The Meaning of Dog Friendly

In addition to the low cost of living and the change of scenery, another reason I chose Colorado as my next home is because it’s known as being very dog friendly. In fact, WalletHub.com ranked Colorado Springs #3 on its “2015’s Best and Worst Cities for Pet Lovers” list. Honolulu came in 70 spots later. As far as I can tell, there are indeed lots of dog friendly places to go here: restaurants, hotels, parks, hikes and even random dog friendly attractions, such as the Ghost Town Wild West museum. Most apartment buildings and homes for rent are also pet friendly.

This brings me to the conclusion that pet friendly means exactly that: pets (presumably dogs) are allowed in many more places here than they are in other cities. That’s it—nothing more, nothing less. Here are some specific lessons I’ve learned:

  • Just because a place is dog friendly does not mean the dogs themselves—or their owners—are friendly. It is unwise to allow your dog to greet (a.k.a. sniff) other dogs unless their owners are clearly OK with it. In Hawaii, most people want their dog to meet yours; few pull their pets back. Here, it’s the opposite.
  • Though dog parks may be abundant, it doesn’t mean they’re safe. Thanks to a couple of locals I’ve spoken with, I now know that Palmer Dog Park is OK, but it’s best to avoid Bear Creek Dog Park, since “dogs get bit by rattlesnakes there all the time.” There’s even a Rattlesnake Avoidance Clinic sponsored by a local dog trainer—for $60, they’ll teach you how to keep your dog safe from rattlers while on the trails of Colorado.
  • Hypothermia in dogs is very real and sounds incredibly scary—especially since I’ve seen Koa shiver when we were outdoors. The best way to prevent it is to “avoid extreme cold for extended periods,” but he has shivered after only a few minutes. I guess the cold may be too much for my Hawaiian pooch.
  • Your dogs’ paws should be “winter proofed.” After seeing Koa excessively lick his paw following a walk in the snow, I did a quick Google search and Cesar Milan taught me that salt and deicers can be toxic to man’s best friend. Feeling like a terrible pet parent, I cleaned Koa’s paws then went out and spent $50 on boots that he hates but will be forced to wear.

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This brings me to my final lesson:

  • Dog friendly definitely does not equal wallet friendly. After spending $134 on food, treats and yes, those dang boots, I can safely say that dog goods cost just as much here as it did in Hawaii.

Well, at least I know my spoiled little mutt is happy and safe.

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