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.

“In Valor There Is Hope”

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

At the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, Tavish meets the steady gaze of one of four adult lions, sculpted in bronze by Raymond Kaskey (b. 1943). Beneath is chiseled Proverbs 28:1, “The wicked flee when no man pursueth but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” In the background is the former U.S. Pension Office which is now home to the National Building Museum.

An 80-foot-long reflecting pool. Low, gently curving marble walls. Four statuary groupings of stoic lions protectively watching over cubs. And names: thousands upon thousands of names. This is the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Appropriately sited in Washington, DC’s Judiciary Square—a symbolic center of the U.S. criminal justice system—the Memorial has been a place for remembrance and introspection since 1991. Unlike some memorials which remain static after their initial dedications, this one is annually updated for the simple yet tragic reason that law enforcement officers continue to be killed in the line of duty. This year a total of 362 names joined the approximately 19,000 others already appearing on the marble panels. These entries represent the 163 officers killed in 2011, plus 199 officers who died in previous years and were recently discovered in historical records.

Though we had the grounds to ourselves when we visited on a weekend afternoon a couple months back, this is hardly a forgotten memorial. Two commemorative wreaths, a tiny American flag here, and a single fresh long-stem rose there gave evidence that others had come by recently to pay their respects. This scene is very different come May, when the Memorial figures prominently in the official events of National Police Week (always the calendar week surrounding May 15), first proclaimed by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. Commemorative activities annually draw anywhere from 25,000 to 40,000 attendees. There’s a candelight vigil at the Memorial—at that point completely lined with personal mementos, handwritten notes, and other tributes to fallen officers—and an official wreath-laying ceremony on the heels of the National Peace Officers Memorial Service on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

But there were no crowds or candles or bagpipes that afternoon, and we were left alone to wander. A brochure supplied onsite provides a self-guided walking tour of some of the Memorial’s points of interest, and you can even use your cell phone to access a free, guided narration. The Memorial encompasses local, state, and federal peace officers, so you’ll see names ranging among the ranks of municipal police, park service rangers, correctional officers, and members of the U.S. Secret Service. Along the way you’ll learn that…

  • the first known U.S. officer killed in the line of duty was Sheriff Cornelius Hogeboom of Hudson, New York, in 1791.
  • more than 245 female officers’ names appear on the memorial.
  • the deadliest day in U.S. law enforcement history was September 11, 2001, when 72 officers died responding to the terrorist attacks.
  • the average age of officers on the Memorial is just 39.

It’s a poignant reminder that in no small measure we owe our public safety to the “thin blue line” of protection by the nation’s law enforcement officers.

Dogging the Details

Click to see what a "1" on the Wag-a-meter means38°53′49.39″N,  77°1′2.32″W
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, Washington, DC

If traveling by Metro, the Memorial’s three-acre plaza actually covers the underground Judiciary Square station stop on the Red Line. If arriving by car, metered parking spaces are usually available on weekends on the streets surrounding Judiciary Square.

Tavish at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

This section of the memorial bears a quotation from the early Roman senator and historian Tacitus: “In valor there is hope.”

The memorial grounds are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, making them very accessible to visit and scoring a “1” on the Intrepid Pup Wag-a-meter. Springtime is especially pretty with all the flowering trees and some 14,000 daffodils. Should you wish to locate and make an etching of a name, you can search the finding aid directories and obtain pencils and paper from any of the four information stations at the Memorial.

Construction has begun on the south side of the Memorial for a National Law Enforcement Museum slated to open in 2015. To extend the Memorial experience in the meantime, there is a small Memorial Visitors Center and Store located just a few blocks to the southwest, at 400 7th Street, NW. There you’ll find assorted law enforcement themed merchandise, a timeline of U.S. law enforcement history, plus interactive kiosks with more information about those honored at the Memorial.

 

Around the “World” with Tavish

Around the "World" with TavishWith much public  attention focused on what happens on Capitol Hill it’s easy to overlook that Washington, DC has a vibrant international scene.  Amid the smörgåsbord of national associations, government agencies and multinational corporations are an astounding 176 official diplomatic missions. They’re all within northwest DC. While a few outliers are in Cathedral Heights, Penn Quarter or the U Street corridor, the vast majority are clustered on Embassy Row and in the Cleveland Park, Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom, Georgetown, and Kalorama neighborhoods. The architecture of the chanceries and ambassadorial residences are as varied as the countries themselves. And while you might think that embassies and their staffs are cloistered entities, nothing could be further from the truth.

