From finding a pooch to where to hang once you have your new best friend, our guide to owning a dog in Indy.

How To Find A Dog Through A Rescue Group

rescue dogGetting a dog is easy—just visit your local animal shelter. But it’s a different story if you want a specific breed. Forget about purchasing one at a pet store, which the Humane Society strongly urges against because they’re almost always the sickly products of puppy mills. And buying a pedigreed puppy from a reputable breeder can take months and set you back three or four digits.

There is, however, another way. Breed-specific rescue groups specialize in rehoming everything from Pomeranians to Tibetan mastiffs that have been rejected by their previous owners. They’re sprinkled across the state and the nation. Ask your veterinarian, or check the comprehensive list on The American Kennel Club’s website.

But first, take time to research the variety you covet. “Not everybody can handle every breed,” says Cathy Nolan, president of Giant Paw Prints Rescue, a Valparaiso group that specializes in very large dogs. “You have to be prepared for their personality traits. For instance, German shepherds were originally herding dogs, and will nip at you to make you move.”

Breed rescue groups may require everything from a lengthy interview to an in-home visit. They aren’t in a hurry, because they want to make sure their charges, most of whom have already lost one home, don’t lose another.


A Dog Owner’s Guide To The Monon Trail

Yes, spring is coming, which means long walks on the Monon Trail. Here, the dog-friendly places you should know for breaks, bites, and beer.

Carmel

  • If your dogs are barking in the figurative sense, grab a seat at the southwest corner of Main Street and the Monon, where you can relax while your pup chomps at H2O shooting up from the interactive water feature.
  • Find seasonal water fountains with built-in dog bowls at Midtown Plaza, 1st Street SW, and the trailheads at 96th Street and Rohrer Road, which also have permanent restrooms. Poop bags running low? Scoop up reinforcements at 1st Street NW, 136th Street, and Greyhound Pass.
  • People- and dog-watching don’t get much better than at Midtown Plaza, Carmel’s hottest gathering spot, with ping-pong tables, cornhole, billiards, and a big-screen TV outside of Sun King Spirits and Fork + Ale House. Both restaurants’ al fresco seating areas accommodate canines. Get your pal a Taylor’s Bakery treat before taking your can of Pachanga outside.
  • For a change of scenery, detour off the Monon to explore the pathways that wind throughout Carmel’s Central Park.

Broad Ripple

  • A pint of Kristofferson pale ale sipped on Big Lug Canteen’s dog-friendly trailside patio should help you power through the expanse between Carmel and Broad Ripple.
  • Paws need a break from pounding the pavement? Follow the offshoot path to the shaded, packed-earth trails of Marott Park just south of 75th Street.
  • You and your pet can refuel on Cornell Avenue, where the outdoor spaces of Just Pop In!, Plump’s Last Shot, Books & Brews, and Broad Ripple Brewpub all welcome four-legged trail users and offer water for thirsty critters.
  • Reward your pooch for not pulling you toward that Goldendoodle with a stop at BRICS, which dishes out pet-friendly portions of whipped cream topped with peanut butter sauce from its walk-up window.
  • Hang on tight to the leash: The stretch between Broad Ripple Avenue and 54th Street is flanked by trees—and that means lots of squirrel activity.

dogs on mass ave

How To Spend Time On Mass Ave.

Spending a day on Mass Ave doesn’t require leaving your dog at home—quite the opposite, actually. Impatient pups might let you browse for only a few minutes at Indy Reads Books before pulling you across the street to City Dogs Grocery, which stocks Delectable Dane fro yo in flavors such as berry and peanut-butter bacon. That should keep them busy while you sample Napa-made reds and whites at Peace Water Winery, where pets are welcome, inside and out. You’ll need your dog’s strong sense of smell at Penn & Beech, a pour-your-own-candle spot with more than 100 scents (if only Puppy Breath and Frito Paws were among the options). Sniff out other home accessories and gift items at Homespun: Modern Handmade, Boomerang Boutique, and Silver in the City, where, if you ask nicely (heck, beg), they might snap a pic for their Dogs of Silver in the City Instagram page. At Pumkinfish, the tinkling bell on the door summons one half of the shop’s namesake, 15-year-old Pomeranian Pumkin, who can show you to the dog-friendly chicken broth–based beer and organic wine made from beet juice. If you’re ready for treats and drinks of your own, the patios at Mimi Blue, Hedge Row American Bistro, Fat Dan’s Deli, World of Beer, Tavern at the Point, and Ralston’s Drafthouse all accommodate four-legged companions. And if, after all that, your fellow explorer was a good boy or girl, surely they deserve a Puppuccino from the walk-up window at Starbucks or a carob-dipped “dino bone” treat from the case at Three Dog Bakery.  


