Northern Virginia: Lori McCue & Trubble
There are two things I tell everyone when they meet my dog, Trubble: No, I didn’t pick the name and I, too, am baffled by that spelling; and he probably can’t see you right now because he’s pretty old and blind. The geezer is still up for an adventure, though, preferably one where he can take frequent breaks to sit cute and wait for someone to pet him. Northern Virginia, it turns out, is full of people who will stop and greet any old Shih Tzu on the street like it’s a dinner-party guest — what better place for a date with a dog?
On a beautiful afternoon, I like to day-drink while Trubble prefers to survey and sniff patches of grass. Naturally, we headed to Barrel Oak Winery, about an hour outside of D.C., where dogs are allowed anywhere indoors and out on the massive grounds as long as they’re leashed. The best move is to grab a glass of wine and park at one of the picnic tables outside, where charmers like Trubble can sit back and await adoration from passing patrons. Keep in mind, Barrel Oak’s menu is limited to snacks and a pizza tent that attracts a long line, so bring a picnic lunch.
Barrel Oak Winery, 3623 Grove Lane, Delaplane, Va.
By mid-afternoon, we agree that it’s snack time, me because it’s ice cream weather and Trubble because it’s a day that ends in “y.” We’re off to The Dairy Godmother in Alexandria, which has treats for both of us. Trubble waits outside (no dogs allowed!) while I fetch him a Puppy Pop: a salty, frozen mix of pumpkin, yogurt and peanut butter in a plastic cup. We’re both more interested in my cone of Mexican vanilla custard with strawberries.
The Dairy Godmother, 2310 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria.
Dogs don’t make great shopping companions, obviously, because they won’t be honest with you about which jeans are more flattering. But if you’re going to bring your four-legged friend, Old Town Alexandria is the place to do it: King Street is lined with stores marked with “dog-friendly” stickers, and employees are liberal with treats and petting. Sensing that the wares at Current Boutique, Red Barn Mercantile and Bishop Boutique aren’t enticing Trubble, I lead us to The Dog Park, where the toys, clothes and snacks are more up his alley.
The Dog Park, 705 King St., Alexandria.
It must be time to drink again by now, so we hustle to make it to the dog-themed “Yappy Hour” at Jackson 20, a Southern-leaning restaurant attached to The Alexandrian hotel. There’s a separate entrance to the back courtyard for canine patrons, but should your dog be as pocket-size as Trubble, staff will usher you as you carry it through the dining room under your arm like a watermelon. Once out back, you can enjoy a selection of beer, wine and mixed drinks for $3-$5, while those of Trubble’s ilk can enjoy a selection of treats that are given out for free — which is good because he has some excuse about forgetting his wallet again.
Jackson 20, 480 King St., Alexandria.
Alexandria has no shortage of places to sit outside and enjoy dinner with your dog, but the Lost Dog Cafe is relevant to both our interests: The restaurant’s owners have also opened the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation, which finds homes for strays. The novel-length menu of sandwiches, pizzas and salads doesn’t include pet-specific dishes, so he’s lucky I’m willing to share the chicken from my salad.
Lost Dog Cafe, 808 N. Henry St., Alexandria.
Washington: Gabe Hiatt & Barkley
Barkley is a year-and-half-old sheepadoodle, a mix of Old English sheepdog and moyen poodle. On Barkley’s “gotcha day,” the breeder opened his trunk to reveal a litter of puppies. Five or six were peacefully dozing. Barkley was pacing and yapping. Now, Barkley is 35 pounds of pure energy — enough for a day of bouncing around D.C.
Our day begins with a trip to the Shaw Farmers Market (Sundays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.) at the Old City Farm and Guild. It doesn’t have the variety of its Dupont Circle counterpart, but it does allow dogs. I inspect peaches with one hand while keeping a hold on Barkley with the other, making sure he doesn’t lunge at children or other dogs. After I’m done sorting through produce, we approach the tent occupied by Three Puppies Treats, an outfit from Falls Church that sells homemade dog biscuits and frozen treats. We buy a bag of mixed biscuits and a 3-ounce cup of the Yum Yum Peanut Butter flavor frozen treat, made with PB, nonfat plain yogurt, honey and water.
Old City Farm and Guild, 925 Rhode Island Ave. NW.
