Dogs of Vail: This town has gone to the dogs — from hotels to bars, dogs are welcome | VailDaily.com
Katie Coakley
Special to the Daily

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Dogs of Vail: This town has gone to the dogs — from hotels to bars, dogs are welcome

Daily dogs

Want to see your dog in the pages of the Vail Daily? Here’s how to submit your furry friend for a chance to see him or her gracing the pages of the paper.

Visit vaildaily.com/dogs.

Upload the photo of your dog and provide your dog’s name and breed.

Grant Vail Daily rights to publish your dog’s photo, then enter your information.

Answer a minimum of five questions, which range from fill in the blank questions like “my favorite thing to roll around in is …” to true or false questions such as, “All cats are Communists, true or false?”

When finished, click “submit.” The Vail Daily will publish two pictures per day, over 700 four-legged photos per year.

It's not a secret: We live in a place that loves its dogs.

Walk around any path, trail, sidewalk or park in the Vail Valley and you're sure to see at least one canine trotting along. Visit a store or patio and you'll probably see a few more. But it's not enough to say that people are fond of their dogs — they're nuts for them.

As one Instagram post from @sarahmarsteller states, "I only moved to Vail for the copious amount of doggys (sic) roaming the streets, the skiing may have had something to do with it as well," #dogsofvail.

Whether they're chilling at the office with their owners or accompanying their humans on bike rides and hikes, dogs are an integral part of our lives in the valley — and we like it that way. From health and safety tips to ways to make your dog a star, here are some ways to maintain your love affair with your canine companions.

Keep them healthy

Perhaps one of the most important ways that you can show your dog that you love them is by keeping them healthy. In many cases, this means preventative care, explained Dr. Charlie Meynier, who has been a veterinarian in the valley for more than 10 years.

Meynier operates two offices (one in Eagle-Vail and one in Edwards) and has a 24-hour emergency clinic that operates on weekends and holidays. He's seen a lot of patients and said that, like in humans, preventative medicine is good for your pets, too.

Coming in for annual visits that include staying up to date with vaccinations and getting blood work can help detect problems in the liver or kidneys before it's too late. As dogs get into their senior years, most won't show any signs of problems with their liver or kidneys until the organs are already failing — even then, the signs are minimal.

"It's bad," Meynier said, "and now we have to rescue this animal from what's going on. If we provide preventative care, it extends the life of pets."

The creation of pet health insurance has helped, Meyneir said. Now, almost every vet clinic will accept pet health insurance and it's a competitive market. Carrying pet insurance can help owners take proper care of their animals, helping them live longer and receive better, quality care.

But it's also important to pay attention to your surroundings. In addition to phenomena such as seeing an increase in wildlife encounters, Meynier said that there's also been a rise in toxicity in pets.

"With laws changing, things like marijuana are more readily available," he said. "Be aware of what's in your house and what happens if and when your pet gets into it."

Meynier said that he's seeing a few animals each week hospitalized because of a drug overdose. If they eat edibles, then it could combine marijuana toxicity with chocolate toxicity, which means that he has to treat them on multiple levels. Being aware of substances that are toxic to dogs, and calling immediately if you suspect that they've eaten something dangerous, is the best way to deal with potential poisonings. Meynier said that he'd rather people call to find out if something is potentially wrong rather than waiting. In some cases, time is of the essence.

"I put my cell number on my card because if there is something that someone's concerned about, I want them to have a resource that they can call immediately and find out," he said. "If there's a question, call and check in. We're happy to do that, always."

Gear up

While dogs can get away with a lot less gear than humans can, there are still ways to protect your furry friends when you're adventuring together.

The world of dog gear has exploded, from collapsible water bowls to heavy-duty harnesses to dog backpacks. Wags & Whiskers, located in Edwards, carries a selection of gear, including items from Ruffwear.

"They (Ruffwear) have a great, heavy-duty life jacket for the rafting dogs," said Kaley Ruark, store manager at Wags & Whiskers, in an email interview. "There are lots of dog pack options for the hiking/mountaineering dogs, like bootie options to protect their feet from tough trails, as well as cold temperatures. We can get any of it, typically within a few business days, and we highly recommend it. It's a little pricier gear, but it's gear that lasts."

Think about what you like to do and then think about what your dog might need. Do you run at night? You probably have a light and/or reflective vest. These items are also helpful for your dog, too. Do you wear a coat in the winter? Well, your dog might like one, too — especially if they're a short-haired breed.

From treats such as Plato's Capelin treats, which are whole Icelandic fish, to a dog bed that rolls up and is great for camping, Ruark and the people at Wags & Whiskers are happy to find the perfect item for you and your dog.

"It's little things like that that we really enjoy: improving the lives of our customers and their dogs alike," Ruark said. "We're always stoked to help out and love being a part of the lives of the dogs of our community."

