The Inns and Outs of Weekending With Rover

Michele and Joe Deutsch eat with their dog, Annabelle, at the Lazy L.
Michele and Joe Deutsch eat with their dog, Annabelle, at the Lazy L. (Judy G. Rolfe - For The Washington Post)
By Jen Chaney
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, June 14, 2006

We were on vacation for less than a day when Casey broke into someone's house.

To be fair, it was actually a small cabin. But that didn't make me feel any less embarrassed when my playful 20-pound beagle mix darted through the open doorway, scooted between the legs of a poor man attempting to enjoy his morning coffee and ran across the bed. I quickly and profusely apologized, snatched Casey and attempted to exit.

But before I could leave, Jo, the woman occupying the cottage with her java-sipping husband, had a question.

"Will Casey eat duck?" she asked, offering him a treat.

When a person invades someone else's home, he usually ends up in jail. When a dog does it -- particularly at the Lazy L at Willow Creek, a pet-friendly bed-and-breakfast in Lewes, Del. -- he gets free meat. For me and my husband, Rob -- first-time dog owners taking a maiden weekend escape with our recently adopted mutt -- that sort of open-door pooch policy worked out just fine.

The popularity of "dog whisperer" Cesar Millan and the never-ending marketing of luxury pet products prove something we already know: We Americans love our puppies. And more of us travelers insist on sleeping with them, not just at interstate motels on our way to visit family but also at destination inns and getaway B&Bs. More and more, a weekend away doesn't mean a weekend away from Rover.

Eager to experience our first vacation with Casey, Rob and I explored a variety of escape options (see Details link) and ultimately selected the Lazy L, a pleasantly informal B&B that goes out of its way to cater to well-behaved pups. Located on eight acres along the banks of Old Mill Creek, the Lazy L boasts a lighted, double-fenced dog run (home to the so-called "rustic cabin"), a small swimming pool and a sizable main house with five comfortable, contemporary rooms and several lounges perfect for watching TV, playing games or just chilling. Dogs are welcome in virtually all areas of the property, yet to my surprise the entire place looked as clean as a freshly scrubbed Army barracks.

In addition to the immaculate digs, Joanne Cassidy, one of the Lazy L proprietors, provided a list of nearby dog-friendly activities, restaurants and shops. By the time we headed home, we had discovered the following facts about how dogs like to spend their vacations.

Dogs enjoy making friends . . . and window shopping.

The weekend we visited, dog owners occupied four out of six Lazy L rooms (including the cabin), so Casey made plenty of buddies, including a pit bull mix, a chow so furry he looked like a Koosh ball and a friendly vizsla named Georgy. When Casey wasn't befriending members of his own species, he was charming the B&B's staff, who let him sit under our table at breakfast each morning and offered him ample treats to ensure good behavior. And the puppy love didn't end when we left the property. During a stroll in downtown Rehoboth, roughly a 15-minute drive from Lewes, a couple of shop employees -- including a woman at the trendy Pop Rocks Art Gallery (39 Baltimore Ave., 302-227-0502, ) -- invited Casey inside to browse.

Dogs enjoy eating well.

Casey scored some serious table scraps on this trip, including Grotto Pizza crust and a couple of vinegar-soaked french fries from Thrasher's. Hey, he was on vacation. He even got seated at a couple of restaurants. While in Rehoboth, we ate lunch at Lori's Oy-Vey Cafe (also at 39 Baltimore Ave., next to Pop Rocks, 302-226-3066), snagging a table in the outside courtyard, where Casey calmly sat while we dug into our turkey Reubens. On Saturday night, Casey also joined us on the outdoor deck at Lazy Susan's (1420 Hwy. 1, 302-645-5115), a crab shack featured on the Lazy L's list of dog-friendly spots. Our guy didn't get a bite of my crab imperial that night, but our waitress did bring him a few biscuits.

Dogs also enjoy eating sand.

The author's beagle mix, Casey.
The author's beagle mix, Casey.(Rob Runett)
Dogs are prohibited from many of the beach areas on the Delaware shore, particularly during the summer season. So we headed to Cape Henlopen State Park (42 Cape Henlopen Dr., Lewes, 302-645-8983, ), where the shoreline at Point Comfort Station (primarily a place for fishing) is open year-round to leashed pups, including in the water. Casey basked in the sun, buried his snout repeatedly in the sand and lapped up his fair share of the gritty stuff.

Dogs need to relax, too.

Between exercising in the dog run, going on shopping sprees and bursting uninvited into other people's rooms, Casey definitely de-stressed during this vacation. And he certainly needed the break. Once we returned home, it was back to the demanding daily grind: eating bowls of upscale Beneful, getting regular belly rubs and napping approximately 18 hours a day.

Clearly, he will need another getaway very soon.

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