Downtown Goes to the Dogs

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Sirius Charlotte Luongo's Dog“You’re going to love your new home! Just think of all the friends you’ll make … And the fire hydrants! There are lots and lots of fire hydrants!”

So went the pep talk my human tried to give me on our move from the Hill Country to downtown San Antonio.

I’m afraid her tone wasn’t very convincing. I continued to stare despondently out the car window as rolling fields of wildflowers were replaced with concrete, glass, and steel.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Sirius and I’m a German Shepherd. That means I’m smart enough to know when I’m getting the short end of the stick. Up until this point, I had led the charmed life of a country dog. I had acres of land to run on, plenty of wildlife to chase, and nothing noisier to contend with then a pack of coyotes howling on the neighboring ranch.

Here I am in my old front yard. I don’t like to brag about myself, but everybody tells me I’m terribly handsome. Who am I to argue with them? Photo by Charlotte Luongo.

Here I am in my old front yard. I don’t like to brag about myself, but everybody tells me I’m terribly handsome. Who am I to argue with them? Photo by Charlotte Luongo.

But I knew what moving to the city meant. It meant being dragged around on a leash from one tiny patch of grass to the next. And no sooner would my “offerings” hit the ground then my owner would be scooping them back up again.

Then there is the matter of barking. A full-throated bow-wow could get my human slapped with a noise violation. Grrrr …. A city is no place for a dog.

Here I am in my new front yard just after we moved in. As you can see, it is a bit small. I was pretty upset about that at first. But then I discovered that much of downtown San Antonio could be considered my yard. Photo by Charlotte Luongo.

Here I am in my new front yard just after we moved in. As you can see, it is a bit small. I was pretty upset about that at first. But then I discovered that much of downtown San Antonio could be considered my yard. Photo by Charlotte Luongo.

But my human kept telling me that San Antonio is not your usual no-dog’s-land. In fact, www.dogfriendly.com lists San Antonio as one of the top 10 dog friendly cities in the United States. So I reluctantly decided to give the place a chance.

You know what I discovered? There is no end of fun things here for dogs to do, sniff, and chase! Here is a list of my favorite canine hangouts, events, and treats. (Note to my fellow metropolitan mutts: If you know of other great downtown dog resources, please have your human add a comment below.)

Places for Dogs to Go

My first few weeks in San Antonio were rough. My human used to take me everywhere when we lived in the country. We went to the hardware store, the post office, and even the bank together. Everybody knew me there and would give me treats. But here in the city, there are all sorts of rules against that kind of thing. I can’t understand why. I’m usually very charming and only try to bite people when I’m having a bad hair day.

Sign in King William Park for dogs and their human companions. Photo by Charlotte Luongo.

Sign in King William Park for dogs and their human companions. Photo by Charlotte Luongo.

The River WalkAfter moving here, my human would no longer take me to run errands and I no longer had a big open field to run around. Just when I began to worry that my physique would start to suffer, my human took me to the River Walk. Wow. This place is doggie paradise. So many things to smell! So many squirrels to lunge at! So many duck feathers to ruffle! And it is obvious that the planners of these extensions were mindful of their canine clientele: Mutt-mitt dispensers and doggie water fountains abound.

Here I am enjoying a refreshing drink from a considerately-low dog fountain. Photo by Charlotte Luongo.

Here I am enjoying a refreshing drink from a considerately-low dog fountain. Photo by Charlotte Luongo.

Chris Park:  Beyond the River Walk, I’m allowed in all the city parks downtown (on a leash, of course) as well as Chris Park, a hidden dog oasis on Camp Street off South Flores. There are super soft patches of grass to roll around in and plenty of shade that’s perfect for a quick nap if your human decides to stop and read a book on one of the many benches. It’s open 9 a.m.—5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Madison Square Park Dog Park: I can put up with my leash on most days, but sometimes I need to be free! That’s where Madison Square Park Dog Park over on 400 Lexington comes to the rescue. True, the park is only 0.65 acres, much smaller than my old yard, but the chance to get to play with new friends makes it worthwhile.