While dogs have survived for centuries without booties or sunscreen (yes, they make dog sunscreen), it doesn't hurt — and it may even help.

"When our beloved dogs have the essential gear they need to stay active, it makes it that much more fun for everyone," Ruark said.

Vacation or staycation?

While vacations are always a treat, sometimes it can be difficult to leave your best friend behind. But that doesn't have to be the case: Many hotels are dog-friendly, and some even cater to four-legged guests. In the Vail Valley, there are several options where you — and your dog — can enjoy a staycation close to home.

"We love providing guests with a 'home away from home' feel so if that means bringing their furry friends, then that's marvelous," said Kate Allan, summer angel at the Four Seasons Resort Vail. "Also, allowing our guests to bring their dogs eliminates the potential stress of leaving them behind and creates a feeling of warm hospitality upon arrival."

At The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, four-legged guests can use a dog bed by Pooch Snoozer as well as ceramic food and water bowls while they're at the resort. Also included in the pet amenity is The Bachelor's Packet, highlighting an in-room dining menu crafted exclusively for dogs and activities around the area as well as a pack of locally sourced treats from The Enchanted Biscuit. Well–mannered pets are encouraged to join in on nature programs with their parents.

In Avon, The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa provides Westin Heavenly Dog Beds (which, if it's as comfy as the human beds, then it is pretty spectacular), water bowls and food dishes and a special dog-specific amenity. The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail delivers dog treats, a dog bowl with water and a dog bed upon arrival. They also offer pet-sitting services for guests so they can leave their rooms and know their dogs are in great hands.

Summer and fall seem to be a popular time to travel with pets, according to representatives from the hotels. The number of dogs visiting varies: The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail reported that approximately 500 dogs stay with them each year.

Lucky dogs.

Note: A pet fee is usually added to the room rate; each hotel and resort's pet policy is different. Check with hotels prior to booking to receive all of the updated information.

Become dog-gone famous

While it's one thing for a dog's owner to think he or she is awesome, some dogs transcend familial famousness and become local legends. The Vail Valley is home to several such dogs, setting the bar high for those bright-eyed youngsters who want to make their mark on the world.

Want to reach legendary status? Get a restaurant named after you. Both Kirby Cosmo's BBQ Bar in Minturn and Bart & Yeti's in Vail were named for well-loved dogs. Though Kirby, a German short-haired pointer, passed away this past summer, dogs are still encouraged to visit on the patio in Minturn. As for the two eponymous dogs of Bart & Yeti's, the stories are plentiful due to the almost 40 years of history that is ingrained in the pub in Lionshead Village. From tales (tails?) of the dogs nosing around with Gerald Ford and Clint Eastwood's canine companions to the stories of the present-day denizens, Bart & Yeti's continues to be a hospitable haven for dogs and their owners alike.

Or, start your own wine label. Henry, Vail Mountain's First Ski Patrol Dog, is known as the "dogfather." He's retired now, but his legend continues as he now has his own vino. Henry Red Table Wine, which is graced with a rendering of Henry and Vail's mountains, is a bold cab, syrah and tempranillo blend that is available at local wine shops and online for $28 a bottle. Sales benefit the training of Vail Avalanche Rescue Dogs.

Then there are the dogs that are famous in the media. In Eagle-Vail, one dog is on her way to becoming an Instagram star. Bondi (@bondiasinthedog) is a 5-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog who has more than 1,500 followers. And in Minturn, Jack, a Golden Retriever, still gets recognized from when he graced the pages of the Minturn Mutts calendar as Mr. October in 2013.

Jack is also frequently asked to pose for photographs when he strolls through Vail with his mom, Beth Pappas: He's usually carrying his leash in his mouth.

"He stands up a little straighter and prances a bit more when he hears people say, 'Look at that dog carrying his leash,'" Pappas said. "He knows they're talking about him and it makes him happy."

The newest opportunity for local dogs to have their "15 minutes of fame" is through the Vail Daily. A new feature, Daily Dogs publishes a photo of two local dogs each day. More than 40 have been posted so far; more than 700 mutt mugs will be showcased this year. After three weeks, there have been more than 180 submissions, which is a pretty clear sign that people are nuts about their dogs.

Kaylee Porter submitted a photo of her dog Silas to Daily Dogs.

"Silas is already a celebrity," Porter said. "But it's a good chance to rat out your dog for all the stuff they do."

Silas, who is known for his column "Ask Silas" in the Vail Daily and was also featured in Town Talk for his birthday, has been recognized around the valley.

"He likes the attention and extra belly rubs that he gets when he's out," Porter said.

Young or old; pure-bred or of questionable parentage; famous or infamous, there is no shortage of amazing dogs in Vail. So pick up a few poo bags and hit the streets, paths or parks: You're sure to make a splash in this dog-centric town.