Say you’re a dog, and you find yourself visiting the Monterey Peninsula. Well hold onto your harness, ’cause you’re about to be one cared for canine! Make no bones about it, this is paws-down the best place to be a dog.
With pet amenities as far as the frisbee-tracking eye can see, you’re sure to find your happy place here. By no means an exhaustive list, here are some great ways to get started on your adventure. For more ideas, you may want to begin your walk around town at the Carmel Visitor’s Center in the Carmel Plaza, where Penny the Bichon Frise will set you on the right path, and even provide your humans with brochures and a free “Guide to Carmel” to thumb through. Before leaving the Carmel Plaza, stop and sip from the stone Fountain of Woof on the lower level.
The Peninsula features a plethora of dog friendly hotels, including 25 in Carmel alone. Famously known as simply “the doggy hotel,” the Cypress Inn provides its four-legged guests blankets and dog bowls at check-in, and a room service menu fit for a King Charles. And for the occasional daytime hours you’re asked to “stay” while your people participate in human-only activities, the area boasts some of the best boarding around. At Carmel Dogcare, Patty Royce and Carmine Esposito keep pooches entertained all day. You can expect to mingle with regulars and locals, sun on the spacious deck, romp on the property and even enjoy a walk on Garrapata State Beach. “It’s just the best life for dogs here,” says Royce, “because of the passion we all have for these incredibly healing creatures. They truly are the magic of this town.”
ROLL OVER, Run, Jump, and Play ~ Recreation
To literally unleash your wild side, you’ll want to visit the famous white sands of Carmel Beach, where dogs are free to frolic off leash. You’ll dig it! Back in town, just across from the Carmel Mission, you’ll be able to shed your leash once more as you enter Mission Trails Park, where you can sniff acres of Monterey Pine forest and California Coastal native vegetation to your snout’s content. If the weather’s uncooperative or you crave a more structured workout, California Canine in Pacific Grove rents gym time where you can blow off steam, practice agility, take a variety of group and private classes, or even book a party with your pack.
LIE DOWN ~ Relaxation
It wouldn’t be a luxury vacation without a spa treatment to wind down after your workout. Full-service pet spas abound, and they’re not just for grooming. At Stone’s Pet Wash in Pacific Grove, Lindsey Huffman offers massages and mud baths. “It’s great for dry skin, and it also really helps nervous pets calm down,” she says.
“Doggies comes through all day,” says Darcie Woods of Big Sur Canna+Botanicals in Carmel, which offers canines a different approach to calming down. “I love our regulars, like the tiny Chihuahua, Frito, and Murphy, the giant Irish Wolf Hound,” she says. The shop offers several CBD formulas for pets, to reduce anxiety and inflammation and to help them cope with high-stress situations like travel, teeth cleaning, or nail trims.
SPEAK ~ “Talk” Therapy
With an office in downtown Carmel, Holistic Pet and People Care is a joint effort between aromatherapist Cheryl Beller and dog therapist Adrienne Herman, who’ve both been treating pets’ deeper anxieties and ailments for over 10 years. “It’s a safe environment,” Herman says, of the living room setup. “I play some dog calming music and don’t pay attention for a little while, let them explore and settle in,” she says.
“The goal is to optimize well-being and the communication between two different species,” says Herman, who calls herself as an animal communicator and alternative complimentary healer, describing her process with a healthy sense of humor and a keen awareness of doubters.
“Often people who are total skeptics come to us because they’ve tried everything else and we’re a last resort,” she says of her efforts to get to the root of a pet’s discomfort or behavioral issues. But you don’t have to be in trouble to see a therapist. “Just like people who benefit from talk therapy,” Herman says, “sometimes the benefit is just being heard.”
“Some owners want to connect and bond a bit more,” says Beller, “so a ‘Calming’ blend or a ‘Happy Dog’ blend is called for. It’s a nice way to give your dog a treat without giving them food.” Beller offers personalized walk-in service on Saturday afternoons, featuring an aroma bar and a “scent evaluation station,” where pups can choose from her Well Scents aromatherapy blends or even collaborate on a custom blend, and their people can get trained on how to effectively apply it to create a rewarding routine. “When I go to the cabinet where I keep their oils, my dogs Henry and Nicky drop their heads right away, just waiting for that neck rub,” says Beller, smiling.