Lucy’s Doggy Day Care and Spa: Another place to make new friends and be leash-free for the day is Lucy’s Doggy Day Care and Spa (937 S. Laredo St.). It’s owned by my friend Lucy’s humans, and she’s obviously got them well trained. This place is arfin’ awesome! They’ve got a huge park with a doggie pool to play in. And my human likes the fact that she can use Lucy’s webcam to keep an eye on me. (It’s almost as if she doesn’t trust me.) Lucy’s also has groomers, dog washing stations, and boarding facilities. My human hasn’t made use of these services yet, thank goodness. One more thing: Lucy’s also has training classes … my human keeps threatening to sign me up for one … I have no earthly idea why.

Dogs having fun in the pool at Lucy’s Doggie Day Care. If I’m not mistaken, that’s me in the corner. Photo by Lucy’s Doggie Day Care & Spa.

Dogs having fun in the pool at Lucy’s Doggy Day Care. If I’m not mistaken, that’s me in the corner. Photo by Lucy’s Doggy Day Care and Spa.

Shopping! Humans aren’t the only species that like to shop. Dogs enjoy a little modern day hunting and gathering, too. Fortunately, San Antonians believe in canine-friendly commerce. For example, most shops in La Villita don’t mind if I pop in with my human (she always asks first to be polite, but who could say no to me?). Other places that your human can take you shopping include Market Square, SoFlo Market (1344 S. Flores, every second Saturday from 11am–7pm), Southtown Farmer’s Market (Blue Star Arts Complex, Saturday 9am–1pm), and Pearl Farmer’s Market (In front the historic Brewhouse, Saturday 9am–1pm).

Fellow San Antonian Benjamin Arseguel (a.k.a. Sam) out walking his three rescue dogs. Photo by Charlotte Luongo.

Fellow San Antonian Benjamin Arseguel (a.k.a. Sam) out walking his three rescue dogs. Photo by Charlotte Luongo.

San Antonio Nature Hounds: My humans did something extremely upsetting this week: They left me here at home while they went off to join some strange event called Something Monday.

I can’t imagine why they would ever want to do anything without me, so I sulked the entire time they were gone, but I shouldn’t have fretted so much.

While they were at the Something Monday event, they met an organizer of a group called the San Antonio Nature Hounds.

I liked the sound of that!

My humans told me that this group goes walking, camping, kayaking, rally training, and even partying with their dogs. Sign me up for that!

Doggie Treats

After all my play time, I get serious munchies. This leads me to yet another advantage of city-dwelling that I’ve found: gourmet dog treats.

Katie’s Jar: You already know that I’m a bit of a shopaholic. There’s a very good reason for that. I have discovered that most of the downtown outdoor markets sell food that is especially made for my kind. Take the Southtown Farmer’s Market, for example. Every week, this Beagle named Katie allows her human, Andrea, to go to the market to sell some of the treats that Katie is too full to eat. If I were Katie, I would put my paw down and demand that Andrea stop giving my treats away, but I guess Katie was taught to share as a puppy. Anyhow, Katie’s Jar treats are made with fresh, all-natural ingredients. My favorites are the empanadas. They are puro San Antonio!

PAWsitively Sweet Bakery: I pick up my other favorite treats at the SoFlo market. The folks at PAWsitively Sweet Bakery cook up the best herbal treats around. They have biscuit flavors like chamomile to help me calm down when city life gets a little too hectic. Another favorite is peppermint and parsley, which my human claims makes my breath smell a lot better (although I think my breath already smells fabulous, so I try to perfume my humans with it as often as possible).

Puppermint Dog Treats! One of my favorites! Photo by PAWsitively Sweet Bakery.

Puppermint Dog Treats! One of my favorites! Photo by PAWsitively Sweet Bakery.

