Alexandria Has Been Named One Of The Best Cities For Pet Owners. Here Are The Locations That Are Making It Happen.
Northern Virginians are known for their devotion to their pets. And once you get to Alexandria, the pet mania becomes even more intense. This city has gone to the dogs, with limitless pet-friendly drinking and dining options as well as lavish spa treatments.
Alexandria is a dog lover's paradise. Mars Petcare has named it a "Better City for Pets," one of only a few dozen metropolitan areas in the country (and the only one in Virginia) to receive the honor. Why? There are 18 dog parks and exercise facilities, both fenced and open, waste stations strategically placed throughout the city, and a plethora of animal-friendly businesses in this metropolis of 160,000 people and an estimated 80,000 pets. There aren't many cities where your dog can receive a blueberry facial.
The award was also accompanied by monetary compensation. In addition to the accreditation, Mars also gave the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria a grant to research and extend the availability of pet-friendly housing around the city.
The ALX Dog Walk will take place on April 2nd for the first time. This month, dogs from all over the DMV will congregate in Oronoco Bay Park for a 2-mile walk. Their owners will pay $35 each to walk them around Old Town and enter them in contests such as Funniest Personality and Fluffiest Tail. All revenues will be used to enhance the city, including the planting of 20 trees, the refurbishment of King Street Gardens Park, and the establishment of a shoreline clean-up fund to handle garbage and litter along the Potomac River. ALXDogWalk.com requires registration in advance.
At the DC area's first "dog bar," you can now paint a portrait of your pet. Since fall 2020, Barkhaus, which was founded by a couple of Virginia Tech graduates, has been greeting hounds and their people. The latest buzz is about Paint Your Pet, a four-hour workshop taught by Sherry Kendall, an artist who has appeared on Oprah! Kendall will create a sketch of your pet from a photo before you arrive to paint on the canvas. Monthly classes (which sell out quickly) are held; the next one is on April 9.
The construction of a 6,000-square-foot indoor dog park is underway. Snouts & Stouts, a weather-proof location for your pet to play, debuts in early summer near South Pickett Street. You can help yourself to a glass of wine or a seltzer from the self-serve beer wall, which will include 10 to 15 brews on tap. Snouts & Stouts features a really interesting flushing technique to avoid the reek factor: when a dog urinates, it goes directly through the turf, which is subsequently cleansed with antibacterial cleaner. The Dog Patrol cleans up the heavier messes, and then the turf is treated in specific areas.
It is possible to find a canine massage therapist. VIP Pet Salon, home of the aforementioned blueberry facial, offers all of these services and more. The top groomer at the Old Town spa is a "dog stylist" who can use a keratin treatment to straighten your dog's hair and finish it with a flat-iron finish.
At Mount Vernon, dogs are welcome. As long as they don't startle the animals, they can sniff the flower gardens, wander along the Potomac, and visit the farm and cattle sections.
Also at Torpedo Factory. Dogs are welcome at the art center. It's the perfect indoor break following a longer stroll, thanks to its location directly on the lake.
Finally, a few words about cats. Dogs may get the majority of the attention, but cats aren't forgotten around here. To wit, the new Happy Cat Hotel & Spa, which offers "enrichment activities" via its Kitty Concierge and accommodates visitors in themed rooms up to 752 square feet. Mount Purrnon Cat Café + Wine Bar, the city's first cat café, launched in 2020. Relax with a glass of seltzer or mead, or warm up with a cup of coffee. Serious feline therapy is promised.