Photo courtesy of Lauren Dobish Photography.
I’m Jenna Donleavy, a travel-obsessed dog mom living in Boston, MA. I rescued my first dog, Bear, in 2014, shortly after graduating college. After falling in love with his picture on PetFinder and picking him up off the Arkansas to New England transport, I fell in love all over again. Shortly after he arrived in Boston, he got sick—really, really sick. He was diagnosed with parvovirus and luckily survived the disease after winning an uphill battle.
After he recovered, I immediately became entrenched in rescuing dogs. I really wanted to help pups like Bear who were born into less fortunate situations. I spent tons of time at our local dog park, dog events, and nearly all of the dog-friendly activities in Boston, fully immersing myself in the pet industry.
Eight short months later, I saved Knox, a Golden Retriever/Yellow Labrador mix, from a terrible breeding situation in western Massachusetts. It’s safe to say he’s been quite the handful—but he absolutely loves being outside where he gets to swim and explore. When he finally runs out of all that energy, he cuddles up to all the humans who love him.
Fun fact: I’ve dubbed Knox “Knaughty Knox” because more often than not, I come home to discover a chewed-up sock, remote, toilet paper roll—you name it. He loves to sink his teeth into anything he can find on the counter.
And if living in a high-rise apartment with two young pups wasn’t hard enough, I decided to explore the idea of adding a third one to our pack. Because what’s one more, right? My boyfriend and I found ourselves browsing Petfinder once again and stumbled upon Hunny, who was the last of her litter to leave Ward Animal Shelter. We emailed the shelter representative, and from there made the adoption official. Harper (yes, we changed her name) came to us in June of 2015—and the rest is history!
Over the past 3 years, we’ve never let our pack of doggos slow us down. As a matter of fact, we’ve traveled with all three dogs more often than not. And while we mostly like to stick to the New England area, we’ve gone as far as North Carolina—though the jury’s still out on whether we’ll make such a long road trip again. Our favorite places to visit are Vermont, Nantucket and Cape Cod because they’re all so dog-friendly. When we aren’t jet-setting to different locations, you can find us exploring our city and attending different dog events. Here are our top five favorite dog-friendly activities in the Boston area:
1. Brunch at Bar Boulud at Mandarin Oriental hotel, 776 Boylston St., Boston, MA
During the summer months, Bar Boulud offers a “pup-inspired” dining experience on their outdoor patio called #BarkBoulud. I love taking the dogs there for brunch, where they get to nosh on some delicious fare from the Canine Café Menu. Added bonus: there’s a great photo- op when the staff brings out their signature French-inspired dog accessories. Even better, the human meal is equally delicious!
2. Hiking at Cat Rock Park, Weston, MA
Cat Rock Park always guarantees a tail-wagging good time. Located about 30 minutes west of the city, you can expect hiking trails, a large pond where pups are doggie-paddling and sneaking in a few good games of fetch, and a large field full of four-legged friends to play with. Be warned: You’ll be leaving with a very tired (and probably very dirty canine).
3. Yappier Hour at the Liberty Hotel, 215 Charles St., Boston, MA
Is there anything better than a cold one after work? The answer is yes! At Yappier Hour, pups and their parents are invited for cockTAILS, treats, doggie playtime, plus mingling with the two- legged attendees during the dog events held throughout summer. Think, “A dog park with a bar,” as many describe it.
4. Treats from Polkadog Bakery, 256 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA
Polkadog Bakery, also known as “doggie nirvana,” offers handcrafted biscuits, dehydrated treats, and birthday and holiday cakes, as well as an abundance of natural dog bones and chews to keep the pups occupied and prevent them from chewing on anything in your home. I can assure you it is a Knox-proof plan! While I love to go to Polkadog’s South End location, there are a slew of locations around the city.
5. Dinner at Coppa, 253 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA
At the end of a weekend full of dog-friendly activities, I love having an early dinner at a super-trendy Italian bistro called Coppa in our neighborhood. Pets and their parents are allowed to dine on the outdoor patio when the weather is nice, and the friendly staff is prompt in bringing out fresh water bowls for their panting guests. And FYI: Coppa is conveniently located right across the street from Polkadog Bakery, so if your dog can’t resist your charcuterie or Cavatelli con Pollo, walk across the street and grab them a treat of their own.
For more on dog-friendly activities and travel, check back each week for pro tips and tricks!