Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dogs get paradise in city park

New Orleans dogs can sample the good life at parks, spas, restaurants, bars and hotels

Published: Friday, August 19, 2011, 5:00 AM
Alison Fensterstock, The Times-Picayune 
Pepperoni, my excellent 11-year-old mixed-breed, has led an accomplished and illustrious canine life.
PepperoniDog.JPGPepperoni, an 11-year-old mixed breed, is clearly enjoying his recent trip to New Orleans City Bark dog park.
At 3, he awakened my husband, Lefty, to alert him to a house fire.
A year later, Pepperoni accompanied the local band Baby Rosebud in the studio for the recording of a CD.
During the seven years that Lefty booked and managed the Circle Bar, Pepperoni was petted by Guitar Lightnin' Lee, bounce star Big Freedia and Lady Bo, Bo Diddley's original guitarist. Antoinette K-Doe was frequently his dog-sitter.
Exciting times for a good dog, to be sure. But the life of a musician and promoter is unpredictable, and Pepperoni's first 7 years were a bit rough-and-tumble. So when Pepperoni officially became my stepdog in 2007, I decided our lifestyle together could use a little refining.
Happily, New Orleans is full of elegant options for the discerning dog, from playing to shopping to dining to luxury hotel lodging. Here's how I pampered my pooch, and some ideas for how you might pamper yours.
City Bark
For romping, the members-only New Orleans City Bark (membership is $35 per year) takes dog recreation to a whole new level.
City Bark board president Jackie Shreves, who hosted Pepperoni for a run around the grounds on a recent morning, said that board members researched dozens of dog parks around the country and consulted with several veterinarians before choosing the park's amenities and rules.
The park is a swath of green encircled by a walking path, with several water fountains, a dog-wash station, an obstacle course and a separate area for smaller and disabled dogs. As of 2011, the park has 2,800 members from 12 parishes and 14 states. A guest pass to the park can be purchased for $10 by dogs who are staying at, say, the Ritz-Carlton (more on that later).
The "101 Donations" benefit on Saturday (details at the bottom of this story) will raise funds for lighting and an irrigation system (members heretofore have been bringing hoses from home to keep the park green). Shreves said she hopes to have enough money left over to start a small endowment for City Bark, which is not funded by City Park.
"By 5:30 p.m. in the winter, it's pitch-black," said Shreves, who owns a rescue cocker spaniel and has a silver, paw-shaped charm dangling from her tote bag. "So we need that (lighting) for people coming after work."
Shopping and a manicure
After a good run around City Bark, Pepperoni enjoys a little shopping. As an early adopter, he has already purchased a squeaky toy from Belladoggie, the new "resort spa for dogs" on Washington Avenue, the latest shop in the Belladonna family.
Belladoggie hosts several events this weekend for its grand opening festivities, including a party tonight, a second line and brunch hosted by Irvin Mayfield on Saturday, and a concert at Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse in the Royal Sonesta Monday. The brunch and concert will benefit Dag's House, a fitness and boarding facility for disabled dogs.
Pepperoni also digs the Canine Connection (4920 Tchoupitoulas St.) for its ergonomic private dog-washing station and Fetch Mid-City (3536 Toulouse St.), which offers dog spa treatments that include extended brushing and moisturizing paw rubs.
And although Pepperoni hasn't been yet, if we ever want to take a shopping trip across the lake, Zorro's Cool Stuff for Pets and People (201 Carroll St., Mandeville) offers the one item no truly pampered pooch should be without: a tutu.
Yappy Hour
Many downtown dogs are regulars at Johnny White's Sports Bar (720 Bourbon St.), which publishes a yearly calendar featuring popular dogs of the French Quarter. The Bridge Lounge (1201 Magazine St.), which is decorated with artsy dog photography, offers water bowls on the floor and dog treats behind the bar. Fetch also hosts monthly Yappy Hours, with treats for dogs and wine for humans. (Yappy Hour dates and times are listed on
North shore dogs can stop by Ruby's Roadhouse (840 Lamarque St., Mandeville) for its occasional Yappy Hours. A number of Old Mandeville establishments -- including The Barley Oak (2101 Lakeshore Dr.), The Beach House (124 Girod St.) andMaxein's Coffee House (115 Girod St.) -- are dog-friendly.
Fine canine dining
Dogs could bar-hop all night in New Orleans, but a moderate animal knows when it's time to get a snack. In fact, for Pepperoni, that time is all the time.
Lots of local restaurants have outdoor seating that's pup-friendly, including the Parkway Bakery (538 Hagan St.), Café Amelie (912 Royal St.), and El Gato Negro (81 French Market Place) -- which, ironically, is named for a cat but does welcome dogs at outdoor tables. And Café Freret (7329 Freret St.) serves home-baked, organic treats.
Many of the best dogs from and visiting New Orleans have visited Bayona's (430 Dauphine St.) lush, dog-friendly patio area; in fact, after playing the Voodoo Experience in 2003, Iggy Pop dined there with his Chihuahua.
For a comprehensive list of dog-friendly restaurants in the New Orleans area, check out the new website
Luxury lodging unleashed
After a full day of running, shopping, clubbing and fine dining, even the hardiest pooch may be too pooped to walk home. Fortunately, many hotel chains are now pet-friendly, including Loews, Starwood properties including the W and Westin, and some La Quintas and Holiday Inns.
The Ritz-Carlton, though, has walked the dog the extra mile: Puppy guests at the New Orleans hotel, for a $150 deposit, can snack on dog treats from room service out of an elegant blue bowl and sleep on a plush doggie bed emblazoned with the Ritz crest.
Many rockers turn to more elegant pursuits upon reaching a certain age. Metallica's Lars Ulrich is a collector of contemporary art, for example, and Motley Crue's Vince Neil owns a vineyard. A night at the Ritz would be a perfect ending to a day of pampering Pepperoni, a rock 'n' roll dog with elevated tastes.
What: Bobby Cure and the Summertime Blues will play at this gala fundraiser for New Orleans City Bark. Silent auction items include antiques, art, jewelry, dining and vacation packages and a topiary shaped like a Labrador.
When: Saturday, 7-11 p.m.
Where: City Park's Pavilion of the Two Sisters
Cost: Individual tickets are $101. Tables are also available.
What: A second line, brunch and concert benefiting the facility for disabled dogs. Irvin Mayfield will headline the concert and, along with grand marshal Faith the Dog, will lead the second line.
When: Second line and brunch Saturday 9:45 a.m.; concert Monday, 8 p.m.
Where: Belladoggie, 815 Washington Ave. Second line starts at Belladonna, 2900 Magazine St.; concert at Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse in the Royal Sonesta, 300 Bourbon St.
Cost: Donations accepted at Saturday's brunch; tickets to Monday's concert are $22 general admission, with a limited number of VIP packages available. Call 504.309.9510 for details.
Alison Fensterstock can be reached at Friend Pepperoni at
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