Cleveland Dog Park Tour: The Downtown Dog Park

This is the first post in the new Cleveland Dog Park Tour series! The posts will give the low down on local dogs parks, providing details on special features, the typical crowd and whatever else is interesting about the park and the surrounding area. And, best of all – the posts are submitted by you! Dogs in the CLE readers will be contributing each Dog Park Tour post.

First up – the newly opened Downtown Dog Park.  The dog park, about 3,500 square-feet in size, opened last October and is located at Settlers Park, an open area near the RTA station on the eastern bank of the Cuyahoga River. This post is submitted by Clair Labutta, and features photos of her dog Tucker.

Downtown Dog Park

The details: There are double gates and poop bag stations but no water dishes. Rules are posted in a pretty obvious place at the entrance. (The park also features a ramp play structure for extra dog fun!)


Busy times: Outside of the after work hour it’s pretty quiet – I think groups are sporadically there on the weekends too especially if the weather is good.

The crowd: Probably best for smaller dogs or calmer large dogs as it’s a small park so if you have more than one or two energetic large pups they might run out of space to play!


What’s nearby: There is also a path along the river to walk before/after going. Merwin’s Wharf is nearby and their patio is dog friendly.

Thanks Clair! If you’re interested in reviewing your local park, drop me a line at

There’s a new dog park downtown!

The Downtown Dog Park officially opened yesterday thanks to the generous donations of Cleveland residents. The 4,500 acre dog park is located at Settlers Park, an open area near the RTA station on the eastern bank of the Cuyahoga River.

The Downtown Cleveland Alliance started a campaign over the summer to raise funds for the dog park with a goal of raising $10,000, which the Alliance would match dollar-for-dollar. They met their goal last month, with the majority of donations coming from downtown residents. Surprisingly, donations also came from as far as New York City, Orlando and Raleigh, North Carolina. Probably because people are starting to catch on to what a great city Cleveland is for dog lovers!

According to the DCA, this is the three year temporary home for the park. There are plans in the work to develop a mixed-used park called Canal Basin Park, which, if the dog park is successful, would house the park permanently. Read more about that project here:

Hunter and I weren’t able to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony, but I received some photos courtesy of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance. Looks like a fun dog park, Hunter and I will definitely be checking it out soon!

downtowndogpark2dog park dog park1Check out our Dog Parks page for a listing of dog parks in Cleveland.

All photos courtesy of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance.

It’s Halloween time!

It’s that time of year again! Time to dress up your dog and have him strut his cute stuff around town. Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. I love seeing dogs and kids all dressed up in funny costumes. If you’re looking for a reason to dress up your dog this year, I’ve rounded up some of the best dog friendly Halloween events to hit up this month.

And, if you’re still in the market for a Halloween costume, Groupon has a whole bunch of coupons for PetSmart (including $25 off a $100 order and a great Halloween sale) for you to get your dog’s costume or whatever other supplies he needs. Check it out at:

Here’s what to do with your dog this Halloween season:

Oct. 12
Monster Mutt Dash and Howl-O-Ween After Party

Dress up your dog and take him for a run or walk at the Monster Mutt Dash! The Berea Animal Rescue Fund hosts this 5K run/ 1 mile walk every year to raise funds for the homeless animals in their care. This year the event is being held at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds. After the run/walk there is a free Halloween party filled with lots of fun events for you and your dog. Visit for more info.

Photo from last year's Monster Mutt Dash
Photo from last year’s Monster Mutt Dash

Oct. 18
Dash for Dobes Spooktacular

This 1 mile walk or 5K run benefits Hand Me Down Dobes, a Doberman rescue group. The run/walk will be held at Sunny Lake Park in Aurora. Register online at

Oct. 18
Spooky Pooch Parade

This is your chance to dress up your dog and enter him in a parade!  A favorite of mine every year, the parade shows off the very best in creative dog costumes. In addition to the parade, there will be over 30 vendors at Kaufman Park in Lakewood. Prizes will b awarded for best costume. Check out for more information.

 Photo from last year's Spooky Pooch Parade
Photo from last year’s Spooky Pooch Parade


Oct. 25 Halloween Family Fun Barkival

This event will benefit several area rescues and includes games, drawing and raffles, adoptable dogs and a dog and kid Halloween costume contest. Visit the event’s Facebook page for more information on this family fun event.

Oct. 25
First Annual Muttley Crue Fall Fest

Muttley Crue is hosting their first annual Fall Festival. The event will have numerous local rescues and shelters with adoptable animals and vendors. There will also be a doggie costume parade and contest. Visit for more info.

Oct. 23
Yappy Hour DogtoberFest

Pet-Tique’s annual Halloween costume party with Inn The Dog House starts at 5:00pm and will have beer, wine and food, all to benefit the Friends of the Cleveland Kennel. Pet-Tique will also be debuting their newest winter coats and sweaters with a costume contest and raffles prizes. Pet-Tique will also provide free nail trims and pet massages.

So, what will your dog be dressed up as this Halloween?

*This post was sponsored by Groupon, but the opinions are my own. I love a good deal, so I thought you might too.


Inside The Barkley Pet Hotel

Planning a fabulous vacation for yourself but can’t bring your dog along? You may want to send him off to The Barkley Pet Hotel & Day Spa for a vacation of his own. This “pet hotel” located in Orange markets itself as a luxury hotel for dogs and offers upscale accommodations plus many unique activities designed to keep your dog entertained and distracted from missing you while you’re away.

I recently took a tour of the 15,000 square foot facility led by Jessi Buehman, Customer Service Manager at The Barkley. Although I was impressed with their accomodations, what mostly set it apart from other boarding facilities for me is their level of customization and the unique activities they can offer dogs staying there. Depending on your dog’s personality and your budget, you can give him a fairly typical boarding experience with just a few exercise breaks or you can add on any number of activities to enhance your dog’s time away from home.

