Take your pooches with you around town
For Chattanooga to be such a mecca for active outdoor enthusiasts, I was surprised when I moved here to learn some huge outdoor venues, like the Sunday Chattanooga Market and Coolidge Park, did not allow dogs.
I totally understand that leashes or lack thereof, poop not being scooped and just all around irresponsible pet parents creates the limiting options for places to take your pup so I am not finding fault in those that don’t allow it.
However, it did motivate me to search who would embrace my fur friend like a member of the family. Indoor and outdoors, treats and trails—here are just a few highlights of where to spend your dog days of summer.
The Watering Bowl
With their newness, I feel like I would be stating the obvious and doing you an injustice by going into details on Play. Wash. Pint. I will say that I am excited they are here as it is a much needed service, ergo this article, so definitely check them out. But I will go into detail on a few other places that I did not expect to go above and beyond catering to the canines.
Old Chicago at Northgate Mall in Hixson hosts a Yappy Hour every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on their patio from Spring to Fall. Sponsored by PetSmart, a “Gourmet Doggy Buffet” is beautifully laid out on a custom-cut green turf tablecloth and is sure to allure all with the free beef or chicken flavored water, tennis balls, Frisbees and bandanas. Old Chicago goes the extra mile by providing a doggy menu that features chicken breasts and Angus beef burger patties.
If you donate any supplies off the McKamey wish list or make a monetary donation to McKamey during your visit, then you get a free appetizer card to use on your next Old Chicago visit. Hutton & Smith is the official beer of the event and offer several of their selections on tap as well as provide some swag like stickers.
Hair of The Dog, known for their excellent canine customer service and multilevel patio, was the most recommended spot when I casually asked around.
Barley on MLK was the second most recommended place as they have been dog friendly since they opened their doors almost a year ago. And just a few months ago, Barley partnered with Barley Bones dog treats to install a dog treat vending machine on premise so your dog can feel even more like a V.I.Pup.
A few runner ups were Universal Joint with their palacious patio and convenient grassy knoll, and the up and coming Basecamp Bar and Restaurant who hosted the first annual Head of The Pooch with McKamey.
Although Coolidge Park or the Sunday Chattanooga Market does not allow dogs, there are plenty of places that do welcome your canine companion. Most hardware or outdoor supply shops like Lowes, Home Depot, Bass Pro Shop, Academy Sports and Tractor Supply allow dogs in the store on leashes.
Old Navy, TJMaxx, Marshall’s and Michael’s are some retailers that surprised me with their dog friendly policy and these national retailers do not discuss breeds, age, service dog, seeing eye dog or emotional support in their rules; they simply state “dogs must be on leashes.”
The eclectic Tangerinas Gallery is known for their colorful pieces as well as their sweet shop resident, the bandana-bound Beagle mix Mr. Orange Juice, also known as Orange. Another Northshore dog friendly spot is Four Bridges Outfitters who frequently has at least one pooch on the stoop that may model or greet at their leisure. Four Bridges is also open to letting your dog try on any of the human clothing too!
For less retail and more trail in Northshore, venture just around the corner from there to Renaissance Park or Stringer’s Ridge. Both of these easily accessible locations provide beautiful scenery as well as a way to release some animal driven energy. Just a short drive away, lies more outdoor adventures at Harrison Bay State Park and Camp Jordan who have paved paths surrounded by nature.
For a bit more off-the-beaten path away from civilization but still close to town, Glen Falls Trail is not too difficult with its beautiful big boulders paving the way to a waterfall. Rainbow Lake Trail, which is over 100 years old, leads to Middle Creek which is a great place for the pups to swim and also has a waterfall.
Although the swing bridges on this trail may be difficult for some dogs, all the hikers are patient and willing to wait for your dog to overcome fears of the Rainbow (Lake) bridges.
About a half hour north from downtown Chattanooga, Big Soddy Creek Gulf is another easy trail that is great for dogs. On an old mining road with several little blue holes, you can easily cool off as one big pack.
Then a half hour west of downtown, is Little Cedar Mountain Trail tucked away right off 24 on TVA Road in Jasper. There are two options for this trail, the one-mile Pond Trail or the three-mile Loop, and either offer a view of the Nickajack Lake and Tennessee River Gorge.
Trying to give a variety of locations, I am just touching on some of these less likely known spots as I am sure there are tons. As our dog Allie was ten years old when we moved here, we did not have time to explore with her as we wish we would have before she passed at the age of fourteen. She did have the luxury of enjoying our 18-acre farm so taking her beyond that seemed kind of trivial and, before that, she had always been a beach bitch on the coast.
I did have the pleasure of taking her to Greenway Farms in Hixson, which is another top ranking recommendation that dog lovers gave me. The convenient location, good supply of ramps and shade made this spot a great first for Allie, although she spent most of her time looking for attention (and treats) from the humans. Like a good dog park should, Greenway has two separate fenced in areas, one for big and one for small dogs, as well as ample room for dogs to run fast and long distances.
The Chew Chew Dog Park, which gets mixed reviews, is another convenient location to allow your dog to roam, The Red Bank Dog Park is comparable to the Chew Chew Dog Park in that they both lack shade but it has received better reviews regarding fence maintenance and cleanliness.
Ain’t Too Proud To Beg
So after a day of exploring and behaving on and off the leash, what better way to end it than with a cold one and a treat, for both of you?! I am one who would not give table scraps directly from the table but would allow her to lick my dishes before they went to in sink.
We called our Allie “Cold Water” because she got those dishes as clean as cold water could get them. But for those who wish to keep your critter on a stricter diet, there are so many great local options for treats.
Ben, creator of Barley Bone Craft Doggie Treats, began the company because he originally wanted to start a brewery. By having an interest in making his own beer, he began researching all angles of the process including how the spent malted barley would be disposed of and then realized that this beer by-product could actually be used as a healthy ingredient in dog treats. Thus began Barley Bones.
One of Barley Bone’s top selling signature Farm To Treats is a beautiful pair of chicken feet and this was magic to my eyes. As I am a farmer, to see the whole bird used and hearing Ben’s story of decreasing waste within the beer industry, made me want to buy them even more and support his cause of making the world better and dogs happier and healthier.
To top it all off, Barley Bones are made in the USA and, according to the website, “Truly good enough to eat and human taste-tested.”
Although they are not made from scratch, beef flavored Puppy Bagels from Einstein Bros. Bagels are an option while on the go trying to grab a quick healthy snack. With locations in Hixson and on Brainerd Road, both have beautiful outdoor patios, provide bowls for water and are open year round.
I am not a fan of Starbucks but I do smile a little knowing that they offer Puppucinos made 100 percent with whipped cream for your early rising, much deserving dogs. Although the Puppucino is my favorite price, free, I would prefer to visit another local restaurant and offer my pup a treat in the shape of an ice cube or slice of cheese.
Rule of Paw
No matter where your best fur friend may travel to, be sure to follow a few rules that will make the world a yappier place. Clean up after yourself and your fur child. Ask to pet someone’s dog before going right up and putting your hands on them.
Know your dog’s limits and practice before you go public. Never leave your dog in a hot car. Always have a way to provide water to your hardworking hound. And although you may have to keep your dog leashed, that does not mean that the world should not be at their paws.