Tag Archives: dogs

Road trippin’ with your dog, Florida-style

Calypso and I tour the Sunshine State every chance we get. Here’s how I keep her cool.

Since Calypso came home with me, she’s been my constant companion in all sorts of endeavors; her stubby wiener legs have seen more excitement than most. She’s better at paddleboarding than most dogs, “works” as CL’s Barketing Director, and has her own Twitter and Facebook pages.

“She’s so calm!” people exclaim when they see her. “How did you do that?”

She’s not calm, I joke with people; she’s exhausted. While it’s tempting to think of her as a human companion, she isn’t — she not only has more fur (even if I am Italian), she can’t verbalize her needs. In the summer, that means I need to take extra steps to keep her healthy, safe and hydrated. Here’s what I’ve learned about keeping a hot dog chill in the summer:

• Seeing red! When we kayak, I tie a red bandana around her neck. If something should go horribly wrong, the red is highly visible from above and afar. Also, I can periodically remove it from her, dip it in the water, and wring it out over her fur.

• Along those lines, think about your pup’s fur: I had a Dalmatian once, and I had to put sunscreen on her snout and behind her ears when we went to the beach. White fur lets the skin underneath burn. Calypso has long black and tan fur, so sunburn isn’t an issue, but it gets wicked hot; I try and keep her fur wet when we’re outside so she doesn’t overheat (if you have a dark-furred dog, feel his fur after a 15-minute walk in July and you’ll see what I mean).

• Watch the paws! Fur isn’t the only thing that gets hot; your dog’s paw pads can burn, too. I learned this the hard way, and there’s nothing that breaks your heart more than a dog limping because of blisters on her paws. Here’s an easy way to tell if the pavement’s too hot: Place your palm on it. If it burns your palm, it will burn your dog’s paws.

• Pups need water. You can buy all sorts of collapsible dishes, and if you’re outside in the summer odds are you have a water bottle with you already. At a minimum, carry a water bottle with a top your dog can use for a bowl. How can you know if your pooch is dehydrated? Pull a but of her skin away from her body; if it snaps back right away, she’s fine. If it takes a second or longer to go back into place, she needs water.

• Give them pupsicles. If you have a dog that won’t drink when he’s warm, look into pupsicles — doggy popsicles. They keep pups hydrated but your dog feels like he’s getting a food treat. Win/win.

• Lifejackets are a (sometimes uncomfortable) necessity on a boat, especially for a dog. It didn’t take our dogs too long to get used to theirs, but they do get hot inside all that lifesaving gear. Keep your dogs’ fur wet, keep them hydrated and, every chance you get, tell them they look cute.

This article originally appeared in Creative Loafing.

Road Trip: Puppy love in the Florida Keys

For years I’ve wanted to stay at White Gate Court in Islamorada. The idea of a dog-friendly — truly dog-friendly, as in, “we love dogs everywhere on our property” — appealed to me. So, this May, we piled the hellhounds in the Xterra and forced them to enjoy themselves in the Keys.

Calypso — White Gate Court
Calypso takes a break from paradise.

It worked out well for all of us and, it turns out, even though dogs matter more than humans at White Gate Court, it’s still a pretty awesome place for people.

Also, Calypso has a boyfriend.

I wrote more about this for Creative Loafing Tampa back in May; here’s the link.

Puppy Love at White Gate Court in Islamorada

Calypso the dachshund and friends find a canine paradise in Islamorada.

White Gate Court, MM 76, Islamorada, 800-645-GATE, whitegatecourt.com.

Calypso has a new boyfriend. His name is Fred and he works security at the resort. Sure, some say it’s a go-nowhere job and he may never amount to more than the typical Keys slacker, but you can’t tell Calypso anything: She’s in love. And who can blame her? It’s not every day she meets a guy who still has his testicles.

