Lots of areas market themselves based upon how pet-friendly they are. Locally, visit Loudoun, billed as “DC’s Wine County” has become quite active in touting the pet-friendly nature of what’s available here, too, listing dozens of trails, shopping areas, resorts, and popular destinations such as wineries that welcome dogs, and in some cases … cats. Yes … cats.
And, why not? People relate to each other through their animals. And, nothing feels better than having people comment on how gorgeous your dog is … or how they had the same kind of dog growing up. Dog and cat love creates good will between a business and its customers, too – especially in a place like Loudoun County, where barns, farms, and wide open spaces meet great places to stay, spend, get active, or just relax.
Visit Loudoun Media Manager Jennifer Buske-Sigal notes that both Salamander Resort and Spa and Lansdowne Resort are dog-friendly. At Salamander, certain rooms are outfitted for a doggie stay, complete with a dog bed, food and water bowls, organic treats, toys and waste bags. The resort also features a Yappy Hour, the profits from which are donated to the Middleburg Humane Foundation. Lansdowne offers what it calls a Pampered Pups Dog Friendly Package. And hundreds of places welcome dogs for shopping and for visiting.
For example, the Loudoun County Bed & Breakfast Guild profiles dozens of beautiful properties for a weekend stay, a casual brunch, special event, etc. Many of these are also dog friendly (see www.loudounbandb.com); and travel websites identify two dozen or more pet-friendly national chain hotels and motels in Loudoun, as well.
Destinations familiar to visitors and locals alike are also getting on the pet-friendly bandwagon. Great Country Farms has a new facility where dogs can run free. The half-acre area includes a doggie wash station and access to a pond – all that is required is a willing dog and the supervision of its owner. Oatlands Plantation has hosted many dog walks in combination with tours of its magnificent grounds.
Wineries are also more and more pet-friendly. Several with that distinction include three in Delaplane: Aspen Dale Winery, Barrel Oak Winery, and Three Fox Vineyards. One travel writer notes that miniature horses and goats also roam the Aspen Dale property. Three Fox Vineyards actually allows both dogs and cats, and has a monthly drawing for dog or cat of the month, complete with prizes. Breaux Vineyards (with its Dog Days events) and Northgate Vineyards – both near Purcellville, and Fabbioli Cellars and Stone Tower Winery near Leesburg are all in for the furry ones, too. Northgate promotes greyhound rescue with its Greys and Grapes events.
Another great Loudoun destination, 8 Chains North Winery near Waterford, boasts the first enclosed dog park in the county, and has gone so far as to enlist Fido in service to cats. On September 10 it will hold the 3rd Annual Wine and Walk to benefit the Loudoun Community Cat Coalition – a great day that includes not just wine, but music, trivia, vendors, a food truck, prizes, and more.
And then there is the dog-friendly LoCo Ale Trail, providing dog friendly hiking, and opportunities to sample local beers. Lots of local parks and family trails are pet-friendly, too, and they go to great lengths to welcome you, and keep both you and your pet safe. Seasoned dog walkers and hikers are told that it’s just as important to equip your pet as it is to equip yourself – with water, a leash, waste bags, basic medical supplies, foot pads if needed, etc. The Olde Izaak Walton Park in Leesburg features a spacious dog park, including a special area for small dogs. There are different rules, of course, for national parks, national forests, state parks and recreation areas, town parks, private trails, national battlefields, the C&O Canal, and the like. But information abounds on the websites for all of them. A good place to start is the website of the Appalachian Mountain Club, www.outdoors.com.
And, here’s a tip: Dog owners, including myself, are famous for fawning over their pets. When traveling with them, even if you’re just going for a walk through a park, take the basics with you, including the water, leash, etc. It’s also a really good idea to have a picture of your dog with you – on your phone or tucked in your wallet. This offers great piece of mind should Fido wander off, or you otherwise get separated. And, keep the number for Loudoun County Animal Services handy to report any lost pets – 703-777-0406. They can also direct you to the closest emergency vet, should that need arise. Enjoy!