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Stowe: mountain town is a treat for dogs

The Trapp Family Resort in Stowe offers an agility training course for dogs.
The Trapp Family Resort in Stowe offers an agility training course for dogs.Cindy Telley

STOWE, Vt. — Ten years ago, bringing your dog on vacation with you meant that you were limited to camping or making reservations at a handful of inns and resorts. Times have changed for man’s best friend. Dogs in Stowe can order from the menu, have an in-room massage, hire sitters, walkers, and enjoy a host of other luxuries once reserved for the two-legged guests. They can also join their pet parents at local restaurants and bars, run off leash on Stowe’s recently designed “quiet path” and attend agility summer camps. Looks like a good summer to take your dog to the Green Mountains.

“We are so used to pets that we try to make their stay here as nonrestrictive as possible. The way we see it is that whether you are four-legged or two-legged, you are our guest,” says Topnotch Resort manager Bob Sassani. That welcoming doggy vibe permeates Stowe.

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Charles Safford, Stowe’s town manager, has seen dogs become more and more a part of everyday life in Stowe. He says that 20 or 30 years ago, no one would even think about bringing their dog into the town offices, but now, “Where people go, their dogs go.” Stowe Parks and Recreation has responded by creating a 1.8-mile walking path where dogs can run off-leash as long as they are under voice control. They are also welcome on the Stowe Recreational Bike Path, a 5½-mile paved route that runs along the West Branch River.

More evidence of the community’s commitment to dogs and keeping Stowe beautiful occurs each year on May 2, Vermont’s annual Green Up Day. Just last year, Stowe resident Mary Windler decided to create Stowe Doodie Day, “a citizen-driven initiative that infuses some fun into poop-scooping in our public spaces and serves as a fund-raiser for the North County Animal League.” Friends and neighbors gather at the Rusty Nail, a local hot spot, and then head out to collect and dispose of all the poop they can find. They then meet back at the Rusty Nail to celebrate their efforts and hang out with dogs.

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The result of all this community engagement is that dogs and their owners find Stowe is a great place to vacation. Most restaurants welcome dogs on their decks and are happy to bring water for thirsty pooches. Gracie’s, Norma’s at Topnotch, and Burt’s Irish Pub all make room for visiting canines. Bringfido.com, a travel site that helps people find pet-friendly activities and lodging lists 12 hotels and resorts in Stowe that welcome pets in at least some of their guest rooms.

One of those resorts, the Trapp Family Lodge, with miles and miles of walking and mountain biking trails, makes it easy to run and explore with your dog.

Lynne von Trapp said, “About 10 years ago, attitudes about dogs at the resort started to change. We’ve always welcomed service dogs, but now all dogs come right into the main lodge and get their own special treatment.”

Part of this change has come about because von Trapp is a dog lover. She is also a member of Northern Magic Agility Dogs, a club of agility enthusiasts based in Northern Vermont. Lynne trains and competes with her dog, Brill. This summer the Trapp Family Resort will once again host three NOMAD events. One is an agility camp on May 28 and 29 offering an opportunity to train with top trainers.

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For visitors who simply want to hike with their dogs in the Green Mountains, there is a wide variety of trails in and around Stowe. Moss Glen Falls Trail, The Cotton Brook Loop in Mount Mansfield State Forest, and the Sterling Pond Trail in Smuggler’s Notch, to name a few. If fresh air, beautiful scenery, and exercise while enjoying the companionship of your dog is your goal, then man’s best friend might be the many opportunities to do that in Stowe.


Darcy and Dale Cahill can be reached at darcy.cahill@myfairpoint.net.