Named the Louisiana state dog in 1979, the lovely, spotted Catahoula Leopard Dog originated in the north central part of this state. Their name comes from a Choctaw word translating to "sacred lake," and the breed was originally found in the Catahoula Lake region by early settlers. Known primarily as hunting and working dogs, their original use was to pen and catch wild hogs and cows using the "canine fence" method to hold – and direct – herds for their owners. Although not officially an AKC-recognized dog, Catahoulas were assigned Herding Group designation and have been recorded since 1996 in the Foundation Stock Service, an optional record-keeping service for all purebred breeds not currently registrable with the Kennel Club.
It's especially fitting that we're spending this week out and about in Louisiana, home to the biggest Mardi Gras celebration in the country! North wasn't lucky enough to make up some craw
fishdog gumbo, but I'd still love to deck him out for Fat Tuesday.
My fave dog-friendly part of this holiday is the parade by the Krewe of Barkus — the theme of the sixteenth annual event was "Indiana Bones and the Raiders of the Lost Bark," and took place last weekend in New Orleans. The krewe member pooches are accompanied by a human escort around the French Quarter and to a follow-up "pawty" in Armstrong Park — it looked like so much fun, I couldn't resist sharing pictures of the festive pups when you read more
Can you say that five times fast without giggling? If the name didn't clue you in, Chi-wa-wa Ga-ga specializes in gear for super teacup pooches like Chihuahuas but still stocks treats, toys, and more for pets of all sizes. This French Quarter pet shop also carries original clothing and accessories designed by shop owners Elayne Angel and Justine Roig. Would your teensy pup like a jester hat for Mardi Gras? Does your ferret need a bomber jacket? How about a ladybug backpack of her very own? Get all this and more to pamper a little one . . . and make him the envy of his whole krewe!
Get your furry buddies BuddyBeds to let them lounge in comfort and peace. Made with orthopedic memory foam, the beds prevent painful pressure points and have a waterproof, breathable fabric liner that products the precious interior or your precious exterior, too! In addition to their two rectangle sizes, they also have SnuggleBuddys doughnut-shaped beds, too.
Created by Denverite, Debra Holte for her 20-year-old cat, Rossignal S. Kamikaze, who suffered from arthritis and a heart murmur, she's expanded her product line to include ones that even fit her 104-lb. pooch, Webster, as well. The company donates a percentage of their profits to the Humane Society of Denver, commonly called The Dumb Friends League, as this organization prides themselves on giving a voice for animals that (obvs) cannot speak for themselves.
There's no shortage of wintertime outdoor activities in the state of Colorado. From hiking in the mountains to walking through town, it's a great place to experience that fresh mountain air. The Denver metro area is a must-stop for animal lovers with several easily-accessible trails and parks open to our four-legged friends. Personally, I pick Aurora's Cherry Creek Park for their 60-acre off-leash dog area at the southern end with room for running, fetching, chasing, and more! This state park also has 12 miles of trails including the paved Cherry Creek Trail which runs through the park from north to south, along with many other routes to explore with your outdoorsy pooch including a small creek for a (warm-weather) dip.
Aspen has no shortage of chichi resorts for your chichi pals but few others (excluding the St. Regis) come close to the perks of Little Nell. Offering 26 "ski in, ski out" residences at the base of the mountain, they've got a pet package to rival any in town. First up, you'll get a copy of their own Petiquette handbook with guidelines for pets and owners along with lists and reviews of recommended animal-friendly hiking trails. When you arrive, find a cozy bed for each of you and, if your trip was too long, order room service and rest up before exploring the town's offerings. Off their in-room dining menu, I recommend treating your pooch (or even a borrowed one) with a "Puppy’s Jet Lag Kit" including custom gourmet doggie biscuits and his own pet menu — tenderloin of beef with eggs and rice, grilled chicken breast with carrots and brown rice, or grilled salmon with scrambled eggs — served up on a custom place mat and bowl set. When you're ready to explore, add personalized brass ID tags, and walk him yourself (or use their services) then get him cleaned up with their recommended groomers. While it used to be free of charge, a $100 charge per room applies for guests visiting with their pets . . . but that includes up to two hours of pet sitting!
Let's pretend for a moment. You've decided to take a trip to Aspen but . . . sigh . . . Spot couldn't come with you. You arrive to the snowy town and wander around. People with dogs are everywhere. Hiking on Bernese Boulevard. Shopping near Main Street. Sledding at Snowmass. You're filled with regret. Sadness. Jealousy.
Fear not! Head straight over to the Aspen Animal Shelter and get some quality time with one of their adorably adoptable pooches. For the past 15 years, this shelter has offered a plan to have town residents and visitors take a pet out for a few hours, the entire day, or even overnight . . . for (last time I checked) free! It's a great way to get the pups socialized and exercised, and some people even end up adopting their new friend at the end of the trip! If you're not into the outdoor activities, you can come by to brush and play with the cats, too. Picking up a furry snow lover will make you feel like a local and, for those people who don't permanently reside in animal-friendly homes, you can take a vacation from your pet-free lifestyle . . . without spending a fortune!
I decided to kick off our week in Colorado with a shout-out to the International Snow Sculpture Championships! Although it's not entirely pet related, many of the competing countries from around the globe incorporated an animal theme into their creations. The last day of sculpting was on Saturday, and the results will be on display until Feb. 3. If you can't make it to Breckenridge, Colo., check out the top finishers (and my favorite wild works) in this slideshow.
Along with cage-free day care and grooming services, Red Rover shines brightest in the dog training arena. With everything from ESL-K9 (aka, a six-week training class, English as a Second Language for Dogs) to a PupPoise class to help reactive dogs maintain poise and self-assured behavior around other dogs, they've got offerings for beginners and those in need of refreshment. There are more advanced options for those doggies who have mastered the basics, and trainer Heidi Dixner includes unlimited email support with her paid classes in addition to offering extra one-on-ones in your home ($60 per hour) or individual sessions in Red Rover's Nashville location ($20 per 20 minutes). And if your dog wants to learn how to dance, then he's in luck — they now offer freestyle classes to get you started off on the right paw!
Memphis' Shelby Farms is one of the largest urban parks in the US with around 4,500 acres of forest, wetlands, and meadows. With horseback riding, a resident herd of bison, and many other animals that call this park home, there's plenty of nature to observe. In addition to the park's many people-geared features (like picnics and paddleboats), there is a multi-acre off-leash dog park for the pooches! While the park is overseen by the Park Conservancy, the huge Shelby Farms Dog Off-leash area has its own organization to advocate for public education about dog park etiquette and safety along with any maintenance and park improvements to make this place even better for local dogs and dog owners. Located on the northeast part of the map, the off-leash area is mostly fenced (around parking lots and any roads) but, because the grounds are so expansive, it's necessary that any dogs playing here are under voice control at all times – it's not the park for pups that will be too distracted by the scents and sounds of other animals to stay close by.