Letting Loose: Dog Days of Summer (almost) at Woodhaven Country Lodge

dog on chair at cottageWeekend with the dogs. Best idea ever.

Only thing is, I don’t have a cottage. So, I’m renting at Woodhaven Country Lodge in Ontario, Canada. (UPDATE: Unfortunately, as of Fall 2021, Woodhaven is no longer open)

The minute I arrive, owner Michael walks me through the door and says, “Don’t worry about them jumping on the couch and bed,” pointing to my dogs. “I don’t care about things like that.”

Clearly, I’m in the right place.

Woodhaven Country Lodge is near Buckhorn, Ontario deep in the heart of Kawartha’s Cottage Country north east of Toronto. Woodhaven isn’t just dog-friendly, it’s for the dogs. Well, it’s for people … with dogs.

“You don’t have to have a dog to stay here,” Michael says. “But we make it clear, there are dogs here.” Very clear. In fact, I first learned about the lakeside wooded cottage resort at Woofstock, an annual Toronto dog festival. Resident dogs, a lab, Rottweiler, and bichon, live at the lodge, but don’t mingle with the guest dogs.


Prior to my visit, I get bumped up from a lodge suite to Jill’s Cottage, one of seven options here. Some units are part of the main lodge where some breakfasts and dinners are served. Jill’s cottage is self-contained, has two bedrooms, a full kitchen, sitting area and deck with barbeque and hot tub. Perfect.

Hand-painted images of dogs surround the bedroom mirror. A painting of pugs peek out from behind a re-purposed window frame and dog-print oven mitts hang in the kitchen. Most importantly, the treed lot off the deck is entirely fenced, so the dogs race in and out the back door freely.

Of course, my dog Victor is here, along with his best canine buddy Sasha, a lab mix. We’ve got Sasha for a week, so what better time to book 72 hours of doggie bliss all together? (During peak summer, the cottage rents for a week minimum).


Three days with two dogs, in the woods, near a lake, with a stack of books.

End result? Best long weekend yet.

Not only can the dogs run in the backyard, chasing chipmunks and barking at wild turkeys outside the fence, they have the run of the property off leash along some trails. We walk the kilometre-long drive into the property and pathways leading to the lakeside dock and a deck over looking the water. We’re particularly lucky here during ‘shoulder season’ because we’re the only guests for three days.

Several times a day, we walk through the property, the dogs running, sniffing and curious … a bit too curious. At one point, Sasha barks furiously at something new and Victor starts running in her direction.


Guess what it is? A porcupine. I was warned to watch for them, and skunks, and this one is hanging out close to the lodge. I wave my arms in the air, calling the dogs, then run the other way. Fortunately, both think chasing me is more fun than learning the hard way – apparently, quill extraction at the local clinic starts at $600.

From then on, we stick mostly to the pathways and spend time on the dock where Sasha, true to her lab roots, jumps in the lake every time. Every time.

Guests can take paddle boats, canoes and kayaks onto Lake Buckhorn, sometimes perfectly calm and sometimes wavy. It’s near the stand-alone cottage available for rent. All are dog friendly. Everywhere is dog-friendly.

“When I first bought the place, we had five golden labs,” Michael says. “It made traveling and visiting difficult. So, I thought, people need a vacation place they can bring the dogs with them.”


Hands down, the best quality time I’ve spent with the dogs in ages.

But here’s the kicker: before we arrived, Victor’s eye infection wasn’t healing and the Vet found several swollen lymph nodes – not a good sign.

While here, I’m waiting on a veterinary oncology report.

That’s one reason I wanted several days of quality uninterrupted time with Victor, free from the distraction of everyday life and watching him play unrestricted with the buddy who taught him to be a friend. Thanks to dog-friendly Woodhaven, mission accomplished.

But not only did I have quality time with Victor, he had quality time with me. Free from stress, the morning rush, playing beat the clock and minor annoyances. Two full days of decompression, unplugged and entirely dog-focused. Victor focused.

I hope to be back, with both dogs especially Victor. Hopefully.

