“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.
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.
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.
The River Walk: After 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.
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.
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).
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!
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).
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.
Guadalajara Grill (301 S. Alamo)
Guillermo’s (618 McCullough)
Halcyon (1414 S. Alamo)
Houston Street Bistro (204 E. Houston)
Madhatters Tea House
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)
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, firstname.lastname@example.org).
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).