arlington up to this point isn’t quite adequate preparation for the visceral reality of Section 60, and it hits you like the proverbial ton of bricks. Ahead on the path, several rows in, we noticed a woman (a wife? mother? sister?) standing stock still before a grave where she had spread what appeared to be a red, white, and blue handmade quilt. We maintained a respectful distance so as not to intrude, and she was unaware of our presence. Yet, just as we were about to pass, she stirred, and in one fluid movement lay down upon the quilt, curling onto her side, eyes closed in a private, unspeakable grief.

Dogging the Details

Click to see what a "1" on the Wag-a-meter means 38°52′34.59″N,  77° 4′13.83″W
Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

38°52′51.92″N,  77° 4′20.91″W
Arlington House: The Robert E. Lee Memorial
, Arlington, Virginia

Arlington National CemeteryFor as many times as we’ve visited Arlington National Cemetery over the years, it wasn’t until a friend and fellow dog owner recently mentioned it, that we were aware that leashed dogs are allowed on the grounds. Unless they’re service animals, they aren’t permitted in the visitor center buildings or inside Arlington House.

The Cemetery’s accessibility earns it a “1” on the Intrepid Pup wag-a-meter. The Cemetery has its own Metrorail  stop on the blue line and is regular destination on most guided tours of the area , but if you’re coming with your pet, these aren’t options. If you’re coming on foot, you can reach the Cemetery’s main entrance from the pedestrian trails that run over the Memorial Bridge and along Route 110 and the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Your best bet, however, is simply to park onsite at the Cemetery. There is ample vehicle parking in the paid lot off Memorial Drive, and rates are quite reasonable (currently, $1.75/hour for the first three hours and $2.50/hour thereafter). There is no admission fee to the Cemetery or to Arlington House. Once on the grounds, the Cemetery is extremely walkable, with well-marked paved drives and posted locator maps. Maps are also available from the visitors center. Be mindful that much of the cemetery’s 624 acres is hilly (“Uphill in both directions!” we overheard one family remark), so plan accordingly and bring plenty of water for yourself and your dog. Temperatures, particularly in the summer months, routinely exceed 80 degrees. Though the sheer expanse of the grounds readily absorbs crowds, Arlington National Cemetery attracts upwards of 4 million visitors annually, so be prepared for lots of people at popular locations like the Tomb of the Unknowns.

 

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Cheers to Dog-Inspired Beers!

Intrepid Pup pint glass and bottle caps from dog-inspired brews

Why, yes that is an Intrepid Pup pint glass! And it’s surrounded by bottle caps representing some dog-inspired brews and breweries. How many do you recognize?

Did you realize that the average American lives within 10 miles of a brewery? So says the Brewers Association, and they’re in a  position to know. This national association represents more than 70% of the American brewing industry, with its members making more than 99% of all beer brewed in the United States.

All fascinating facts, to be sure, but how does this relate to the Intrepid Pup? Well, it’s American Craft Beer Week®, an annual celebration since 2006 that showcases more than 1,900 small and independent craft brewers with thousands of community-based events across all 50 states.

While true beer purists this week have focused on things like hop content, organic sourcing, and original gravity calculators, the Intrepid Pup has taken a totally different tack:  dog-inspired beers and breweries.

Beer is an elixir that’s the product of art, chemistry, and a lot of time and patience. Many a brewer over the centuries has stood watch over a mash tun with a faithful canine companion, so perhaps it’s no wonder that a few have taken that relationship a step further and made those dogs the very faces of their breweries. Let’s take a look at some modern examples in 11 different states:

Spanish Peaks Brewing Company’s Black Dog Ales hail from Polson, Montana. The original “black dog” gazing out of the logo is Chugwater Charlie Hill (a.k.a. “Chug”). Though Chug is no longer alive, he was a prolific stud with many surviving descendants, and Chug’s granddaughter Taylor is owned by the current brewer. Chug’s paw print appears on the brewery’s bottle caps.

Lagunitas Brewing Company – Petaluma, California:  Petey, the spunky American Staffordshire Terrier of Little Rascals fame, is the basis for the fictional pup whose visage graces every Lagunitas bottle cap. It was hoped that the loyalty of man’s best friend would resonate with customers and translate to loyalty to the brand. Looks like the strategy is working pretty well!

Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s Smuttynose Brewing Company uses a harbor seal in its marketing but calls a Weimaraner/Brittany Spaniel mix named Olive (1991-2007) the “iconic mascot and spirit guide of our brewery.” Olive was the inspiration both for Old Brown Dog Ale in the brewery’s first year of operation in 1994 and also for the Really Old Brown Dog Ale released 13 years later.

