True dog lovers see our furry companions as more than just house pets. Call us crazy, but we see our beloved pups as family members who deserve to be included in family photos for holiday cards, taken on vacation and brought along to hang out on the sidelines at our kids’ soccer games.
Kiera, Richter’s West Highland White Terrier, has become part of the writer’s family.
I confess I’m guilty of many extravagances when it comes to Kiera, my West Highland White Terrier. Perhaps its is because my mother forbade any type of pet that didn’t live in a fishbowl. Eventually, my two sisters and I simply gave up begging.
Not knowing the joy I missed out on, I eventually found myself balking at my children’s pleas, knowing full well whose responsibility the dog would become, promises to the contrary. Finally, I caved.
Nearly 14 years later, I cannot imagine our household without Kiera. She has been our stalwart through so many changes, and a comfort through the sadness of losing our parents and watching our children leave the nest.
So yes, she is part of the family.
A record 65% of American households owned pets in 2016, and spent $72.75 billion on pet products and services.
“A lot of people think of their dogs as their children,” says Nelda Corbell, manager of the Humane Society of North Texas Regional Adoption Center in Keller. “So they want to take them shopping, to restaurants and on errands like they do their children.”
A 2016 survey by the non-profit trade group, American Pet Products Association, a record 65 percent or 79.7 million American households owned pets. As a result, Americans spent $72.75 billion on pet products and services such as grooming, up from $38.5 billion in 2006 and $21 billion in 1996.
As pet ownership is growing so is demand for more services and pet-friendly opportunities for our furry companions. A 2016 ranking by the consumer website WalletHub, compared the 100 largest American cities based on factors such as pet budget-friendliness, number of veterinarians per capita and most pet-friendly restaurants and dog parks.
The top outdoor pet-friendly locales included San Francisco, Portland, Ore., Austin, Orlando and New Orleans. In those categories, Dallas ranked 81 and Fort Worth ranked 85.
Yet, even though the Dallas/Fort Worth area is lagging, local businesses and restaurants are stepping up to give us new ways to include Fido in the family fun.
At Shannon Brewery in Keller, Arlo (a German Shepherd-Golden Retriever mix), is owner Shannon Carter’s dog and the ambassador of “welcomeness” for all dogs. Carter says Arlo is his constant companion and the “brewery dog.”
“We are extremely dog-friendly and we encourage everyone to come out and bring their dogs,” Carter says.
On a recent crisp weekend afternoon, Jeff Winters of Benbrook brought his Yellow Lab Elli along to meet up with friend Casey Paine of Bedford and enjoy a couple of beers and the live music at the brewery. Paine, who uncharacteristically came along without his Black Lab, says Shannon is a favorite stop for him and Winters who seek out dog-friendly spots on the weekend.
“There’s a lot to do in Dallas and Fort Worth with your dog,” Paine says. “It’s getting better all the time.”
Besides dog-friendly restaurants and breweries, the two men take their dogs to Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day and other festivals so they can spend time with their dogs on the weekend since they can’t do it during the week.
Meanwhile, Wes and Ange Baumgarner arrived at Shannon with their 10-year-old daughter Gracee and their newly-rescued Huskies, Bowzer and Bella. Their experience with another family dog, who no longer gets out due to age and health, helped the Baumgarners identify many local dog-friendly establishments.
“We try to support dog-friendly places as much as we can,” says Ange Baumgarner. “We hope that by going to those places, it will encourage more places to become dog-friendly.”
More and more, restaurants that have a patio are willing to accommodate leashed dogs.
“We’ve been pet-friendly for about four years,” says Eddie Akin, manager of Jack & Grill on Oak Street in Roanoke. “More and more places around us are becoming dog-friendly, too.”
While most restaurants that allow dogs in outdoor eating areas provide water for the pets, only a few are going the distance to make them part of the dining experience.
At the recently-opened Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar, dogs can get a bite to eat along with their owners. The dog menu is still limited to either a hamburger patty and brown rice, grilled chicken and brown rice or just brown rice. But for Miles, a Maltipoo who accompanied owner Wendy Rainwater of Grapevine and her friend Stacey Morones of Hurst to brunch, that was an extra special treat. Miles continued to re-inspect his bowl to see whether more food might have mysteriously arrived while the two women talked.
“It’s nice to be able to sit and relax and know that your dog can be there with you,” says Rainwater of Grapevine.
Dogs are only allowed outdoors but Lazy Dog’s patio has tables surrounding a large, central fire pit. The patio has heaters to keep away the chill in the winter and large fans to cool the place down in the summer.
“The food is really awesome,” says Karen Carnera of Euless, who was dining recently with her husband, Seve, and their two bulldogs, Jet and Henry. “It’s a great place to come without the dogs but it’s even better because you can bring them along.”
At Pickles BBQ & Icehouse in Watauga, dogs are treated to their own “Lappy Hour” from 6 to 8 p.m. every Friday. Dogs are treated to free servings of “mutt loaf,” a staple of the restaurant’s dog menu, while their owners enjoy free music on the patio.
Pickles owner, Dana Shockey, has three rescue dogs of her own and supports several rescue organizations and local shelters. “We are very committed to being dog-friendly,” she says.
Besides restaurants, some stores also welcome dogs to accompany their owners while they shop. Stores like Home Depot welcome dogs and offer a bowl of water and a treat. Also, more and more cities are establishing dog parks to improve the quality of life for their dog-loving residents. Keller recently opened K-9 Pointe near Keller Pointe recreation center, featuring separate fenced areas for large and small dogs, water fountains, a shade pavilion and a variety of agility equipment.
Some local dog-friendly establishments:
Jack & Grill- 301 S. Oak Street, #100, Roanoke, 682-831-1177
Lazy Dog Restaurant- 2521 Highway 121, Euless, 682-738-0861
Pickles BBQ & Icehouse- 8247 Rufe Snow Dr, Watauga, 817-581-2009
Shannon Brewery- 818 N. Main St, 817-337-9892
The Local Watering Hole- 1632 Keller Parkway, 817-431-3203