Gulf Shores 2011

A year later you say? What the dog is wrong with you?

The private pier at our bayside cottage. Whiskey loved running back and forth on it.

Oh… I don’t know. I always start out with the best intentions of blogging in a timely fashion but I guess I have to admit that I am not a timely person. We are not a particularly timely family. The blog fails also, in timeliness at least.

But a year later, as I’m about to head to the beach for a very short trip….I decided I needed to get this information out. If I had actually written this in a prompt manner I imagine it would have a lot more flair, but as is, we will have to accept the writing in my dusty folds of memory, details pulled out like spider webs from these photographs.

beach stroll

I have to unfortunately say, that of the places we’ve gone with the dog, the town of Gulf Shores was one of the most dog *Unfriendly* places we’ve ever been. The dogs are not allowed on the beaches (unless you rent a private house with rights to the private beach either by being directly on it –think Ft. Morgan Beach- or across from it (bayside of Ft. Morgan, which is what we did).

This isn’t the thing that earns them the title of most unfriendly dog town… it’s the people. When I asked on FB on Gulf Shores’s page (for two years in a row) about dog friendly places and restaurants the haters came out of the woodworks. I got slammed for how disgusting I was for bringing my dog to a restaurant or into a shop. I was told a lot of mean things. I even got an eye roll worthy “Bless Her Heart” implying what an idiot I was for asking. That same gentleman said he wanted people to list the names of the dog friendly restaurants so he could Never Eat There Again and complain to their management. Really? Get a freaking life. How much hatred these people had.  None of them dog owners (at least, I hope!), and none of them seeming kind or loving. I wonder if there’s a correlation between that… hmm. Either way, for two years in a row I’ve take a boat load of verbal abuse when posting on their page that was both sad and misinformed. First of all, all dog owners in America know that almost everywhere (at least everywhere I’ve been) dogs must be kept outside due to health department regulations. The dogs will be outside on cafe sidewalks or porches. I never have seen a disruptive dog at a restaurant. But god forbid anyone tell this to the “good people” of Gulf Shores. I have however, seen lots of disruptive children ahem ahem.

Now, don’t think I’m trying to dissuade you from bringing Fido. I’m not. Bring him. Involve him. Prove to people that dogs are our families and will be included in our lives. Even vacations. That’s what we are all about here at WotR! We will keep bringing Whiskey to Gulf Shores. We just won’t have any delusions about him being allowed in any stores or outside of restaurants.  But don’t despair! There is tons for you and your dog to do at the beach! Read below to get some suggestions 🙂

Where we stayed: Fort Morgan Beach (Gulf Shores, Alabama), Bayside, in this cabin: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bay-Cabin-Rental/149736478394602

http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p285990

The rates were very acceptable for the amazing view! You have your own pier and even though the house is close to other houses you have an extreme sense of privacy because of the lay of the land and landscaping.

A collage of some of the cabin pictures. It felt cozy, like an artists retreat.

The cabin has the feel of an eclectic artists retreat and was just what we needed. If my mom and brother hadn’t been staying across the road on the beach side I don’t think we would have left. We spent a lot of time watching the water, admiring the art in the house, fishing and grilling. The only two strange (complaint would be too harsh a word) things that happened were this. We arrived and the entire fridge was cleaned out. I had advised Brandon NOT to buy condiments when we went grocery shopping for our trip. I told him, wise in my years of homey person to person rentals that “the fridges *ALWAYS* have left overs in them. Condiments, sometimes unopened food, and even a few times- beer!!” The owners, I assured him, of these type of rentals leave these things because it’s more of a “homey rental” not the pristine everything-must-be-thrown-away rentals you’ll get through an agency. But we get there and the fridge is… empty. We had to make a run for condiments and extras. I can’t recall exactly now.. but I think we took ours with us, deciding, if they’re just going to throw out peoples stuff we’ll take it home and use it! When we left we received a call that actually scared me. The lady wanted to know a) where all the stuff from inside the fridge was and b) where her very nice fluffy pillow top was… to one of her beds. Now, this is a year later so I might be getting the exact name of the thing wrong. Maybe it was a pillowtop, maybe it was a comforter. Either way it was GONE. And apparently it was pretty big. We didn’t have it, I assured her, nor did we have her fridge full of stuff. I explained to her we hadn’t seen either of these things in our stay there. But it nearly gave me a heart attack!! There were several phone calls and back and forths as she tried to figure out what was going on with her cleaned out cabin fridge and pillowtop… She called back later and explained that she thought the cleaning lady had mistakenly thrown out the items and had taken the cover to clean. All I kept thinking was, omg, am I going to be charged for this stuff? The lady was super nice. I mean REALLY nice. We liked her a lot, and hope to go back and stay at her cabin again if she’ll let us, but the experience really shocked me. To this day I wonder, did the cleaning lady fess up to doing this or did the lady just assume this and say it to make us feel more relaxed, assuming we were the innocent ones. I guess we’ll never know! Unless we try to book again and she says…um…no. LOL.  Regardless of our uncomfortable game of “who took the stuff” at the end I HIGHLY (cannotsayitenough) HIGHLY Recommend you stay here. Super dog friendly. Super awesome.

If you need other suggestions on how to find a dog friendly rental see our previous post on the topic.

What we did: Dog parks! Hiking! Beach trips! Gulf Shores has a dog park. We hear there is one in Orange Beach, but I haven’t been. We’ll check it out this go round. The Gulf Shores Dog Park didn’t have a web page that I could find, just a listing of it’s address at: 308 Clubhouse Drive. I’ll blog about it soon. No. Really! I promise. Just you watch and see.

