Dog’s Guide to Sarasota
Most mornings I wake up, lick my owner’s face and jump out of bed. I am a dog, and to my family, I am the cat’s meow, the bee’s knees and the bird’s chirp. You get the picture, I am loved. Let me tell you about us dogs, we can be a finicky group. Some of us like to get dressed, some of us have spa days, and others are treated to gourmet meals and cookies. And some dogs just want an afternoon out on the town, like me. Thankfully, in Sarasota, there are plenty of places to relax, have a nice meal, shop and hang out with us doggies in tow.
Let’s start with the parks. There are nearly 20 dog-friendly parks in Sarasota. “Dog-friendly” means we must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet in length and under the control of a competent human. (I don’t think it’s actually required that you be competent, but it is helpful.) Sarasota has beautiful parks and it’s wonderful to bring us so we can make friends, and who knows, maybe you’ll make a friend too. Dog lovers sometimes judge others on if they too have and love a dog. So when you’re out and about with us and see other like-minded people with their pets, well there’s a bond. Dog owners are good peeps, am I right?
In addition to the many “dog friendly” parks, there are two Paw Parks where we can be off leash. The first is the 17th Street Paw Park. They have separate areas for the small and large dogs and benches so you can relax and watch the action. They also have pick-up bags which everyone should use, but sometimes people forget, (and by forget I mean pretend they don’t see). There’s also water so bring a dish because we’ll be hot and thirsty. The second is the Lakeview Paw Park. This one has more shade so it’s a bit more comfortable for all. It also features a drinking fountain and showers for the dogs as well as a time-out area for the naughty ones. (I have never visited this section, but my brother, Astro, well let’s just say he’s been here a time or two.)
We canines love the beach, and there is a stretch of beach south of the Venice Pier where we can play in the surf and sand called Brohard Beach. It’s really fun to see us running in the water, catching frisbees, and kicking up the sand. And we love it! A fun time at the beach is certainly my idea of a “dog day afternoon.” And if your dog (and you) are somewhat agile, you could both go kayaking or paddle boarding at I Kayak Sarasota. A dog and his owner on a paddleboard might make a good photo opportunity and there are options for capturing all the great moments. Best Friends Pet Photography, Pets by Paulette, Simply Spotted Photography and Pet Portraits by Betty Lupacchino are some pet photographers around town. We don’t like to sit still, so you’d better make it quick!
Once we’ve worked up an appetite after all that park playing, there are eateries all over Sarasota that allow dogs and some that will even bring us a nice bowl of water. Some of the highlights include O’Leary’s Tiki Bar and Grill where you and your dog can come in and enjoy the eats and ambiance on Sarasota Bay. Columbia Restaurant and Café L’Europe on St. Armand’s allow us out in their outdoor seating area so you can eat and people/dog watch at the same time, which is so cool for us. If you or your pet is feeling nostalgic, the Starlite Room is reminiscent of a ‘50s or ‘60s restaurant and if you’re feeling spicy, El Toro Bravo serves Mexican food and we are welcomed here as well. There are nearly 40 restaurants in Sarasota that allow you to bring your dog, which is quite gracious really, when many businesses in other cities frown upon four-leggers. My owner loves eating dinner with me so maybe more restaurants should allow me in their establishments.
The pet accessory industry, particularly for dogs, takes in millions of dollars a year, and Sarasota folks have a nice selection of ancillary pet services to choose from. SQUIRREL!!! (Sorry, I had some chasing to do, now let’s get back to the story.) Anyhow, if we need supplies like food, clothing, leashes, and other stuff, we have the larger chain stores like Pet Supermarket, Petco and Petland Sarasota. There are other options too, including Wet Noses where all the food, treats and products are made in the USA. Bone Appetite is also a great choice if you need gifts. Even us dogs like gifts, so be sure to make it a good one. At Pawsh Boutique and Spa, we can get a new leash and get pampered with a spa day, plus we leave with a cool bandana. There are several dog groomers in the area including some that are mobile and can work around your schedule including the Pampered Poodle. It’s nice for us sensitive dogs to be groomed in the familiarity of our own surroundings so having somebody come to our home is a great option. But some dogs are social butterflies so a day at the spa can also be a good time to interact with friends. I’m shy so I like getting spiffed up at home, but that Astro, he likes an audience.
If you need a pet sitter or some place to board us, there are numerous options in the area. Walkies Pet Sitting, Mimis Aunt Pet Sitting and Fetch! Pet Care are some options. In addition, there are national resources like Rover.com and Care.com where you can type in your ZIP code and get recommendations for these services. As far as boarding goes, Hagan’s Pet Resort will pipe in music to your dog’s sound-proofed room and you can also opt for home cooked meals as well. Camp Bow Wow can also be found in Sarasota and Bayside Pet Resort & Spa offers 5 star amenities. So if you have to travel or be away for work, there are places we can go so we’re not alone. You can also find people who will board us in their homes so you can get to know the families and can recreate a family setting if you think we would prefer that. But check out the references, please.
Sarasota has a number of veterinary clinics and emergency centers located throughout the city in case we get hurt. The Sarasota Veterinarian Emergency & Specialty Center is open 24 hours a day and even has a pet ambulance to transport your dog back to your personal veterinarian after services are rendered. There are also a number of alternative veterinary clinics that offer holistic approaches to our care. I like these places the best as the smell of lavender relaxes me.
So you see, Sarasota is a really cool place for us dogs to be. There’s so much to do and see and mostly I just love being able to go out on the town with my folks. I do so much to make my owners happy that they can’t leave home without me. And in Sarasota, they don’t have to!
About the author: Gracie is a Florida Brown Dog (aka shelter rescue, mixed breed) who loves and lives with her brother Astro (Blue Heeler who mostly just sheds a lot).