Over the years the diplomatic community has developed creative and far-reaching ties with its host city. Many embassies sponsor or coordinate events with DC museums and institutions like the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Washington Performing Arts Society collaborates with 52 embassies annually as part of its Embassy Adoption Program, connecting 1,500 DC middle schoolers with embassy personnel for curriculum on world cultures. Ambassadors regularly entertain at their personal residences, and within several chanceries are public exhibition galleries that orient visitors to a country’s history, art and culture. Scan a  DC calendar of events and in any given month you’re bound to find an array of embassy-based lectures, film festivals, or national holiday celebrations. There’s even a highly-anticipated annual Embassy Chef Challenge.

Perhaps the best way to instant immersion in the DC embassy scene is to partake in Cultural Tourism DC‘s perennial “Passport DC” celebration. Drawing more than 160,000 visitors throughout the entire month of May are a series of festivals and open houses showcasing the embassies. The true extravaganza is the Around the World Embassy Tour that takes place, rain or shine. Admission is free and no advance reservations are necessary. Participants vary from year to year with consistently more than 40 featured.  As you tour you’re apt to take in everything from fashion shows to folk dancing and crafts to cuisine. Highlights from past years’ celebrations included seeing at the British Embassy a  place setting from Kate Middleton and Prince William’s royal wedding, experiencing a Dvořák concert and Tatras car show at the embassy of the Czech Republic, being drawn into a festive dance demonstration at the embassy of Trinidad and Tobago, tasting Marmite at the Australian embassy, and sampling goulash at the Hungarian embassy.

While you most definitely need to leave your dog at home (repeat, do not bring your dog!) if you’re attending this event, there’s nothing to say you can’t get in the international spirit and re-create the experience by doing a little “globe-trotting” with your pooch later on. Take your cue from the Intrepid Pup, who managed to go spanning the globe without ever leaving the city limits. Here’s his whirlwind tour of embassies from six continents that are also representative of the various styles and neighborhoods. Bon voyage!

Dogging the Details

Australian flag

38°54′27.65″N,
77°14′53.5″W
Embassy of Australia, Washington DC

Did you know that Australia is the only country to govern an entire continent? Australia’s embassy is on Massachusetts Avenue near Dupont Circle. Embassies often prominently display near their entrances symbolic works of public art by artists from their home countries. Outside the Australian embassy is a bronze by Australian sculptor Thomas Bass (1916-2010). It depicts a stylized version of Australia’s coat of arms where a red kangaroo and emu flank a shield that contains the badges of the Commonwealth’s six states.

Embassy of Australia

Dogging the Details

Canadian flag

37°53′34.2″N, 77°1′6.52″W
Embassy of Canada,
Washington DC

In 1989, the Embassy of Canada moved off Embassy Row to this building designed by Canadian architect Arthur Erickson. It dominates the Pennsylvania Avenue streetscape in the busy, high-profile Penn Quarter neighborhood. It was a cold afternoon in mid January when Tavish visited, so he is wearing a sweater to keep warm.

Canadian Embassy

Dogging the Details

Flag of China38°56′32.20″N, 77°3′58.90″W
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China,
Washington DC

The Embassy of China sits within an enclave of embassies in the Cleveland Park area of Washington, DC. Opened in 2009, this massive limestone building was designed by renowned Chinese American architect I. M. Pei (b. 1917) and constructed by Chinese contractors.

Embassy of China

Dogging the Details

Flag of Ghana38°56′32.30N,
77°4′4.65″W
Embassy of Ghana,
Washington DC

Ghana’s embassy shares International Drive with 15 others. As opposed to some embassies that have adapted existing buildings throughout the city for their use, the embassies in this neighborhood were all built intentionally for consular services.