The hotel offers four different boarding options for pets – leisure suites, serenity suites, executive poolside suites and parkside suites. In addition to dog boarding, cats can stay at the Barkley in their “Kittie City” accommodations.

The leisure and serenity suites are comparable to what most other boarding places offer, although a little fancier and the serenity suites cater specifically to smaller dogs. The poolside suites offer exactly what you’d think – rooms facing a small pool, but they also offer window views for most of the rooms and larger accommodations so it’s a good option if you have multiple dogs to board or your dog would enjoy a window view. They also have a room known as the “Director’s Suite” a large room near the poolside suites, which has leather furniture, a TV and a prime window view of the lobby.

The Director's Suite
The Director’s Suite

The Parkside suites offer rooms in a park-like setting, with a trickling water fountain in the middle for the soothing sounds of water. Rooms in the poolside and parkside area also have TVs (you don’t want your dog to miss out on his favorite show!) and webcams so that you can keep an eye on your dog.

You can also purchase “add ons” to make your dog’s experience more exciting. One nice add on – since The Barkley is also a doggie day camp – is that boarders can take advantage of the day camp to get extra outside playtime. Possible other add ons include: personal play/cuddle time, bedtime biscuits, room service for a “Barkley steak,” ice cream socials, swimming, bedtime stories/tummy rubs, among others. You can even can purchase an add on for a trip to McDonald’s for your dog and select what item off the menu can be ordered for him. Buehman said they are also looking to add on some new activities, considering arts and crafts and sno-cones for the dogs.

All dogs get three exercise breaks and continuous water, as well as comfy bedding. When you drop your dog off you fill out a detailed profile of his or her personality, including likes/dislikes, behaviors, medical history and special needs. If there are special details for the staff to know about your dog, they make a note of it on a board outside of his room. So if your dog is food aggressive, doesn’t get along with other dogs or has allergies or other issues, they will be careful to accommodate his or her needs.

In addition to being a boarding facility, the Barkley has a grooming salon for dogs. The full service grooming salon offers many unique services such as hair coloring and nail painting, otherwise known as “pawdicures.”  They also offer other luxury spa services such as “mud masks” and their “Celebrity Package” which includes teeth brushing, a pawdicure, mud mask, facial and head massage. What dog wouldn’t love a mud mask followed by a head massage?

The dog in the middle looks pretty excited about getting her nails done, doesn’t she?

One other cool feature they offer is photographs of your dog on their red carpet, because who doesn’t think their dog deserves celebrity treatment?


Each day the front desk is responsible for taking three pictures of each boarding dog to send to the owners. Pretty cool feature for owners missing their furry friends!

What do you think? Would your dog enjoy the VIP treatment of a place like this?

* All photos copyright 2014 The Barkley

For more info, visit:

FlipFlop Dogs

Whether it’s for a couple hours, or a weekend, leaving your dog is one of the most stressful things you have to deal with as a dog owner. I recently came across an interesting service being offered in the Cleveland area, FlipFlop Dogs. FlipFlop provides an alternative to kenneling, placing dogs in homes for full-time pet sitting.

FlipFlop Dogs’ service, which started in 2011, places dogs in homes with “Companion Families.” The service carefully selects their families, doing background checks and interviews, to find the best homes for dogs. FlipFlop says that the families don’t watch the dogs to make money, but rather most are families or retirees who just love dogs. FlipFlop service also includes door-to-door, chauffeur driven transport for your dog to alleviate the stress and anxiety of being left behind.

For more details on this service and the companion families, read on for my Q&A with Lindsay Arko, Director of Franchise Support at FlipFlop Dogs.

How did the idea for FlipFlop Dogs come about?
We have spent our careers in the pet industry, so when it was time to look for another opportunity, our love of dogs prompted us to look for an alternative to kenneling. Fortunately our friends living in England mentioned an alternative to kenneling they discovered in England. We began researching this innovative idea and found Barking Mad, Home from Home Pet Care to offer the most professional services, having been in business for 10 years. Using Barking Mad as our model, FlipFlop® now provides safe, loving home-environment vacations for dogs in the U.S.

Tell us about some of the companion families in Cleveland.

Our Companions are amazing people! All of our Companion Families love dogs.  Some are actively retired who have had dogs all their lives, but now enjoy the freedom and flexibility of caring for dogs on vacation.  Others are younger, often in graduate school, teachers, or young families who can’t have the full time responsibility of a dog….and then there are the families that just really want to have an occasional playmate for their own dog.

How do you choose the families? Do most have other dogs?

We make it our first priority to provide carefully selected, personally inspected (homes) and even background-screened Companions for our customers and their dogs. Our Companion Families are often active retired, widowed, and retired military veterans who would prefer the privacy, safety and support FlipFlop Dogs offers so that they can focus on what they like to do best – care for dogs! Although, customers don’t visit Companion Families homes, our Companion profiles give exact details as to where their dog will be staying and we provide communication by phone, video, pictures and text to our customers (as little or as much as requested).

If you like a family can you use them again?

Absolutely, our goal is to match your dog up with a Companion your dog will enjoy spending time with every time you go on vacation!

What requirements do you have for the families as far as the amount of time they need to be home with the dog they are watching?
We require that our Companions are not working outside of the home when watching dogs for FlipFlop.  The dogs are not left unattended for more than 2-4 hours per day although other than going to dinner, the grocery or an occasional errand – Companions really enjoy spending time at home with their guest!

Looking to start your own pet business? FlipFlop is looking to grow, adding 2 to 3 more franchises in the Cleveland area and needs franchise owners. Interested parties can find out more here or contact Lindsay Arko at 440-387-4584.