Big Dog’s Brewing Company out of Las Vegas, Nevada, features a head shot profile of a black Labrador Retriever and a beer line-up that includes Red Hydrant Ale, Watch Dog Wit, Alpha Dog Double Red, and Wonderdog Double IPA.

Halfway around the world, after climbing K2—the world’s second highest peak—in 1983, George Stranahan happened upon a painting of a dog with bat wings. The surreal image stuck with him, influencing the moniker of the Flying Dog Brewpub he founded in 1990 in Aspen, Colorado. By 1994 it had become the full-blown Flying Dog Brewery in Denver and is now based out of Frederick, Maryland. Since 1996 the edgy, ink-spattered dogs drawn by British artist Ralph Steadman (b. 1936) have been hallmarks of the brewery’s bottle caps and labels. The beers include Garde Dog, Dogtoberfest, K-9 Winter Ale, Kujo Imperial Coffee Stout, and four beers in a special “Canis Major” line.

Roswell Barker, an English bulldog, is the mascot for Portland, Oregon’s Hair of the Dog: “Loyal…Pure…Faithful…Wet Nose.”

Turns out there’s a real dog behind Laughing Dog Brewing of Ponderay, Idaho, and it’s the family yellow Labrador Retriever named Ben. There’s even a “laughing dog” apprentice in Ben’s son Ruger. The brewery’s self-proclaimed “fetchingly good beers” include Alpha Dog IPA, DogZilla Black IPA, Cold Nose Winter Ale, Devil Dog Imperial IPA, and Dogfather Imperial Stout.

Barney, an uncharacteristically water-loving Great Pyrenees, is the “sea dog” of Maine’s Sea Dog Brewing Company. Barney has since passed on but is immortalized with his paw print on the bottle caps and his cheerful countenance—wearing a Sou’wester Fisherman’s hat—appearing on all the labels.

A cartoonish, sleepy dalmatian is the logo for Sleepy Dog Brewery of Tempe, Arizona. The dog theme extends to the names of its brews, which include Wet Snout Milk Stout, Tail Chaser American IPA, Red Rover Irish Red Ale, and Dog Pound Pale Ale.

Thirsty Dog Brewing Company in Akron, Ohio, depicts a lovable, floppy-eared scamp holding a beer mug in its mouth. He’s even on the bottle caps!

Wild Blue, the specialty fruit lager infused with blueberries first released by mega-brewery Anheuser-Busch in 2005, can hardly qualify as a true “craft beer,” but we’re including it here for two reasons:  1. A comical, stylized bright blue bulldog fronts the brand.  2.  The St. Louis-based brewing giant gets kudos for its Bud Light “Here, Weego!” spot that aired during Super Bowl XLIV. Featuring a mixed breed rescue dog (real name: Nugget), the commercial was tied to a Facebook™ fan campaign resulting in the brewery making a $250,000 donation to Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation in California.

Another shout-out goes to Baying Hound Aleworks of Rockville, Maryland. Smaller than most microbreweries, this brewery fashions itself as a small-scale “nano-brewery,” but its founding namesake was a great big bloodhound named Marmalade. The Aleworks started as a home brewer’s operation, and apparently Marmalade could always be counted upon to lick up the malt barley.

Tavish with Intrepid Pup pint glass and bottle caps from dog-inspired breweriesAnd here’s where our final parallel to the Tavish, the Intrepid Pup comes in. He, too, has been known to hanker after certain malty brews. But with hops’ potential for toxicity in dogs and carbonation/alcohol just being a bad combo for them in general, what’s a malt barley-loving pup to do? Believe it or not, the answer is Bowser Beer™. The company, 3 Busy Dogs Inc. (recently relocated to Seattle, Washington), “brews” batches of a broth-based novelty beverage especially for dogs. The recipe retains that malt barley (it’s good for its vitamin B and joint-friendly glucosamine) but is neither fizzy nor alcoholic. And yep, in a stroke of marketing genius, you can even customize a “six-pack” of Bowser Beer with your dog’s picture on the label!

While the company’s “3 busy dogs” have changed over the years, the original mascot was Maggie, an English mastiff. The current team of official taste testers are Dax the Rottweiler, Quigley a Golden Irish, and a terrier mix named Muggsy.

So pour a Bowser Beer for your dog and raise a glass of your own* to these dog-inspired beers and breweries. Cheers from the Intrepid Pup!

 

* Requisite fine print:  please drink responsibly.