[Update: Find out Victor’s Test Results Here!]




  1. […] years ago, I discovered this place with my previous dog and his buddy – check it out here – and we stayed in Jill’s Cottage, the one with the largest fenced […]

  2. […] Pet Bed sits in the office, because Daisy wants it there. Although, the next time I take Victor to Woodhaven Country Lodge in Ontario cottage country or 4 Paws Campground in North Carolina, it’s coming with […]

  3. […] This time, we’ve got a destination: We’ll be chill-laxing and playing in the leash-free run at a dog-focused camp ground in North Carolina. (check out our previous success in Northern Ontario). […]

  4. Wow what a great looking place! I’m glad you and your furry friends had a good time. Also glad to see your baby’s test results came out ok.

    1. Thanks! now he just has to finish his antibiotics

  5. This sounds like heaven for dogs and their owners! I tend not to go away, because “who’s going to take care of the dogs?” or, it’s somewhere we can’t take them with us. I could see myself going to a place like this, relaxing and chilling out with my dogs. I guess my only concern is when they get into their busy time, just how many dogs are there and have they ever had issues with off leash dogs – that’s always my concern. I’m glad you were able to spend some quality time with Victor, and I hope I will get to see you at Woofstock this weekend!

    1. That’s one of the reasons the owners created the place – so more people could get away. I hope to get there this summer so I’ll see what it’s like with more people and dogs – that’s something I thought of. But there’s only 7 units. Yes, I’ll be at Woofstock first thing Sat. – got a VIP pass too!

  6. impurrfectlife · · Reply

    So glad you had a great time at Woodhaven. Having a getaway from life’s stresses is necessary at times. It’s helpful for us to decompress and reboot. So glad your trip was successful. Beautiful peaceful pics.

  7. So glad you had a successful trip to Woodhaven and had a chance to unwind a little bit. We all need a getaway from life’s stresses for sure. Gives us a chance to reboot and come back stronger. Looks beautiful and peaceful there.

  8. This sounds a little like a doggie and person heaven! What a great getaway and to spend some quality time with the dogs! I also read the good news, yay!

    1. Thanks. I am relieved but my poor guy went through a lot of tests.

  9. What a lovely dog-friendly place. I’m glad no one had an encounter with the porcupine and the test results came back with no cancer!

    1. Yes, thanks. You noticed that. It was tense.

  10. It sounds like heaven, a place that I would love and oy vey most probably would not want to leave either. The thought of sitting on a porch forgetting the world and watching nature is something I dream of. Sending prayers your way for Victors health.

    1. What I loved most is no schedule … no where to be

  11. This title caught our eye because my town is Woodhaven! But this Woodhaven is very lovely. I would love to sit next to a lake with a stack of books – and no internet so I could totally relax.

    1. Well, they do have internet there… but you don’t have to use it.

  12. This sounds like a great place to visit! So glad you didn’t need to pay $600 for a vet bill to remove porcupine quills. Sending best wishes for Victor.

    1. Thank you. The lodge owner told me they don’t let their Rotti run off leash anymore because he got quilled four times last year. Four times! He didn’t learn.

  13. “Three days with two dogs, in the woods, near a lake, with a stack of books.” Well, that sounds amazing! I would love to find a similar place in my area. So many places that advertise as dog friendly aren’t really so dog friendly and have so many rules that it’s almost not worth it. The Woodhaven Country Lodge sounds like a true gem!

    1. It was excellent. And the main rule is, ‘come here and expect to share your experience with dogs’

  14. […] week, I spent quality time with my precious Victor at the dog-friendly Woodhaven Country Lodge in Ontario, Canada chasing chipmunks, wading into the lake and waiting on an oncology […]

  15. Anonymous · · Reply

    what a great place. will definitely be looking at booking something in the fall. maybe get some fishing in as well. PS. Cute dogs….as always very privileged and spoiled.

    1. Fall would be ideal there

  16. Wow, that looks like a lovely place to stay. Hope it was relaxing even though you were waiting to hear from the vet.

    Sending well wishes for Victor’s health.

    1. Thank you!

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