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Tavish at River Farm, home to the American Horticultural Society and—you guessed it—some pretty spiffy gardens! April showers bring May flowers, and what better time to head into the garden?
If not your own, then how about one of the hundreds of botanical gardens and arboreta throughout the country? Truth be told, public gardens are there for you year-round providing a feast for the senses, a tonic for the soul. Our first stop is River Farm in Alexandria, Virginia. Although the property has changed hands many times over the centuries, since the historic and picturesque 25 acres along the banks of the Potomac River have been the national headquarters for the American Horticultural Society.
Leashed dogs are welcome, and during our visit to River Farm, Intrepid Pup Tavish strolled through the same gates as did 28 U. The circa northeast ceremonial gates to the White House were relocated here in the late s after a renovation project. Tavish explored the meadow and gazed out over the river.
He also sized up the largest Osage-orange tree in the United States; at nearly years of age, the famous tree is believed to be a gift from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington. Go for the azaleas, but stay and plan your return trips for everything else. There are bulbs and flowering cherries. Dogwoods and lilacs. Herbs and bonsai trees. There were bird watchers galore craning to get a glimpse so instead we headed up onto the hillside paths that meander through the azalea collection. As bands played, we wandered the boardwalks.
The lotus flowers towered over us, and dragonflies zoomed by in their herky-jerky version of floral connect-the-dots. A pretty surreal way to enjoy this urban oasis! Bottom A warm autumn afternoon along the Huron River. Sadly, we missed this spectacle by about five months, but we discovered that the Arb is beautiful in October, too. Team Tavish had been on the road and visiting with relatives for a couple of days, so this stopover was a chance for Tavish to really stretch his legs and burn off some energy.
We passed the dormant peony beds and a whimsical Faerie Garden, heading gently downhill. The trail entered woodland and then skirted the Huron River. Tavish dipped his paws in and was fixated on a large crayfish chilling out in the shallows. The tall grasses had turned golden with autumn, and it was hard to believe we were so close to a bustling college campus.
We circled back through the shaded Hawthorn Valley, ultimately covering about three miles. Tavish exploring the State Arboretum of Virginia. The University of Virginia manages this acre arboretum as part of the larger, acre Blandy Experimental Farm. Four walking loop trails originate from the main parking lot and range in length from 0. Longer still is a 7. Additional caveats are that your dog must be under immediate voice control and be put on a leash when within yards of the parking areas or any of the public buildings.
As a dog-friendly locale, pet waste stations are provided. We visited on a sunny February afternoon just ahead of a stormy cold front.
Nothing was in bloom, but the vast grounds still exuded a stark and vaguely haunting beauty. We encountered a few other hearty walkers and dogs as we made our way around. Birds scrabbled over winter berries, and evidence of deer was in abundance.
In addition to manicured landscapes were test plots where various studies were underway, including research to create a more disease-resistant chestnut tree. The scrub grasses—bleached and brittle from winter—put Tavish on high alert, and he bounded in, picking up on scents of upland game that only his nose could. The treats came out, and the picks are in!
They had inquired whether there was any special technique required. Um, not really.
Why you'll love this trip
Our stand-ins reported that there was much excited barking and that our year-old cat Hobbes assumed his traditional role as impartial observer, emitting a low rumble if the proceedings came too close to invading his personal space. Click on the bracket above for a larger, printable PDF version.
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Enjoy the madness! Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. In this stray pup was rescued by Private J. Robert Conroy and smuggled aboard a ship bound for France to accompany the nd Infantry, 26th Yankee Division.
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Stubby ultimately saw action in 17 engagements throughout World War I. After nearly dying in a poison gas attack, he was so sensitized to the smell that he would warn troops of its presence. Also uncanny was his ability to find wounded American soldiers in enemy trenches; he would hone in on voices speaking English and then stand guard and bark to alert the medics.
When last we left our intrepid band of adventurers...
He buoyed morale by visiting troops in the hospital and even knew how to salute! General Pershing presented Stubby with a medal for heroism, and the dog went on to meet Presidents Wilson, Harding and Coolidge. Tavish sizes up the Hoyas bulldog emblem near the Georgetown University campus. When Private Conroy returned from the war and eventually enrolled at Georgetown to study law, it went without saying that the much-decorated Stubby would go with him.
Over the years, Georgetown had other live dogs as mascots, including a terrier named Hoya, a Great Dane named Butch and a series of bulldogs. He spotted the water bowl just inside the doorway instead. While adventures at national parks and historical sites are the usual fodder for IntrepidPup. Yep, the retail jungle. But when there are exceptions to the rule and we can bring him inside?
Those tend to be memorable win-wins. Tavish got the royal treatment at the tileworks. With Tavish along for our Midwest road trip, we parked in the lot and figured one of us would walk Tavish around the grounds while the other reconnoitered inside. Long story short, the showroom manager caught sight of us through the picture window and beckoned us all in. This ended up as a classic example of how being dog-friendly can make good retail sense.
What could easily have been a hurried minute stopover turned into a great, nearly hour-long customer experience! Motawi staffers got their dog fix, and we purchased several new tiles as mementos of our visit.
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Last year our travels took us across the border to Ontario, Canada, and we spent an afternoon in charming Niagara-on-the-Lake. Established by German immigrant Reiner Henneveld in , the company has remained in the family all these years, and the pieces are handmade some 90 miles west in Kitchener.
Better yet, we were able to select the leather and have the piece custom made. It was shipped to us about six weeks later—a nice reminder of our dog-friendly shopping experience! Tavish was particularly fascinated by the woman setting up her Cartier station. Are those treats? Cartier, Prada and Gucci, oh my!
Really, a fancy department store? When presented with big echoing spaces, Tavish has a damning habit of barking a few times, and the glittering ground floor of Saks was no exception. We, however, were cringing and thinking the doorman would reappear at any moment to escort us out. Au contraire. Charmed life, mon ami. Amid platters, vases and coffee mugs, Intrepid Pup found a selection of pet bowls, too! Head to historic Annapolis, Maryland, and an array of dog-friendly options await—from patio dining to taking in views of the Chesapeake Bay or strolling through the picturesque campus of the United States Naval Academy.
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For more than 40 years the shop has carried functional and decorative ware hand crafted by talented potters working onsite, as well as sourced from ceramic artists around the country. Bonus: the well-stocked Paws pet boutique is just a few doors away. Scanning the retail horizon at Orvis.