Carmel, California, has been designated as the most dog-friendly city in the United States. In my travels, I have to say that it may well be the most dog-friendly city in the world. Dog-friendly restaurants abound, as dog dog-welcoming hotels, stores, and parks. There’s even a gorgeous white sand beach where good dog can go leash-free. I’m always very happy when I get to visit Carmel for the updates for my book, The Dog Lover’s Companion to California.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Carmel Mayor Sue McCloud, one of the most dog-loving mayors you’ll ever come across. In fact, my husband and I produced a short video about her dog, Robbie, and a day in his fun life in Carmel. The Smiling Dog Films production debuted at Carmel’s city hall to a standing-room-only audience. (The link to the video leads to a shorter and for some reason low-vide0-quality version of the film. Not enough time to get the Mr to give us a better version. BTW that’s Jake and me coming out of the pretty inn at :14.)
Carmel should serve as a model for any community that aspires toward dog friendliness. It’s not dirty or crazy because of the dogs. In fact, quite the opposite. But I’ll let Robbie tell you about it. (He had a little help from the mayor with things like syntax and typing…)
My name is Rob of Dunvegan, or Robbie for short, or Stop it Robbie when I am acting too terrierish. I am a 5 year old Dandie Dinmont terrier and I live with the Mayor in Dog Heaven on Earth, better know as Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. The seat of the Mayors Scottish Clan is Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye; hence, my name.
For those of you unfamiliar with Dandies, we are the only breed named after a character in a novel: Guy Mannering by Sir Walter Scott. We come in two coats mustard (thats me) and pepper, which just happens to be the title of the breeds magazine. To me it is just another object to push around the floor and bark at. But I am getting off the subject as I do like to talk about myself.
The first time I became aware of my mustard colored coat is when the Mayor and I were walking by the Bernard Maybeck designed City Library and a woman stopped us to ask about me. She wanted to take a cutting of my coat to her hair salon as it was the color she had been trying for. On my walks around town I keep my eye out for a woman whose hair is the color of my coat, but so far have not seen her!
Carmel is about 120 miles south of San Francisco on the California coast. Its population is little over 4,000 of the two legged variety and almost 900 of the four legged (one third of our households have dogs). There are about 2,000,000 million visitors a year and many bring their dogs as Carmel inns (25 permit dogs), restaurants (over 20 have outside areas for dogs) and stores cater to them. The Forge in the Forest restaurant even has a dog menu fit for the most discerning appetites. In this one square mile European style village there is much to tempt canines and their human friends.
First, is the one mile long Carmel Beach with its white sands. There are all kinds of dogs from Irish Wolfhounds to Yorkshire Terriers to play with and even the occasional horse and rider outrunning all of us. While you dont need to be on a leash, the City requires that you are under voice command and that your human companion carries mutt mitts to pick up after us. Do you know that Carmel spends around $12,000 per year to provide biodegradable mutt mitts for residents and visitors alike? Oh, and by the way dont let your companion leave the full mutt mitt bags on the beach but take them up to any of the cans which are at the top of all stairs to the beach. Also on the beach bluff is a walkway which runs a good portion of the beach. So if you are an older dog or one who may have to ride in wagon, you can easily enjoy the beach from the bluff pathway.
We really have fun at the beach when a high tide unearths one of the dead sea animals buried by the City. They are so much fun to roll around in. You should see the looks on the faces of our human friends when we rejoin them smelling like a garbage dump.
You may be interested to know that the only resident of Carmel to be buried within the one mile square is in fact a dogPal by name who was the town dog who could usually be found during the 1940s at the corner of San Carlos and Ocean Avenues where Kips Market was located for years. His portrait even greets you as you enter Council Chambers. He is buried in the grounds of the Forest Theater, the first outdoor community theater west of the Mississippi and the first in California.
Mission Trails Nature Preserve is about 35 acres and located across from the Carmel Mission. Dogs are permitted on the many trails and challenged by a variety of flora and fauna smells for those of us with an inquiring nose.
About five miles out the Carmel Valley Road is Garland Park which also has many trails and enticing smells. Dont forget that there are other denizens of the area both animal and avian. In the City of Carmel we have seen brown bears, wild turkeys, raccoons, deer, mountain lions and wild boar while on the periphery are California condors and all the sea animals visible from the shore: otters, seals, dolphins and whales.
But if you are a more citified canine, wandering around town on leash can also be fun. The stores, banks, etc. provide treats, even Tiffanys has a water bowl outside its front door and in the Carmel Plaza is the Fountain of Woof specifically designed for us to slack our thirst.
One of the favorites is the Cypress Inn co-owned by Doris Day where dogs can be found in the patio, at the bar and even resting in the lobby by the fire or while your human companion is enjoying high tea. Betty White is also a frequent visitor and strong supporter of animals and the SPCA. The annual Del Monte Kennel Club Show is Carmels version of the Westminster Kennel Club show. (Several judges come from this general area).
If you are used to going to church on Sundays, most of the churches in Carmel have an annual blessing of the animals. And boy does Carmel know how to put on a parade for humans and four legged critters alike. In fact some of the breeds have their own annual events: the Cavalier King Charles beach party, the Doxies, Bernese Mountain Dogs and Bassetts, etc. The bassetts walk down to the beach from town, but rate a shuttle to take them back up to the starting point. Then there is the Citys birthday party and parade. Thats a doozer as it is always the last Saturday in October so everyone and their animals come in Halloween dress. I on the other hand rate a ride in the lead car with the Mayor! After the parade through town we all go back to the Sunset Center for hot dogs (the real thing) and all the trimmings, plus birthday cake and entertainment.
So maybe you can understand why Carmel-by-the-Sea has won so many dog friendly awards. If you have any further questions, I can be found at City Hall snoozing through meetings!