Hiking links: Gulf Shores Park and Rec parks, Bon Secour, Hugh S Branon trail system.

No restaurants with Whiskey.  We had a horrible experience at Cosmos which is supposed to be dog friendly. We arrived and were told we couldn’t eat on the deck because of approaching storms. We had a dog so we were screwed. We couldn’t go inside! We placed a to go order. It took nearly two hours to get our food during which time we had to sit on the deck with no food and no one checking on us. By the time we left with our food I was beyond exhausted and people were being seated all around us on the deck and being allowed to have appetizers and drinks… Really? But we couldn’t sit out there and eat? With our dog at an alleged dog friendly restaurant? This is another reason we vote Gulf Shores Least Dog Friendly Town. Oh, and it never stormed or even rained the entire two hours we waited on the deck. I don’t know what was up with management that night… but we left without complaint, and shuffled home at a late hour to eat in our beach house (located about 45 minutes away) with our dog. We had also been told that two other restaurants allowed dogs but when we checked with them (BEFORE going. We learned our lesson with Cosmos!!!) they all told us they had gotten in trouble with the Health Department and could no longer serve dogs on their decks. One said we could get food and go a ways off to some picnic tables that weren’t quite part of the restaurant and eat… yeah. No.

On a positive note I’ve heard that Dauphin Island (just a quick trip across Mobile Bay) is *extremely* dog friendly. We may be checking this out next year. We’ll see how they compare!

Where to go without the dog: Cosmo’s food was extremely good, but be forewarned by our horror story. Probably best to just go without the dog. Also, the public beach does not allow dogs, so if you go there, leave Fido at home. They have a HUGE fine. Shopping! There are a lot of fun places to shop in Gulf Shores. I love trolling the local Souvenir City and David’s Gallery to name a few.  Tanger outlet and Old Time Pottery are also always on my shopping tour.

Enjoying a sunset walk

Writer’s note: After such negative slamming from the “locals” on Gulf Shores fb page when asking about dog friendly locations I was told by whomever posts as their page that their media relations person would contact me to help give me more information in a positive slant about where to go with dogs in their town (after I explained I was a blogger for families that choose to travel responsibly with their dog).

I was never contacted.

PS! I have a video for this blog of Whiskey running from the waves and swimming in the ocean. Unfortunately I couldn’t get it to load! I will post it in a separate post later 🙂
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3 Responses to Gulf Shores 2011

  1. Jellybean says:

    I LOVE that cabin!!!

  2. frogland@gmail.com says:

    I have two dogs, and I love them. But you – like many dog-owners – seem to be a little confused.

    Dogs aren’t children. They’re animals. That means that most people don’t want to see your dog in a restaurant, have your dog jump on them at the park, or watch it poop on the beach. Your canine companion may be adorable to you but to other people it may be annoying, frightening, offensive or just disgusting.

    As a responsible owner it’s up to you to realize this. Rather than demanding to bring your dog everywhere, try to bring it only where it’s wanted. And remember, it’s a dog, not a child.

    • Gina V says:

      Thanks for the comment and concern. But no worries, I’m not confused. I don’t demand to take my dog everywhere. I want to know where he is welcome and only go there. I go lots of fun places without him. On purpose! And would never dream of taking him. I advocate for people to never bring their dogs into areas they are not allowed, including parks, restaurants, public places. Lots of places have no dogs allowed policies and I am totally cool with that. I try really hard to find these policies and post them. But the main part of what we do here is find places that DO allow dogs and tell people so they can take their dogs so their dogs will have opportunities to be well exercised, and well socialized in a variety of situations with a variety of people and places. I hate that too many people have “lawn ornament” dogs that they never do anything with, or never bring into the house because they’re “too out of control” or “too much of a problem.” If those people would get out and do things with their dogs and spend time with them (which is what I’m hoping this blog will inspire people to do!) then they should see improvement in those behaviors. They are animals. They are not children. I have never believed for a second my dog is a child. That’s crazy! We don’t have kids and I will say that having a dog certainly adds a lot of fun and entertainment to our household at the end of the day! He is a member of our pack, our family. But he’s a dog. NOT a child. It’s possible that my point about complaining about Gulf Shores gets a little muddled so I’ll be clear. People were nasty and rude to me online- 2 years in a row just because I asked the simple question “are there any dog friendly places to stay, play, eat at in GS?” I will never bring my dog where he’s not allowed. But the attitude and rudeness I’ve gotten and continue to get from this section of GS people who seem to miss the point that I’m asking where dogs are allowed so I can blog about it- not asking why you don’t want my dog around (*again* so won’t bring him where he’s not allowed!) is what gained GS the least dog friendly city we’ve visited thus far. I hope if you’re actually reading the rest of the blog and not just this isolated post you’ll see what we are about- about helping people who want to get out and hike and play with their dogs in their community find a way to do so. Lastly, my dog would never jump on anyone at a park, because he is ALWAYS leashed and we never approach anyone without their permission for him to say hello. And anyone who follows our fb page and blog know how we feel about behaving well in public and being good ambassadors to those who aren’t dog lovers. I believe no dogs should be off leash unless in an approved area, and at least where I actually live and play the only place you can do that are the local fenced dog parks. That’s part of what being a responsible dog owner is. I think you’ve misread who we are and I hope if you stick around and read more you’ll see that we agree on these things! Happy and peaceful trails to you and your dogs 🙂 -g

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