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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Walker Bios Update and Other Doggy Goodies

We have been updating walker bios on our website. Possessing an assortment of hobbies (bowling, biking, drumming, and more), they’re a diverse and interesting pack. Take a peek if you’re curious about who’s walking those pups around Chicago.

Remember when we posted our New Year’s Resolutions and Petsolutions? One of our resolutions for Chicago was to make it a No #2s Left On the Ground City. Shortly after that post, we found an episode of This American Life, which talks about people hiring companies that test the DNA of dog leavings to catch owners not picking up after their pets. Click here to listen to the episode. What are your thoughts on this type of procedure? Agree? Disagree? Already use it?

Keeping with the topic of New Year’s Resolutions, if you made a commitment to get in shape and need help tracking your progress, we found an app for you and your pup: MapMyDOGWALK. As the name suggests, you can map and save your routes to see how fast, far, and long you walked or ran. This way you can decide how much difficulty you want to put into your dog walks each day. We’d love to know your thoughts on this app or a similar one you have used. We enjoy technology that we can share with our pets and eagerly await the translating collar, as seen in the movie Up.

Comment here or @Chicdogwalkers on Twitter.

Weather Outside is Frightful, but My Attire is so Delightful

Temperatures drop. Snow falls. People bundle up — some of them. Having walked through several winters with our furry friends, we’ve seen an array of outfits used to ward off Jack Frost. While some clothing choices are sensible to us, others leave us scratching our heads. Below we offer our views on three common styles. We also recommend a dog that accents each type, although walking most dogs will make you more appealing.

Style I: What’s Winter?

It’s twenty degrees. Your nostrils sting when you inhale. Your breath eddies, almost sparkles, about your head. And this person wears shorts, a T-shirt, possibly an unzipped jacket. Control your urge to check this person’s pulse. Accessories include thin gloves, sometimes fingerless, a baseball cap, low-top sneakers and knee-high crew socks. You might even catch the What’s Winter type in sandals — sandals and a few piggies short of a whole foot. Maneuverability is gained in this attire at the risk of a little thing called frostbite.

Dog accent: A golden retriever’s bright coat helps the illusion of warmth.

Style II: Knight in Shining Armor 

Unless you’ve survived a midwest winter, you might not know that the cold can burn like dragons breath and scratch like daggers. The Knight in Shining Armor has prepared for battle. Boots, snow pants, a thick jacket — the more poof the better — gloves like oven mitts, scarf, ski mask, winter hat, two, three, four pairs of socks, long underwear. Similar to a knight’s creaky armor, Style IIs crinkle and rustle with every movement. While picking up a dog leash in this outfit can pose troublesome, it offers the warmth of a polar bear hug.

Dog accent: Any small dog wearing a similarly bulky jacket and booties.

Style III: Upper-Downer

The Upper-Downer is a conundrum. This person dresses only half of his or her body, either top or bottom, for the weather. Shorts and a down jacket? Sure. Snow pants and a T-shirt? You bet. Hat, mittens, scarf, shoes without socks? Why not? Maybe the Upper-Downer has a magnificent internal body heater that is confined to half of his or her body. Maybe they are products of laziness or forgetfulness. Or maybe it’s something else entirely. We’re at a loss to explain this one.

Dog accent: A poodle with a shaved body but hairy head and legs. Fluff on the end of the tail is optional.

Again, these are three among many styles of winter fashions. Know more, have a favorite type, or have an answer about the Upper-Downer, tell us in the comments section below or tweet us @Chicdogwalkers with the hashtag #wintfash. And remember to avoid moister-sucking cotton in the frigid season!