How To Dog-Proof A Yard

Step one: Get a secure, escape-proof fence. If your dog is a jumper, that means something substantially taller than the standard chain-link model. If he’s a digger,
you’ll need something that’s flush to the ground. “And you still want to watch to make sure your dog doesn’t jump or dig out,” says Megan Bousley, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society for Hamilton County.

Another barrier should surround your garden—according to the ASPCA, tons of common flowers are dangerous to dogs if ingested. Fertilizers and herbicides are no good. Then there are the coyotes that live in every Indiana county; likewise, red-tailed hawks and bald eagles (which we totally have around here) can pluck pugs, Poms, and other fun-size breeds right out of yards. Which leads to the paramount rule for backyard safety: Pretty much every problem, from horking down mulch to burrowing to freedom to being carried off by our national symbol, can be avoided simply by not leaving your dog outdoors alone for long periods.

“Supervision,” says Bousley, “is absolutely key.”


How To Commission A Great Pet Portrait

dog portraitA handful of local shutterbugs specialize in the uniquely maddening art of getting animals to sit still for pictures. Furtography Studio (2116 E. 54th St, 217-497-4553) offers sessions complete with costumes and props (if your pet tolerates that sort of thing) and presents its finished shots in fine-art canvases or social media–ready digital files. Prices start at $299. If you’d like something even more rarefied, Indy artist Karen Seltzer, proprietor of Best in Show Pet Portraits, will do a custom oil painting of your pet. Each one takes a few weeks to complete, and they cost from $138 to just south of a grand. All the work is done from photos, so you don’t have to worry about getting your pet to hold still for a sitting.

For a cheap but cute option—say, your dog’s head Photoshopped onto the body of an 18th-century noble—find a vendor on Facebook Marketplace or the odd-job service fiverr.com. You might pay as little as you would for a couple cans of Alpo, with a turnaround as short as a few hours.


How To Play In The Cold

The thing to consider right now is that a dog’s ability to cope with the elements depends on its lineage and build. For instance, huskies and other Northern breeds boast thick “double coats” that protect them better than a North Face parka. But short-haired varieties such as pit bulls are wearing what amounts to a light windbreaker.

Assuming your dog won’t put up with booties, examine his paws—if the pads are naturally fuzzy, trim them so the hair doesn’t cause painful “snowballs” to clump between his toes during walks. If it’s snowy out, rinse your pet’s feet with warm water upon returning home. The streets are covered with road salt and other chemicals that can irritate a canine’s sensitive pads, and you don’t want them licking at that stuff.

And if the occasional hurried walk at freezing temperatures isn’t doing it for your dog, consider daycare. She’ll wear herself out socializing with other pooches, playing for hours under the watch of pros—a surefire cure for canine cabin fever.


How To Say Goodbye To A Pet

A wise person once said the only bad thing about dogs is that they don’t live long enough—a bitter truth well-understood by anyone who’s ever said goodbye to a beloved pet. But it may be comforting to know that when the fateful day finally arrives, several local companies offer the option of home euthanasia. A vet comes to your house, so that your pet can pass on in familiar surroundings, rather than spend his or her last moments in a sterile exam room.

Typically these firms charge a set fee for the home visit and services, which may be pegged to how far they have to drive to reach the pet in question. Most also offer the additional service (for a price) of immediate removal of the dog’s body, along with cremation services. A euthanasia visit from Twilight Services (317-773-8387) usually costs around $185. Pet Loss At Home (877-219-4811), a national network of veterinarians who provide in-home euthanasia, offers its basic services (no body removal) for $300 to $450. And Lap of Love (317-975-1950) charges $275. Lap of Love also offers such niceties as the collection of a plaster paw print and locks of hair from your pet.


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