Now that SVV and I work together, it’s hard not to want to take Ella with us everywhere we go. Being on the road and away from her two-thirds of the time makes for a lonely, sad-faced muppet in our household—and, subsequently, even sadder-faced humans—and anything we can do to extend our adventures together on this earth gets us excited!
Sure, there are plenty of trips she can go on, but we’ve been down that road before: taken her to a city that on its surface appears to be pet-friendly (*cough, Denver, cough*), but really, truly is not, so we end up compromising our adventures to keep her safe and happy. There’s nothing more stressful for pet owners than to have to leave their pup behind in a hotel room for long days on end or, worse, a locked car with the motor and air-conditioning running. So more often than not, she stays home with my mom and we count down the days until we’re all reunited again.
Luckily for us, though, many of Tennessee’s cities have jumped on the pet-friendly bandwagon, and the more we focus our work in the South, the more Ella is able to tag along. This past weekend, for example, we were blown away to find that the majority of shops, outdoor restaurants and other patios in Knoxville not only welcomed dogs, but genuinely loved them—Ella has never been so popular, and she had an extra pep in her step as people (and fellow canines, too) left and right stopped to admire her, lavish her with compliments or give her a pat.
For us, her humans, it was comforting knowing that everywhere we went around town, we weren’t going to run into any issues, nor did we encounter any “NO DOGS ALLOWED” signage. It was a rare treat compared to other places we’ve traveled that wouldn’t let her—even though she’s but six pounds, well-trained and hypoallergenic—inside.
Franklin, right near us, is another such city that has fully embraced pet owners, which makes sense given that the headquarters for Mars Petcare is just down the road. When we were in Williamson County a few months ago, we caught wind of what Mars is doing with its BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ initiative, and as pet owners, we reached out and asked how we could be a part of this pilot program.
Kicking off this month, Mars Petcare’s BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ aims to educate business, pet owners and communities alike on how to create a more empowering environment for all, with more than 80 local businesses opening their doors to customers and their furry friends.
The initiative also aspires to build truly “pawsome” communities by supporting shelters, homes, businesses and parks. The event—and program at large—will touch on these four key cornerstones:
- SHELTERS: Williamson County Animal Center will feature an on-site adoption event, including a Dog Walks for Donations program, where they’ll offer chaperoned walks of adoptable dogs downtown throughout the day.
- PARKS: The event will feature a pop-up dog park to showcase Nashville Civic Design Center’s work to create a safe play space for pets in urban areas. There will also be feedback boards to collect input from the public, as well as hydration stations for the pup participants.
- HOMES: Mars Petcare will provide on-site behaviorists and nutritionists who will offer tips and tricks on keeping homes safe for both dogs and cats.
- BUSINESSES: Mars Petcare will provide participating businesses with BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ materials and responsible pet ownership messaging. Many of the local restaurants and bars with patios will also be featuring a “yappy hour.”
We’ll be celebrating Ella’s seventh birthday next week at the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ Franklin Celebration next weekend and would love for you local folks to join us! It’s going to be a blast with several notable guests in attendance like Franklin’s own mayor, Ken Moore.
For all of you other pet owners out there, I’m curious: What’s the most pet-friendly place you’ve visited? What do you think cities can do to better accommodate animals? On the flip side, what can pet owners do to be both responsible and mindful when taking their pups in public?