Embassy of Ghana

Dogging the Details

Flag of the Holy See

38°55′28.26″N,
77°3′58.56″W
Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See, Washington, DC

You’re probably not the only one who can’t readily identify the yellow and white flag flying over the entrance to this impressive structure on Embassy Row. It’s the flag for Vatican City denoting this building as a nunciature, effectively a Vatican embassy and an administrative center of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. While the Vatican has had a delegation in Washington, DC since 1893, formal diplomatic relations were not established until 1984, the result of growing friendship between Pope John Paul II and U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

Holy See

Dogging the Details

Flag of the Czech Republic38°56′23.10″N,
77°3′16.16″W
Embassy of the Czech Republic, Washington, DC

This compound includes both the ambassador’s residence and the chancery, where consulate business is conducted. It’s located in the Cleveland Park neighborhood, and the extensive grounds border a section of picturesque Rock Creek Park.

Tavish at the Czech Embassy

 

Dogging the Details

Flag of India38°54′39.6″N,
77°2′49.12″W
Embassy of India,
Washington DC

Hailed as the father of India and a crusader for human rights via non-violent civil disobedience, Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) is memorialized in this 9-foot bronze statue by Gautam Pal (b. 1949). Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Prime Minister of India, dedicated the Gandhi Memorial in front of the Embassy of India during his state visit to the United States in 2000.

Embassy of India

 

Dogging the Details

Swedish flag38°54′4.08″N,
77°3′32.33″W
Embassy of Sweden
, Washington, DC

The House of Sweden opened in 2006 on the Georgetown waterfront as a stunning example of contemporary Scandinavian architecture. The House of Sweden contains the embassies for Sweden and Iceland, galleries, and premier event space.

House of Sweden

Dogging the Details

Flag of the United Kingdom38°55′11.36″N,
77°3′41.56″W
Embassy of the United Kingdom, Washington DC

The British Embassy is undoubtedly one of the grand dames of Embassy Row and is the largest of the UK’s embassies anywhere in the world. It’s also the largest of all the embassies in Washington, DC. The British government has had diplomatic representation in DC since 1791 and was the first to build on Embassy Row; its current embassy dates to the late 1920s/early 1930s. This statue of Winston Churchill (1874-1965) on Massachusetts Avenue in front of the ambassador’s majestic Queen Anne-style residence stands with one foot on embassy property and the other on American soil to symbolize Churchill’s Anglo-American heritage and honorary U.S. citizenship, as well as the long-standing relationship between the two countries.

Embassy of the United Kingdom

Dogging the Details

38°54′5.15″N,
77°2′38.81″W
Embassy of Uruguay, Washington, DC

This is an example of a smaller embassy located in a modern office building in the heart of the Foggy Bottom neighborhood in the nation’s capital. It’s strategically situated within close proximity to the World Bank, Organization of American States, and the International Monetary Fund. In addition to consular offices, this embassy has space for presenting programs and exhibitions on Uruguayan art and culture.

Embassy of Uruguay

The Intrepid Pup has also visited the embassies of Austria, Chile, Kingdom of Bahrain, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Georgia, Greece, Haiti, Kenya, Myanmar, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Singapore, Slovakia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turkmenistan. You can see these additional photos by locating the embassies on the Intrepid Pup Map!

Click to see what a "1" on the Wag-a-meter means Prepare to log some serious mileage if you’re going embassy-hopping with your dog, and plan accordingly. Keep in mind that you’re simply out for a fascinating stroll past some beautiful and culturally significant diplomatic missions—not to create an international incident by romping around on embassy grounds!  Your ’round-the-world tour ranks a “1” on the Intrepid Pup Wag-a-Meter for the ease in being to experience DC’s unique international flair.

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A Synagogue’s Moving Story

 

Tavish at the Adas Israel SynagogueNow that the calendar has flipped to May, the national observance of Jewish American Heritage Month has begun. President George W. Bush first enacted it in April 2006, and it’s been an annual celebration ever since.

Apropos of the month, Tavish the Intrepid Pup recently visited Washington, DC’s first Adas Israel Synagogue, now home to the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington‘s (JHSGW) Lillian and Albert Small Jewish Museum. The next time you’re zipping along (or sitting in traffic?) on I-395 near Massachusetts Avenue in the District, cast a glance high up on the west side of the interstate to catch a glimpse of it. Better yet, go visit!

This just so happens to be the oldest synagogue building in the nation’s capital. On the day we stopped by, both JHSGW’s education specialist Lisa and long-time archivist Wendy were on hand, and it was clear from conversing with them that the story of this synagogue is relevant to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences alike.

