Delightful Weather, Delightful Destinations

Warm weather and no place to take your pooch? Fret not. Here’s a short list of dog-friendly places to explore.

Montrose Beach

Location: Wilson Ave and Simonds Dr

Trade walking on hard concrete for a day of sand sifting between your toes and your dog’s paws. Listed as one of the best dog beaches in the U.S. on the Travel Channel website, $5 buys you a tag to enter the dog-friendly areas for the day. The premises are cared for by members of MonDog (Montrose Dog Owners Group), who actively seek volunteers to assist their mission of maintaining a safe place at the beach for pets and their owners.

Jake’s Pub

Location: 2932 N Clark Street

Enjoy suds with a few pals and your pooch at this tavern. Bring in your well-behaved buddy to meet the staff, who are as excited to see a furry friend as they are patrons. If you don’t have a dog or your pet is a little intimidated by public spaces, you can hang out with other dogs here, as the place often has at least one canine ambling around.

Valley Line Trail

Location: trail runs from 4400 W Bryn Mawr to 4400 W Devon

At 1.1 miles long, the trail is a bit short, but it’s an easy destination to seek out. Walkers share the trail with bikers and joggers, but the path is wide enough to give Fido plenty of room to enjoy him or herself. You can park in Sauganash Park and start from there. Trees line the majority of the trail, giving people the illusion of having escaped the city and entered the wilderness. Just ignore the car horns.

Lake County Forest Preserves

Location: 1899 West Winchester Road, Libertyville

Slightly off the beaten path for Chicago, but worth the trip if you want to visit a place with four dog-friendly and off-leash areas. Combined, the four areas have 190 acres of dog bliss. You will hear your dog’s jaw drop when you arrive. The trip is about forty-five minutes from the north side of Chicago, and the grounds open at 6:30 a.m. and close at sunset or 7:00 p.m., whichever comes first. You need to pay a permit price for each dog, but permits are valid for the calendar year. Your dog will thank you while she’s bounding through fields unobstructed by buildings and automobiles and pedestrians.

Trails Abound

Location: Illinois

While the forest preserves listed above has great open areas for dogs, the distance and price can be deal breakers. Luckily there are several lengthy and free trails around Chicago that offer scenic ventures. The Forest Preserve District of Cook County has an exceptional list with detailed maps for the curious. Two of the closer ones are the North Branch Trail System, which leads around the Chicago Botanic Garden at its north end and goes through Harms Woods at its south, and the Des Plaines River Trail; the latter runs along Des Plaines River from about North and 1st Ave to Lake Cook Rd. Go old school with a pen and paper or use your computer to begin mapping your alfresco adventures for the summer.

Know any spots for doggies not listed? Share them with us in the comments here, on Twitter, or Facebook.

UPDATE:

We found two lists from wonderful Yelpers, who rate a few dog-friendly venues in Chicago. Here’s one and here’s another. Thanks, Yelpers! Woof!

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Vote for Chicago Dog Walkers!

Summer is here and, with it, warm weather, added hours of sunlight, and your chance to vote for us in Chicago Reader’s “Best of Chicago 2012” poll. Not a member of the Chicago Reader? No worries. You can sign in as a guest and vote for over two hundred best-of categories, such as “Best chef,” “Best Bears bar,” “Best view of the city,” and, most importantly to your pup, “Best dog walkers.” You can find “Best dog walkers” in the “Goods & Services” section after logging in. Be sure to click “Save and Exit” at the bottom of the webpage when you’re finished! You can only vote once, but you may review and adjust your answers until the poll closes May 25 at 12:00 a.m.

Woof!

Rescuing Your Doggie Double

How often have you wondered if there’s a dog out there with your beautiful mug? Pedigree has been thinking of you. Hoping to help people find their doggie likeness in pooches who need homes, the company has developed human to canine pairing software, Doggelgänger. Click here to load the website.

The process is fairly straightforward. You can either take a photo with your computer and have the software scan it immediately, or you can upload a photo already on your computer. The former gave us better results. After the photo is taken and scanned properly, an automated voice tells you the photo is acceptable and an option to begin finding your match appears. Sometimes the software told us the photo was acceptable but would not give us the option to begin searching for our match, and we had to restart. This happened more often when we uploaded a photo. So there are a few hiccups in the process, but for free and well-intentioned software, this is fun.

We’d love to know your doggie likeness and what you think of Doggelgänger. Feel free to post photos and share links with us here, on Twitter, or on Facebook.