Canine-Friendly Restaurants

Kibble is great and all, but a taco that a human accidentally drops is so much better! That’s why I try to get my humans to take me out to eat as often as possible. Here’s a list of downtown restaurants that I’ve learned dogs are allowed to visit. I’m sure this list isn’t exhaustive, so ask your human to add your favorite downtown dog-friendly restaurant in the comments. I’m always looking for new places to try out! Before you head over to any of these fine eateries, be sure to get your human to call ahead to make sure the pet policy hasn’t changed.

Achiote River Café, 600 E. Market.
Alamo Street Eat Bar, 609 S. Alamo.
Blue Star Brewing Company, 1414 S. Alamo.
Casa Rio, 430 E. Commerce.
Charlie Wants a Burger, 223 Losoya. (Note: This place has a dog menu! Woof!)
The Friendly Spot Ice House, 943 S. Alamo.

German Shepherd dog art at the Blue Star Arts Complex. Photo by Charlotte Luongo.

German Shepherd dog art at the Blue Star Arts Complex. Photo by Charlotte Luongo.

Guadalajara Grill (301 S. Alamo)
Guillermo’s  (618 McCullough)
Halcyon (1414 S. Alamo)
Houston Street Bistro (204 E. Houston)
Madhatters Tea House
(320 Beauregard)
La Frite (728 S. Alamo)
La Gloria  (100 E. Grayson)
La Margarita (120 Produce Row)
La Tuna Grill (100 Probandt)
The Luxury (103 E Jones Ave)
Ocho Lounge (1015 Navarro)
Original Mexican Restaurant (528 Riverwalk)
Rita’s on the River  (245 E. Commerce)
Stella Public House (1414 S Alamo)
Tito’s  (955 S Alamo)
Waxy O’Connor’s Irish Pub (234 Riverwalk)

Something Different

Sisters Grimm Ghost Tours  Everyone knows that dogs are much better than humans at spotting ghosts. That’s why the guides at Sisters Grimm Ghost Tours don’t mind it if humans bring their canine friends with them on the nightly ghost tours. My humans haven’t taken me on this tour yet because I spook pretty easily, but maybe they’ll change their minds if I keep eating my chamomile biscuits like a good boy.

RobiniArt  You’ve probably already noticed how incredibly handsome I am. It’s only natural that my humans would want to immortalize my image through art. That’s where the local artist Robin Arthur comes in. I met her at the SoFlo market where she is a regular vendor. She showed me some portraits she’d done of her dog Frank. Robin’s pet portraits are brightly-colored, whimsical nods to the Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos.  I got my human to commission a painting, what do you think? If you want Robin to paint your portrait as well, have your human call or email her (512-963-4892, robiniartist@gmail.com).

Sirius the German Shepard. Painting by Robin Arthur of RobiniArt.

Sirius the German Shephard. Painting by Robin Arthur of RobiniArt.

Charlotte and Sirius Luongo.

Charlotte and Sirius Luongo.

Sirius Luongo was born in the Hill Country just outside of Austin, Texas. He is certified in basic obedience and understands (but does not necessarily obey) commands in three different languages. Sirius spends most of his days herding his humans and guarding his house against a squirrel invasion. In his spare time, he enjoys digging holes, taking his humans on walks, and accepting compliments regarding how handsome he is.

Charlotte Luongo is a recent transplant to San Antonio. She arrived in December, 2012, by way of Austin, Morocco, England, Greece, and Virginia (she took a few wrong turns trying to get here). Charlotte holds a variety of degrees from the University of Sheffield, University of Bradford, and University of Texas in the impractical fields of osteology, paleopathology, and funerary archaeology. Despite these disadvantages, she managed to obtain a paying job as an executive editor of the science department at a small academic publisher. In her spare time, Charlotte enjoys cooking, gardening, engaging in hand-to-hand combat, and doing her taxes (okay, just seeing if you were paying attention).