On one level, it’s an immigrant saga that has played out in countless cities throughout the country. In this case, the year is 1873, and 38 families among a rapidly growing Jewish community yearn for a permanent home for their Adas Israel congregation, which had split from Washington Hebrew in 1869. They enlist Max Kleinman and J. William & Co. to design and build a two-story brick synagogue at the corner of Sixth & G Streets, NW.

But here’s where an otherwise very local story intersects with the national stage. After years of planning and construction, the Adas Israel Synagogue’s completion is celebrated in 1876 with a three-hour Orthodox service. President Ulysses S. Grant is there, making him the first U.S. president to attend a synagogue service. While having a sitting president at a grand opening is a coup by any standard, Grant’s presence in particular is both significant and highly intentional on the part of the synagogue’s founders. Back in December 1862, while still serving as Union general in the Civil War, Grant issues “General Orders #11” calling for the expulsion of Jews from all territories under his command as a means of cracking down on black marketeers. President Abraham Lincoln quickly intervenes to overrule Grant’s astonishingly ill-conceived order, and Grant is scathingly criticized for anti-Semitism. The scandal festers throughout Grant’s 1868 presidential campaign and presidency (1869-1877). Through his many conciliatory actions, Grant eventually restores much of his integrity with the Jewish community nationally, and his attendance at Adas Israel in 1876 is met favorably. (Note: Historian Jonathan D. Sarna has just come out with a book on the subject entitled, When Grant Expelled the Jews and will be presenting a lecture and book signing with JHSGW later this week.)

On another level, the synagogue’s story reflects the changes in a congregation and in a neighborhood. The congregation ends up outgrowing the synagogue in less than 30 years and by 1906 sells the building. As part of an ethnically diverse neighborhood full of row houses and small businesses owned by African American, Chinese, Irish, Italian, German, Greek, Jewish and Russian families, it’s little wonder that the synagogue structure gets redefined in myriad ways throughout the 20th century. Other religious denominations use the space and, ironically, for a time there’s even a pork BBQ joint on the first floor!

Ultimately, though, the synagogue’s legacy is one of successful historic preservation. When the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (aka Metro) bought the land at Sixth & G Streets for building its headquarters, the Adas Israel Synagogue building seemed destined for a wrecking ball. The JHSGW, formed by volunteers in 1960, recognized the synagogue’s importance as a designated DC historic landmark and sprang into action to save it. In 1969, JHSGW had the synagogue moved in its entirety to its current site three blocks away at Third & G Streets, NW. The synagogue was added to the National Register of Historic Places that same year and, after extensive renovations, opened as the JHSGW’s museum in 1975.

With a number of JHSGW events specifically planned for this May’s Jewish American Heritage Month—from a challah sale (a traditional, braided egg bread…yum!) to a guided walking tour of Jewish sites at Arlington National Cemetery—there are plenty of reasons to put JHSGW on your agenda.

Dogging the Details

38°53’54.25″N,   77° 0’54.37″W
Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington (JHSGW), Adas Israel Synagogue, Washington, DC

Click to see what a "1" on the Wag-a-meter meansLike most museums, JHSGW doesn’t permit pet dogs inside the synagogue building, but that shouldn’t stop you and your pup from visiting the museum’s small but nicely landscaped grounds. Getting there on foot is easiest as there’s limited public parking nearby. Additional points of interest within the vicinity include the Judiciary Square complex, the National Building Museum, and the National Law Enforcement Memorial.

However, the best way to extend the JHSGW experience with your dog is to pick up two of the museum’s informative (and free!) tri-fold brochures. One is for a self-guided walking tour throughout the synagogue’s immediate neighborhood, highlighting a dozen buildings with various connections to Jewish heritage in DC. The other pamphlet is similar but provides a walking tour of Jewish sites within Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, just 8.5 miles south. Learn a little local history and get your dog (and yourself!) out for some exercise! For the compelling history and pleasant strolls, visiting JHSGW scores a “1” on the Intrepid Pup Wag-A-Meter.

A Grotto with a View: Olmsted’s Dog-Friendly Legacy

Tavish at the Summerhouse grotto on Capitol Hill

Today—April 26, 2012—is Frederick Law Olmsted Sr.’s 190th birthday. The Intrepid Pup is pretty sure Olmsted’s birthday isn’t widely celebrated nationwide, but it should be! After all, it’s because of Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. (1822-1903) that the terms landscape architecture, green space, and parkway are even part of our vocabulary.