Who’s a Dapper Dog?
Is it You? ~ Grooming
Time to get your fur fluffed or tamed? Suds ‘N Scissors Pet Spa has been a Carmel institution for 65 years and is a great place to get a trim, blowout, or even “teeth brushing” or earrings. Regulars angelic Cockapoo Zoe and her best friend Dude, a Long-haired Yorkie who sports a silky hot pink mane, have been trusting owner Todd Harris with their fur for many years, faithfully travelling together from Aptos every six weeks for their standing appointments.
At Grooming by the Sea, the list of longtime clients reads like a Who’s Who of Carmel’s canine royalty, and they’re all treated as such. “We know every single dog who comes in,” says Marki Miner, “and they know us, and go right for their routine. Be it Kira, the Shorthaired Pointer Mix whose forays chasing ducks into the lagoon precede her weekly bath, or the (respectively) rambunctious and intelligent Standard Poodle pair Hyden and Strutz, each is treated to cuddles and conversation—and, of course, actual treats—prior to taking their place at one of the two grooming stations in the intimate salon.
Shopping and Souvenirs
Speaking of treats, The Raw Connection is a pet’s dream supermarket/general store, complete with carts to ride in, a shop dog to welcome you, and an unparalleled selection of healthy foods and supplements to accommodate raw and grain free diets. A great source for pet service provider recommendations and nutritional guidance, the Raw Connection also hosts lectures and agility and nose work training in their spacious onsite multipurpose room.
A visit to Diggidy Dog, Carmel’s premier dog boutique, is a must, especially for the fashion-forward. And the treat bar is a sight to behold. An even bigger treat is the reception you’ll get. Every employee will gush over you with a joyful sincerity that will make you salivate and never again doubt your standing as the vewy best doggy woggy wuveykins in the whole wide world.
There’s no better time than this to capture your memories with “pawsitively fabulous artwork” in your adorable likeness at LOVEDOG & CO Photography Studio located right inside Diggidy Dog. Pet photographer Liz Stavrinides will make you feel glam, whether you pose in the studio, or schedule a shoot on the streets or on Carmel Beach. You’re ready for your closeup, pup.
SIT ~ Dining Out
Sitting under restaurant tables can be such a bore, but not here! Many local human feeding stops offer fresh water bowls and kibble, and The Forge even has a Canine Cuisine menu featuring such delicacies as the Quarter Hounder and the Good Dog New York Steak.
Before dinner though, I highly recommend stopping at Terry’s Lounge in the Cypress Inn for Yappy Hour, where humans really are the backdrop and dogs socialize at various volumes, but always respectfully. Or else.
If you’ve followed all these tips, you’re practically a local! I hope you’ve found this tongue in cheek guide helpful, dawg. But remember, most humans don’t actually like your tongue in their cheek, no matter how excited you are. But they do love your appreciative kisses, poochie. So, repeat after me: on. Tongue ON cheek. That’s a good dog. You’re sure to be invited next time.
For Four-Legged Fun Around the Peninsula
Carmel Visitor’s Center
Ocean Avenue btwn. Junipero & Mission, Carmel Plaza, 2nd Floor, Carmel
Lincoln St & 7 Ave, Carmel
831/250-5275 and on Facebook
120 Central Avenue, Pacific Grove
Stone’s Pet Wash
2711 David Ave., Pacific Grove
Big Sur Canna+Botanicals
26352 Carmel Rancho Ln., Ste 100, Carmel
Holistic Pet and People Care
1 NW San Carlos at 8th, Carmel
Cheryl Beller, Aromatherapist
Suds ‘N Scissors Pet Spa
223 Crossroads Blvd., Carmel
Grooming by the Sea
831/625-1111 and on Facebook
26200 Carmel Rancho Blvd., Carmel
Mission between 5th and 6th, Carmel
LOVEDOG & CO
Mission between 5th and 6th, Carmel
SWC of 5th & Junipero, Carmel
Lincoln & Seventh St., Carmel