A Hidden Gem in Vermont

Many years ago, when New York Magazine was still in its infancy, I had a business luncheon with one of their editors. We went to a wonderful little restaurant, located upstairs on Second Avenue above a bank of stores. As we ordered, the restaurant slowly filled up, but was never crowded. And the food was delicious. Those were the days when I would have been called a “foodie,” if that term existed back in the late ‘60s, and I recognized that this was a very unique place. I asked the editor why the magazine hadn’t reviewed this restaurant, since most of the staff ate there on a continuing basis. He said, “Once we review a restaurant, everybody comes, and we won’t be able to get in anymore.”

Keeping that in mind, I wanted to tell you about my favorite pet-friendly place in Vermont—North Cove Cottages. Fortunately, I’m good friends with the owner, Karen Rockow, and even if everyone flocks to her cabins in Spring, Summer, or Fall (there are only a few winterized cabins), our family won’t get shut out. We’ve been staying there since our daughter was a toddler (and she’s now in college).

North Cove Cottages is located on beautiful Lake Dunmore, which is a quick 10 miles outside of Middlebury, VT. There are 11 housekeeping cottages of varying sizes. During the summer there are a number of teachers who come with their families, while they are studying for various graduate degrees at Breadloaf Workshop, part of Middlebury College. They’re normally there for the 7-week summer session.  And then there are the loyal returnees of all professions, ages, and interests.

Every cabin has a picnic table and barbecue in addition to full kitchens complete with pots, pans, dishes and glasses so you don’t have to cook outside if you don’t want to.  And of course there is a great selection of restaurants in Middlebury, Brandon, or up north to Burlington.  The cottages range in size from three to seven rooms and can sleep up to five people. There’s nothing like waking up in the morning and watching the sun reflect off the lake as a family of ducks slowly glides by.

Down the road is a general store, so whatever small things you need—they’re available. Middlebury (up Route 7) has two large supermarkets, a movie theater, and plenty of other shopping, including a wonderful bookstore and several gift stores. It’s about a 40 minute ride north to Burlington, if you want to spend a day shopping or visiting someone at the University of Vermont or even visiting the Shelbourne Museum and Farm. There’s nearby skiing if you venture there in the winter. There’s occasional theater in the summer in Middlebury and Weston. There are a number of restaurants in town and nearby, and you can golf on the Middlebury College Golf Course, which is open to the public.

The highest recommendation comes from our dogs. They love the place. Lola and Charlie are free to wander, especially since I know that they’ll come immediately if I call them. Many people bring their dogs—all sizes and shapes, and some are leashed, some run free. As we get out of the car when we arrive for the week, Lola immediately heads for the lake. Charlie, on the other hand, approaches cautiously, dips his toes in and then retreats to lie in the sun. On constant patrol is Karen’s Yellow Lab, Widget, who just wants her belly rubbed and is the unofficial welcome committee. And there are always a number of other dogs there, large and small. It is truly a pet-friendly place. We’ve also been getting our exercise by walking the dogs on the Middlebury College campus, and then enjoying a cup of coffee and a roll at the local Otter Creek Bakery.

If you’re interested in a week-long summer vacation with your pet, or just a long weekend to enjoy either the fall foliage or a few days on the slopes, visit the North Cove Cottages. It will undoubtedly become an annual tradition for you, your family, and your pet!

Great Dog Parks in Burlington, Vermont

burly-dogBurlington, Vermont, is both a great college town and biggest city in Vermont. It is a beautiful place to visit, full of natural surroundings, and features two off-leash dog parks. Otherwise, dogs are allowed in all of the Burlington City Parks on leash, and you are responsible for clean up. Take note that dogs are prohibited from designated swimming and picnic areas at North Beach, Leddy and Oakledge Parks.

Vermont is also great in the fall for amazing foliage and hiking, and in the winter for skiing and snowboarding. Many bands also come to this town, so it’s definitely somewhere to hit up if you are into music.

Waterfront Site

This is a fenced-in, off-leash dog park. It is about 1,000 feet north of the Moran Building, and has access to the lake. You must park at the north end of Waterfront Park or North Beach and walk in. It is open every day, at every hour!

Starr Farm Park

This is a fenced-in, off-leash dog park. It has just established its area for small dogs, under 30 pounds . It is located just west of a bike path, adjacent star-farmto a community garden. Make sure you follow the many rules that are posted at this park, such as no food or drink allowed, or no female dogs in heat! It has convenient parking and there is available water.

Battery Park

This is a central park, located on Battery Street in downtown Burlington. It is a historic park, which was used as a military camp during the War of 1812. It offers an excellent view of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains in New York, as well as a promenade and playground. The summers feature live music, and winters feature a skating rink. Dogs are allowed on leash.

