Thursday, May 27, 2010

Signature Dog Blog: Dog Friendly Mini-Getaway Weekend Ideas

Hotel Monaco, Portland, Oregon

The first weekend getaway was a trip to Victoria on Vancouver Island. My husband and I took Roman and Madeline to Victoria and we stayed at the Magnolia Hotel. This is a great little boutique hotel … with an awesome restaurant and bar in the lobby. The restaurant is called Prime Steakhouse and was very good. The service was good too. In fact, we ate there both nights….which says a lot! This is a meat lover’s mecca, however, I am a vegetarian and I found plenty to choose from on the menu, including a great bottle of red from the Burrowing Owl Vineyard. The staff was friendly (on the younger side) and great to our dogs. There was no extra service charge for our two dogs – but double check when you reserve – in case that has changed. And no size restriction, which was great news because Roman weighs 85 lbs and Madeline, weighs 58. Most of the guests were in awe of our dogs – one couple (who incidentally had a screaming child) turned their noses up at us but that can happen anywhere. The hotel is centrally located near the busy downtown/inner harbor/Empress and you are less than 2 minutes walking distance to the water.

While we were there we took the dogs to Butchart Gardens, Beacon Hill Park and walking everywhere downtown. There were even several tourists who wanted to pose with Roman…kinda weird but we agreed of course. All in all it was a great trip and we are looking forward to returning again.

For any information on the Magnolia Hotel in Victoria here is the website:

The second mini-getaway weekend (also with both dogs) was to the Hotel Monaco in Portland, Oregon. We have actually stayed there twice now – both times with our dogs. I must say I love Portland. This is a great city to visit for shopping and restaurants. The people of Portland are the friendliest people I have ever met on any vacation. Portland is a very green city (which appeals to me) is super pedestrian friendly and the drivers actually respect the crosswalks and such. Portland honestly puts Vancouver’s drivers and hospitality to shame! The Hotel Monaco is an eclectic vintage-style luxury hotel that is also dog friendly. And there is also no restriction on size/weight of dog and no service charge for dogs either. Just make sure that you tell them you are bringing your dog/s when you reserve. When you arrive they actually will have your dog’s name up on a chalkboard welcoming them. So after a long drive it is fun to see a sign that reads “Welcome Roman and Madeline” it also gives you a chance to see how many other dogs are in the hotel (just in case you need to avoid other dogs). The shopping in Portland is fantastic including all the big US department stores of course but also lots of unusual boutiques and shops. And no sales tax. In terms of dining and going out – we stuck to the hotel’s bar and restaurant the Red Star Tavern & Roast House. The food is good and the drinks are AMAZING. If you are thinking of a getting away to the US to take advantage of our strong dollar – I highly recommend you check out the Hotel Monaco in Portland, Oregon.

Here is their web site:

Happy Travels!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Signature Dog Blog: An Excellent Read for Dog Lovers

Merle's Door is a most fantastic read for animal lovers...especially dog lovers. I am not going to give anything away in the book but I will say that I think we underestimate the intelligence in dogs way too much. Anyways, Merle's Door was given to me by a very good 'doggy' friend (thanks Carol) with the instructions that I would love the book and to have lots of kleenex handy. Well I did love the book and the kleenex was handy and needed. I finished the book in one day.

I typically do not read animal stories because they usually end badly but this is an amazing story that truly touched my heart. Merle's Door has been out for a little while so you should be able to pick it up almost anywhere in paperback. Sit back enjoy Merle's journey and those around him who he touched.

What a dog!

This is a great read for the long weekend!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Signature Dog Blog: Welcome to Dogwood Off-leash Dog Park, South Surrey, BC

Beautiful and friendly Madeline

Cozy clubhouse for meeting up with friends

This is now my third visit to the Dogwood off-leash dog park in South Surrey. While I am not an advocate of off-leash parks, this one has lots to offer and I find myself being drawn there again and again. And yes, I soon may be changing my tune about off-leash dog parks...mmmmmm.

The parking is plenty and the park can get quite busy (although it seems to come in waves) but there is lots of room and lots to do. Of course, in my opinion, the best thing to do at Dogwood is walk the trails with your dog. I had the best experience walking with Eva of Healthy Dog Services (one of several off-leash dog walkers that bring their dog clients to the park). Madeline, my Doberman (pictured above on one of the beautiful trails) and I joined Eva's pack for about an hour. It was great fun to watch all the dogs interact and the posturing and communicating they all do to let the other dog know where they stand (or don't stand for that matter). All the dogs got along really well! Eva had a great pack from a toy-sized dog to a pair of full-sized Huskies. The dogs chased, played and all greeted other dogs on the trails in a healthy way and it was so much fun to watch. If your dog loves mud - watch out there are some nice muddy/swampy areas throughout the trails.

In addition to walking the trails, there is a pond to play in (yuck) and lots of grassy areas for dogs to run around in. There is a covered clubhouse/shelter area (pictured above) and a bulletin board of dog information and related services. There is a corral-type area for dogs as well - but watch out if you have a little breed because they can escape. There are washrooms, water for dogs and benches to sit, relax and watch your dog socialize. So far, all the people I met were super friendly and did not get at all bothered by the site of my Doberman - which is nice because sometimes people can be really unkind to her for no reason as she is a well socialized friendly dog who would not hurt anyone - unless of course you are a burglar.

I would easily give Dogwood off-leash dog park a 9/10 rating and I plan to head back there on Friday if I can. Maybe I will become an off-leash dog park advocate yet...only time will tell.

Have a great day everyone!

Lee, Madeline and Roman