I have long suspected that Barkley thinks he’s a goat, because he’s constantly chewing on grass and whatever bushes we encounter. To appease his fondness for flora, we leave the farmers market and enter the Old City Farm and Guild. The plants and supplies are a bargain when you consider all the free gardening advice. I ask a friendly staffer about the difference between chocolate mint and pineapple mint while Barkley sniffs around, adding more smells to his mental database.
Barkley may never be that dog hanging his head out of a moving car, but at least he doesn’t get sick in the back seat anymore. Our next stop requires a quick drive on the George Washington Memorial Parkway to park near Theodore Roosevelt Island on the Potomac. The swamp trail that borders the park is 1½ miles, and there’s plenty of shade, so Barkley doesn’t get overworked or overheated. If your dog is into birding, there are all kinds of wading birds, raptors and warblers about. I take a picture of Barkley with the 17-foot Teddy statue and post it to Instagram with a “Ruff Riders” caption.
All this time outdoors has given me a thirst for beer. Another drive leads us to another quadrant of the city, and soon enough I’m leading Barkley into Bardo, a brewery with a huge fenced-in outdoor space for patrons in Southeast Washington between Nationals Park and the Anacostia River. Even with a smattering of beer drinkers sitting at makeshift picnic tables, the space feels kind of feral — all the tables seem to be made of misshapen scrap wood. But Barkley is happy to explore Bardo’s off-leash dog area. As I drain a refreshing Hank’s Summer Sour Mash and watch him run free, I think to myself that more dog parks should be attached to beer gardens. Bardo,
25 Potomac Ave. SE.
Annapolis: Kristen Page-Kirby & Rider
Rider is a 7-year-old Brittany. His hobbies include running, hiking and barking furiously at any other dog who dares walk on his street, but sometimes it’s nice to step out and experience something new. Annapolis is already famous for its boating, seafood and midshipmen; I decided to hit the historic streets to see what it has to offer four-legged visitors.
Rider and I exit the West Garrett Garage and take the 15-minute walk through the arts district to get downtown. There are shuttles from the area’s various parking lots and a Circulator, but dogs are not allowed on either. Fortunately, many shops along the way have bowls of water and treats outside their doors; I notice the latter as Rider hoovers up a dozen from the bowl outside Shades of the Bay.
West Garrett Garage, 275 West St.; Shades of the Bay, 136 Main St.
We elect to eat breakfast at The Red Bean, in the central Annapolis Market House near City Dock. Pets are not allowed in the market itself, but there are plenty of benches to sit on in what’s called “Ego Alley” that provide great views of very expensive boats. Plus, there are ducks that deserve to be barked at just because they are ducks and that’s what they get for choosing that life.
The Red Bean, 220 Main St.
Dogs sail free on Watermark’s Cruises on the Bay, in our case a 40-minute tour of the Annapolis Harbor and the shores of the Naval Academy. Rider, who has never been on a boat before, reacts in the same way he does when he visits the vet: by attempting to fit his 54-pound frame onto my lap. He does enjoy how nearly every child on the boat neglects the taped lecture about rockfish, oysters and blue crabs in favor of petting him.
Cruises on the Bay by Watermark, City Dock, cruises daily, various times, $6-$16.
In keeping with the day’s canine theme, we stop at Pip’s Dock Street Dogs, which offers up franks both plain and slathered. As a reward for not freaking (or peeing) on the boat, Rider selects a plain all-beef hot dog while I go for the “Almost Chicago” Dog, topped with mustard, relish, onions, a pickle and a tomato wedge. Dogs aren’t allowed indoors, but there are a few tables outside — plus, the location and the innate portability of hot dogs means it’s an easy walk across the street to bark at the ducks again.
Pip’s Dock Street Dogs, 118 Dock St.
Having been to Quiet Waters Park many times before, Rider is deeply disappointed to find that the person monitoring the gate is not the woman who always gives him a treat. In addition to a dog park with separate areas for small and large dogs, Quiet Waters has trails, water views and Paddle or Pedal, where you can rent kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards — for you and your pooch. Given Rider’s reluctance on the big boat, I pass, which leaves Rider more time for a long waterfront walk and getting petted by every single person there.
Quiet Waters Park, 600 Quiet Waters Park Road, $6 parking fee per vehicle; Paddle or Pedal water equipment rentals, $15-$20 per hour.
More things to do this weekend: