Dog friendly shopping in Colorado

****This is a re-print of my column that appeared in the December 2010 issue of NZ Dog World magazine.  Since that magazine is currently available to NZ Kennel Club members only, I’m re-publishing it here because it is a topic I’m passionate about.****

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I thought I’d share my experience of dog-friendly shopping in the state of Colorado, where I recently traveled for my business.

Colorado is a state that clearly values the companionship of dogs.  They were everywhere:  in trucks, cars and – unlike New Zealand – they were welcomed in many shops and public shopping areas.   On my flight from San Francisco to Denver, there was even a passenger who had a small dog in a carrier.  (Many U.S. airlines now allow small dogs into the cabin as carry-on luggage.)[1]

I wished my Daisy could have traveled with me to enjoy the sites (but she wouldn’t have appreciated the long flight or the required three-month quarantine on our return to New Zealand).

Dogs welcome

Dog owners could easily identify shops where their dog would be allowed to enter.  These shops displayed a Dogs Welcome logo in their window.  Interestingly, these shops sold clothing and footwear for people and were not just pet stores.  An outdoor mall in Castle Rock went a step further by providing grassed park areas and dispensers of plastic bags for dogs to have a ‘comfort stop.’

Other shops made up their own signs, such as one retailer whose sign proclaimed, “Four Legged Friends Welcome.”

I asked a shop attendant if they get many shoppers accompanied by their dogs.  She replied, “Yes.  Lots.  Particularly on weekends when people who work all week want to be out with their pet.”

Dog rest stops

I noticed that many communities welcomed dogs in their shopping areas by providing bowls of water for passing dogs to drink from.  I quickly became accustomed to seeing these ‘dog rest stops’ in virtually every town that we visited.

Rest stops varied in style and offerings.  Some were simply a single water bowl or raised water bowls.   Pet shops would often include extras, such as a bench for owners to sit in.  In Manitou Springs, a popular tourist destination at the foot of Pike’s Peak (elevation 4,800 m), a sweet shop provided vending machines with dog treats.  For 25 cents, a passing dog owner could purchase a handful of treats.

Good behaviour required

In all of the communities I visited, dogs and owners acted responsibly.  There was never a pile of poo left on the footpath and dogs didn’t jump on passers-by.  Responsible dog ownership is clearly essential for communities to embrace dog-friendly shopping.

And so, I leave you with good wishes for the summer holiday season and encourage you to think:  Is dog-friendly shopping appropriate for New Zealand and, if so, what will it take to get dog-friendly shopping established here?


[1] The dog carrier is considered the single piece of carry-on luggage for the owner; the dog must have current vaccinations and is not allowed out of the carrier during the flight.

Additional photos of my trip can be found in this blog post.

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