Olmsted’s life is well-chronicled. An early writing and publishing career took the turn to landscape design when in 1857 he secured the position of superintendent of New York City’s Central Park. With a design competition for the park underway, Olmsted was approached by London architect Calvert Vaux (1824-1895), and together they submitted what ended up being the award-winning plan. In 1865 they formed Olmsted, Vaux & Company, a partnership lasting seven years, but eventually Olmsted’s reputation eclipsed Vaux’s. Olmsted would go on to found his own firm, which he relocated to the Boston suburbs in 1883. Today, the National Park Service maintains Olmsted’s Brookline design office “Fairsted” as the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site. Prior to Olmsted’s retirement in 1897, he and his firm had executed approximately 500 commissions, notably including the landscape design for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, Boston’s Emerald Necklace park lands, Detroit’s Belle Isle, the Stanford University campus, and Asheville’s Biltmore Estate. Olmsted’s nephew/stepson John Charles Olmsted (1852-1920) and son Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. (1870-1957) joined the firm and became full partners, successfully perpetuating Olmsted’s original design aesthetics and the family business well into the 20th century. Both men were founding members of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Frederick Jr. in particular became an adviser to a nascent National Park Service, and his influence can be readily identified in such parks as Yosemite and Acadia.

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Where there are parks, there is Tavish, so clearly the Intrepid Pup thing to do in honor of Olmsted Sr.’s birthday is to visit an Olmsted landscape. In Tavish’s case, it’s the grounds of the United States Capitol.

The mid 19th-century Capitol expansion responsible for adding the massive wings and installing a larger dome also necessitated attention to the surroundings. Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. presented a landscaping plan in 1874 and was brought in to oversee its implementation. What were by that time hallmarks of Olmstedian design—scenery, winding paths, integrated topography—were once again employed to the task at hand. Olmsted was cognizant that the Capitol itself was to be the centerpiece of the immediate landscape and thus created a pastoral expanse. He meticulously laid out the walkways and placement of more than 7,800 trees to create very intentional vistas. While he went fairly minimalist on exterior fountains and statuary so as not to distract or detract from the Capitol itself, Olmsted specified ornamental lamps and wrought iron streetcar shelters (thankfully still in place…see photo below!) to subtly harmonize with the overall design. In 1879, he began work on an open-air, hexagonal brick Summerhouse on the west, Senate-side lawn. An absolutely enchanting structure, neatly embedded among heavy vegetation along a sinuous path, it’s probably a safe assumption that many of the 3.5 million modern-day annual visitors to the Capitol never notice it. Yet step inside the Summerhouse, and it’s a little world unto its own. The thick brick walls keep it cool on even the sultriest of DC days, and the stone benches set into the alcoves can accommodate up to 22 people. In the center is a burbling fountain; originally, the cascading water was supposed to activate a series of musical chimes, but the mechanics were never quite right, so that feature was abandoned. Two oblong, rondel-like windows perforate the walls, but the third—fronted by a lattice of  ornamental grillwork—affords the view of a small grotto (see Tavish’s photo above). The effect is not unlike that of peering through the opening of one of those panoramic sugar Easter eggs to behold a magical scene.

Olmsted intended the Summerhouse as a place for travelers to regroup and perhaps ladle refreshment from the fountain. More than a century later, the Summerhouse’s role is unchanged, and it’s an apt spot for reflecting upon the considerable Olmsted legacy.

Tavish on Capitol Hill

Dogging the Details

38°53′29.33″N, 77°0′38.33″W
The Summerhouse
on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC

Click to see what a "1" on the Wag-a-meter meansThe U.S. Capitol grounds, including the Summerhouse, are dog-friendly, but you must keep dogs on leash and pick up any waste. It’s worth noting that, for security reasons, you won’t find public trash receptacles in close proximity to the Capitol perimeter.

The central fountain is no longer fed by a spring, and the three drinking fountains surrounding it supply filtered DC water, so it’s safe for drinking…or for refilling a travel bowl for your dog!

The Olmsted grounds score a “1” on the Intrepid Pup Wag-a-Meter as they’re expansive, scenic, walkable, and easily accessible.

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