The following post was submitted by AndASmallDog.com “fan”, Sonja Lishchynski, the CEO of Paws ‘n Cause. She recently traveled with her small dog, Montecristo, to southern Florida.
Naples, Florida is one of those places that, as a Canadian you associate with the term Snow Bird. So, at the tender age of 37, it seemed that perhaps this was a slightly premature destination choice for my husband, our long haired Chihuahua Montecristo and me. But, when my cousin offered us her place near the Venetian Village for two weeks for free… adding the words “It’s really dog friendly” to her invitation – it was simply too good an offer to refuse.
Are we ever glad we went! Naples is a truly clean and lovely town, the older part is full of historic charm, and the entire place is really easy to navigate and by North American Standards it really is a “bring Fido” kind of town. They even have outdoor Dog Bars!
Recently, Naples, Florida passed a bylaw allowing restaurants, pubs and other food vendors with patios to decide for themselves if they want their establishment to be dog friendly or not. With only a few exceptions, we found that all the patios’ welcomed our little 2.38 pound Chihuahua with open arms, smiles and a nice cool bowl of water. It was truly a treat to be able to, like in Europe, go out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and drinks in the evenings with our little four legged tourist.
The stores are equally kind; asking mostly that you either hold your small dog in your arms, or at the least hold them on a leash. From the doggy boutique on 5th, to the outlet mall, to the art galleries on 3rd; everywhere we went people smiled warmly and in welcome. Everyone from the expected Snow Birds, to the locals and their families made all of us feel truly at home.
The one thing that “didn’t fit” with the dog friendly attitude was truly the “no dogs on the beach” law. That included all public and private beaches and the spectacular historic pier – Naples heart and soul. We managed to sneak Montecristo onto the beach later in the evening for a sunset or two – but this was a huge risk since the fine can be relatively hefty. After all breaking the law has consequences. (Editors Note: Sanibel Island isn’t too far from Naples and all the beaches on this small island are dog-friendly.)
What is on offer is a dog beach near Bonita Springs; a small strip of white sand surrounded by thick mangroves at the foot of a bridge. Here a lot of really big dogs run, play and cavort. Montecrsito was alarmed at the rush and amount of slobber present but soon, he was swimming in the ocean, and watching the dolphins in the distance with us until the sun set. Bonita Springs is about a 30 min drive from Old Naples and well worth it if you wish to spend a day on the beach with your dog. It’s free, and it’s self “policed”. Bags are provided for picking up your dogs waste, although brining your own is a good idea since they run out frequently. A special bin is available for disposal.
As our stay came to an end, we visited our friend at the “The Villagio Cafe” one last time. This coffee house in the Venitian Village not only had great java, but the owner was beyond dog friendly, bringing Montecristo treats and putting cool fresh water in the bowl daily. We would often grab a sandwich there, with the little one at our feet, enjoying the sun overhead, the glimpse of the large pelicans flying by and the water fountains spurting their dance to some pre-christmas jingle.
We left Naples, swearing we would visit again; soon.
Thank you, Sonja, for your contribution!
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