“You’d love Asheville, North Carolina,” several people told me. “It’s really dog friendly,” internet reviews said.
How true both statements turned out to be.
On a dog-focused road trip south from Canada to North Carolina, somewhere in West Virginia I realized I missed calculated our journey – I was short a booked night’s stay. We needed to stop Saturday before checking into 4 Paws Kingdom Campground and Dog Resort on Sunday.
So… I grabbed one of two remaining rooms at the Red Roof Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. We’d been to the Biltmore House on our last five state road trip but missed downtown Asheville entirely.
It’s time. Asheville’s calling.
First moment we got there, we headed downtown – warning: parking spots are hard to come by especially on Saturday. I had no idea. But I was searching out what sounded like a beautiful unicorn: a four-level champagne bar and bookstore that’s entirely dog-inviting. I found it. Check it out here.
The next morning – energized after a night’s rest – Sunday brunch was on the menu.
Back downtown we headed after checking out two west-end staples with dog-friendly patios: Biscuit Head and West End Bakery. Both were full – the first with a line-up around the corner. My dog Victor doesn’t do well in crowds; I don’t do line ups.
I do do lunch on the patio (although Victor was allowed to sit inside if we wanted) at Battery Park Book Exchange, only after stumbling into (or through) The Dog Door.
The Dog Door is an open space on one side (and a place to use a public bathroom with your dog), a store on the other side with an adjacent therapist-like meeting room: that’s where the magic happens. The Dog Door is first a training centre based on consultations with owner Kim Brophey, who literally wrote the book on dog behaviour called Meet Your Dog. (Amazon affiliate link).
Recently released, the book claims to be a ‘game changer’ in understanding your pet pooch based on the characteristics of their breed and an awareness of the environment we’re creating.
But we’re not there for a consultation – we didn’t know about it until we walked through the door. We’re there to take a break from the heat and stimulus of outside (something The Dog Door encourages people to do). I get handed a Dog Door Four-Legged Tourist Guide: a two-side piece of paper listing all the stores, restaurants and breweries pet-friendly both inside or out.
“We plan to soon start canine walking tours,” staff say, “that end at the Twisted Laurel, a downtown café with a dog-food menu.”
We don’t find the Twisted Laurel on our walk, but do find three book stores within walking distance of each other including…
- the dog-friendly Downtown Books and News on Lexington Avenue
- many unique themed cafes
- organic or fair-trade clothing stores that let me wander in with Victor
- and a Three Dog Bakery on Battery Park Avenue where I buy Victor two fancy cheese-flavoured cookies (that he doesn’t eat).
Shopping has never been easier with the dog, more interesting or punctuated by as many street performers in one place. My favourite was ‘The World’s Most Okayist Poet’ who’d type you a poem on a manual typewriter … while you wait. There was a line-up, so we didn’t.
Asheville is dog-friendly …. Really pooch positive.
“Now that’s a cute dog,” a young boy with him mom shouts at me along the street. Who doesn’t love that? People ask questions – mostly, what kind of dog is he? – and ask to pet him … often. Really often. There’s also a lot of other dogs sneaking up on Victor too, primarily because he’s losing his hearing.
We’ve been on the road for days now, no bath time in the hotel. With people – often kids – stopping to cuddle my pup, I’m a little concerned with the state of his coat. I’ve learned from past mistakes and brought along Espree dry dog shampoo to see how it works.
Following the instructions, I spray Espree Oatmeal Baking Soda Dry Dog Shampoo on his coat and brush it through. What happens?
It works well, I have to admit. It’s a dry spray that startles the dog a bit but goes on easily. A few brushes (remember to bring one) and my dog’s curly black poodle-like fur is softer and fresher, but not overly fragrant.
This product is staying in the car with me. Great for quick spruce ups before visiting people too.
For now, we’re off to meet the people of Asheville.
TRAVEL GUIDE: Downtown Asheville, NC – Head to downtown Asheville earlier than later, because parking is hard to find. When you get there, check out: Battery Park Book Exchange, 1 Page Street; Twisted Laurel, Downtown Books & News, 67 N Lexington Ave.; Three Dog Bakery, 21 Battery Park Ave., and The Dog Door, 1 Battle Square.
Off-leash parks: one at French Broad River, 270 Depot Street and Azalea Dog Park, Azalea Road East.
Greyline Trolley Tours offers hop-on-hop-off tour of Asheville. Dogs less than 25 pounds able to sit in your lap are welcome to join the 75-minute round-trip tour.
Accommodations: The Red Roof Inn, 16 Crowell Road, Asheville, North Carolina, like all Red Roof Inns, is pet-friendly.
Check out The Biltmore Estate and Gardens for more dog-friendly fun.