By Cubby with a little help from Scott Brown

Last June, the City of St. Petersburg won the 2019 Better Cities for Pets™ Award for large cities. This arguably gives St. Pete barking rights as one of the pet-friendliest cities in America. The St. Pete website includes a PAWS page that has an interactive map listing St. Pete’s dog-friendly restaurants, parks, accommodations, and services. There’s also an application form for those who want to have their business officially designated as ‘dog friendly.’

But as far as neighborhoods go, my impression is that the Old Northeast and other neighborhoods in our Northeast Journal territory are pretty close to dog paradise. However, not being a dog, I felt that my judgement might be biased. So I asked Cubby, our three-year old Bijon-Poo, what he thought. Cubby’s response to my question was so enthusiastic that I may have sustained some permanent hearing loss.

Once the barking died down, Cubby pointed out to me that Northeast St. Pete has some of the best dog walking anywhere. Many of our avenues are quiet and tree-lined with no shortage of interesting things to smell. The broad walkway from Coffee Pot Park to the Vinoy and beyond always has lots of friendly dogs taking their owners out for a walk. Cubby explained that his ‘research’ – compulsively smelling and then ‘autographing’ every lamp post and shrub on his walk – could take years to complete much less publish.

We actually made some new Northeast St. Pete friends through Cubby. My wife, Ellen, was walking Cubby along Coffeepot Bayou when a couple seated on a bench asked Ellen if that was Cubby walking with her. As it turns out, friends of ours, Eliot Wessler and Ellen Hays, had described us – Cubby included – to Jean and Denis Calandra, and they made the connection. Nice people. The encounter made me think that Cubby was becoming something of a Coffeepot celebrity.

In order to make his point about Northeast St. Pete being dog friendly, Cubby insisted that we visit Ashley and Lorenzo Hernandez, our neighbors down the street. Ashley quit her day job as a healthcare administrator to turn their home into a crate-free, all-inclusive luxury resort for dogs (Paw Prince Pet Care). Lorenzo, a doctor, comes home from a long day of caring for humans to a house full of canine guests, plus their own pets. Cubby stays with Ashley and Lorenzo when Ellen and I travel, and he loves the place. With his buddies, Cubby free-ranges through the house and the backyard until, after a long day, it is time to settle down on the couch to watch television with Lorenzo until bedtime, when guests and hosts curl up on the bed together for a well-earned night’s rest.

“So, what else do you like about Northeast St. Pete, Cubby?” I asked. Without hesitation Cubby went for his leash and harness and towed me the two blocks to Yogurtology on 4th St. In addition to fro-yo for people, they offer a special probiotic all-natural frozen yogurt for dogs. Cubby can’t resist the peanut butter and banana flavored cups. There are tables outside where Cubby and the rest of us can enjoy our frozen treats. Cubby is usually able to lick his way through his cup well before we finish ours. I speculate that because their snout is located outside of their cranium, dogs don’t get brain freezes.

Cubby was starting to really make his case about how great our neighborhood is for dogs, but I persisted, asking him for a few more examples. This is where the French Poodle in Cubby really came out. It’s about a mile south to Cubby’s favorite boutique, Pawsitively Posh Pooch in Old Northeast. This place, owned by Susan and Gene Nice, is completely dog crazy. The groomer – or as they term it, the Gucci Poochi Spaw – does a great job with Cubby. They also have Coco’s La Pawrisian Bistro where Cubby can get bonbons, do-mutts, or pup pizzas. Chanel’s Closet is a shop with an extensive selection of canine couture. I pray that my daughter never discovers this place or we are going to need to give Cubby his own walk-in closet.

It seems to me – and Cubby agrees – that St. Pete residents and business owners are without a doubt doing a great job of reciprocating the unconditional love all of us get from our canine companions. One more reason to love our new hometown.

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