 

Related Stories:

Stray Dogs & Cats: Why No-Kill is the Path Forward

The Feed: For the Dogs

Old Dog, New Tricks in “Champion” Film

Reflections of a Southsider Turned State Senator

On Becoming a B-cyclist: A Cautionary Tale

Hungover and Under in Tobin Hill: A Short Story

Where I Live: Lone Star / South Flores Arts District




There are 10 comments

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  1. Susan Athene'

    Hey Charlotte,
    Chico & Brindy said to tell Sirius “good job!” Woof!
    p.s. Don’t tell Sirius, but Chico is afraid to cross the Johnson St. bridge. We have lots of theories about why that is – he’s a pretty shy guy – but no solutions. Any suggestions?

    • Charlotte

      Hi Susan!
      You could try using a trail of yummy treats to lure Chico across the bridge. I’ve learned that, with Sirius, bribery gets me everywhere ;-)

  2. Janell

    Loved hearing how you felt about your new home Sirius. Telling your human that you heard The Cove is a nice dog friendly restaurant. It’s kid friendly, dog friendly and grownups will enjoy it to.

    • Sirius

      Thanks for the intel, Janell! My human says she’s been to the Cove and loves their burgers, but she claims she didn’t know they were dog friendly. Likely story. Thanks for enlightening her. I can’t wait to go!

  3. Inky Bones & Edoe

    We are so happy to hear of your successful transplantation to San Antonio! Inky Bones is heading to Houston Sept. 4-8 for a job interview, but I won’t be able to go as it’s a short trip. Also, age is starting to catch up with me so no more long walks these days. Wishing you every success in your new day job. Sending some Big Dog shoulder bumps to Sirius, whom I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting. And big hugs to you as I remember you and your big yard quite fondly. I got to watch while you and Inky Bones dug out foreign weeds from the property ;)

    Edoe & Inky Bones
    Tucson, Arizona

  4. Jane

    Hi Sirius. If Charlotte banks at Frost, tell her to take you through the drive-in on Travis. They almost always send out a doggie biscuit for me when they finish my mom’s transaction! Maybe they just like me and don’t do it for everyone, but it’s worth a shot.

    Your friend Micky

  5. Sirius

    Hi Micky,
    Thanks for throwing me a bone! My human James banks at the Frost on Travis Street. I think I can convince him to take me with him next time. After all, it’s important to provide the proper security during important financial transactions.

    Paws out,
    Sirius

  6. Terry

    Sirius this is SO helpful, thank you!
    A new FANTASTIC local place to eat is Tribeca on McCulough! The restaurant just opened up in Olmos Park and not only is the food absolutely farm-to-table fresh and delicious, but the staff is absolutely wonderful too. They’ve made us feel at home from the very beginning and told us we didn’t have to run off to walk the dog next time, we could bring our great dane Diesel in with us. We did and the owner, staff and patrons just loved it. I’m sure you would enjoy it too. Now I’m printing out this article so we can check out the rest of these places too ;)

  7. Hilda

    Also check out Boardwalk on Bulverde it’s pet friendly, Byob on certain nights, and taco trucks galore !! Free beer on Fridays as well !! Also plenty of dog parks in case you wanna try something new love the Phil Hardberger park.

  8. Dakota

    Hi Sirius, my big handsome hero! Your portrait rocks and Robin captured all the fun that is you, the Dog Star! I’m glad to read about your new digs, even though I truly miss you and our walks in the neighborhood, and especially cooing at the fence. You have done a marvelous job of scoping out your new neighborhood and discovering amazing places. Now I’m begging mom to take me to see you, just me and not those other two, and maybe we can stroll down the River Walk, or romp around Madison Square Park Dog Park, and who knows, perhaps we can share a Puppermint Dog Treat. You always did know how to make me drool! Keep up the good work, Sirius, and I’ll look forward to reading more.

    Your not-so-secret admirer,
    Sweet Dakota


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