Calahan Park

This is a 19 acre, multi-purpose park. It is a great place if you and your dog like to watch sports, as there are baseball fields, and basketball and tennis courts. There is an ice rink in the winter. Dogs are allowed on leash.

City Hall

This park is located in the city center of downtown Burlington. It has recently been restored, with a new fountain, seats and walkways. It operates a farmer’s market until October on Saturdays. Dogs are allowed on leash.

Roosevelt Park

This is a three-acre, neighborhood park in the North End. It has baseball, basketball and an open playing field.

Running with your Dog

Tips and Safety

Dogs should run for the same reasons that humans do. It helps them maintain muscle and tone, so that their bodies do not turn flabby. It also helps dogs have a faster metabolism, and be healthier overall and have more energy. Dogs that spend a good deal of time indoors should spend time exercising or running, or else they will have stored up energy and may become destructive. dog-running

When you want to get your dog to start running, don’t do it all at once. Start out walking short distances, and then long distances until you start to experiment with running. Do not take tiny puppies or older dogs, as they are not as fit to run. If you choose to run on the streets, run with your dog on your left side and go against traffic. Because dogs don’t have the protection of shoes, certain surfaces can be destructive. Asphalt is hot in the summer, and rocky surfaces may damage the feet. Grass is always a good option, for dogs and humans alike. If your dog has serious health problems, avoid running. When you run in the summer, try to either bring water or run by a place where your dog can access water. If you run at night, wear something bright and attach some bright colored tape to your dog’s collar. Don’t try to take your dog out when the sun is blazing, it is better to go out in the morning or evening.

Click here for more advice.


If you and your dog are great running companions, check out some events. Dog Run Dog offers 5K and 10K runs for dogs and people, that could either be in your area, or could make for a great trip. So far this year there have been races in Saint Petersburg, Florida and Provincetown, Massachusetts.

For instance, on September 20, there is going to be a race in Norwich, Vermont, going through the woods and through town. It is a quaint location to visit, with rolling hills and an old country general store in town. For the West Coasters, there will be an event on October 10 in San Francisco, California. They will be holding a dog run race on Crissy Field beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, next to the beautiful SF Bay. It will be virtually flat and very scenic! Some other races are still in development.

Click here for the entry guidelines.

Upcoming New England Dog Events

If you live in the New England region, or plan on traveling there any time soon, bring your dog to some fun events!


Camp Gone to the Dogs

Mountaineer Inn

Stowe, Vermont

September 6-12, 13-19

This camp offers much of Vermont’s well-known natural beauty, with green fields and impressive mountains in the background on a luxurious resort. There are delicious, home cooked meals for everyone, including vegetarians. Veterinarians are at almost all the camps, day and night. At the Stowe Camp, there are 8 grassy, shaded acres surrounded by a brook. There are 25-30 activities offered per day. This inn has also reserved a pond for dogs to swim, and there is a five mile walking path and a gondola ride you can take your dog.

Click here for the schedule.


Bark for Life North Shore

Willow Park/North Park District

Northfield, MA

August 9

Bark for Life is a fundraiser event for the American Cancer Society, honoring the value of our canine companions. It is in respect of Canine Caregivers, such as Canine Companions, Guide Dogs, Service Dogs, Rescue Dogs, Therapy Dogs, and Diagnostic Dogs. Dogs and their owners will celebrate surviving cancer, honor those lost to cancer, and fundraise for cancer research, education and awareness. Make sure your dog is up to date in its vaccinations. It costs $25/dog beforehand, and $35/dog at the day of the event.

Barktoberfest 2009

South Chelmsford Fairgrounds

Westford, MA

September 20

This is the only event that raises money for medical care and supplies for desperate dogs in pounds. You can raise money by taking a Walk Fur Dogs, with or without a dog. There are dog contests, such as best trick, best booty wiggle, oldest, looks most similar to owner, fastest sit and highest jump. There will be a Wellness Pavilion, which includes dog massages, Reiki, ask the vet, microchipping and nail clipping. There will be food and a bakesale. It is sponsored by Pound Hounds, a nonprofit organization. Admission is free!


Woofstock 2009

Round Top Farm

Damariscotta, ME

September 12, 2009frsb

This event is combining the Animal House Pet Education Fair and the Damariscotta-Newcastle Rotary Club Family Fun Dog Show. There will be pet vendors from all over the region, demonstrations from pet professionals, pet games, free samples and the Family Fun Dog Show. The profits are donated to shelters and rescue institutions.

Dog Day 3

Skyline Farm

North Yarmouth, ME

September 19

This is a fun event, full of demos, free trainer and vet consulting, training clinics, informational presentations, games and vendors. Admission is $10/adult, $5/child.