Welcome to White Gate Court, where luxury for people takes a backseat to your dog’s pleasure. The seven cottages stay booked constantly, but, given that White Gate Court boasts typical Keys charm (more on that in a moment), it’s likely because of the dog amenities: Calypso spent her vacation off leash, free to hop up on the beach chairs and chase lizards around the coconut palms, and she was more than welcome on the beach. Throughout the property dogs find tennis balls and bowls of water. Think of it as a Hedonism Resort for pups, because there’s nothing your dog wants for here (except, perhaps, squirrels to chase, those having left for less-dog-friendly pastures, I imagine). It’s perhaps the only resort where the dogs matter more than the bipedal guests.

“It really is all about the dogs,” the general manager, Jane Annara, confirms as Calypso flirts with the young Fred.

Fred the dachshund at White Gate Court in Islamorada.
NOTHING BUT A HOUND DOG: Fred charms all the ladies at White Gate Court, even if he won’t sit still for a decent photo.

Despite the human amenities — gratis bike and kayak usage, grills, kitchenettes, spectacular location — from a human point of view, this bayside retreat doesn’t offer luxury. The opposite, actually.

Attention, Keys newbies: With a few pricey exceptions, you won’t find much in the way of traditionally luxe accommodations in the Keys. Sure, there’s Little Palm Island ($700 a night in the off-season) and a handful of others, but good luck letting your dog roll in seaweed at any of those.

You’ve heard the marketing slogan “things are different here,” but in the Keys, that’s simply truth in advertising. The entire chain of islands has a heady scent of salt and mildew mixed with coconuts; you won’t hear live bands, but the island thrums with tides and breezes, which means two things: One, you’re not in Kansas anymore, and two, you’re in their world now. Their world, I should note, includes the best saltwater in the U.S. but also scorpions, mosquitoes, and multiple messes of iguanas. Your hotel room, too, is on a different level, and it ain’t the level of our beloved TradeWinds. You will see bugs; you should expect this and it doesn’t mean the place is dirty, it means you’re in the wild and salty backcountry. Your room may need minor repairs that probably won’t inconvenience you. Sandy beaches? Not even a little; they’re limestone with a scattered covering of soft white chunky sand the seasoned diver will tell you is parrotfish shit.

Accounting for all that, if I believed in Creationism I’d tell you the Keys are the real Garden of Eden, but I value sandy feet over pedicured ones, I’m obsessed with the turquoise and cobalt water and dream about fuchsia shocks of bougainvillea. Paradise completes itself at White Gate Court, where Calypso can’t be banned from the nonexistent pool or restaurant, but can explore the dock, kayak launch, and steps leading down to the water.

CREATURE COMFORTS: Coconuts and bougainvillea for the humans at White Gate Court in Islamorada.

CREATURE COMFORTS: Coconuts and bougainvillea for the humans.

The place needs work — while it’s far from run-down, our cottage needs a new bathroom, but, as the manager told us, it’s never vacant long enough to make the upgrade. And no wonder: Upon our arrival, we found wine chilling in the fridge, red hibiscus bouquets in the kitchen and bathroom and sprays of blushing bougainvillea spilling onto every available surface. Honestly, we didn’t need a one-bedroom: We spent our days outside, swimming or reading or floating, and, for the most part, we grilled instead of using the kitchen. The room didn’t matter to us as much as vacationing on a limestone piece of paradise with our dogs.

Most Keys motels allow dogs, but I wouldn’t call them “dog-friendly;” I’d call them “dog-tolerant:” Leash your dog, don’t leave her alone in the room, keep him off the beach. White Gate Court doesn’t have rules.

It does have Fred. He’s no doubt met another dog by now — perhaps a comely Cairn terrier — but Calypso’s still planning a return trip. She didn’t mind the bathroom, loved rolling in the sand (see: parrotfish shit) and. As for us? Sure, the Islander up the street has a touch more luxury, but for me, being able to enjoy the Keys with my dog trumps a hot tub and $13 hamburgers any day. 

This piece originally appeared in the 2016 Creative Loafing Summer Guide, when Cathy was the arts + entertainment editor for the Tampa paper. If you’re wondering, Hurricane Irma in 2017 only made White Gate Court stronger. Read Cathy’s coverage of that here.