The Texas Dog Lover's Companion

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9781573540452: The Texas Dog Lover's Companion
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This book describes the best places in Texas to visit with your four-footed friend. It covers nearly 500 parks and hundreds of dog-friendly motels, restaurants, and events. There's also a section on doggy dos and don'ts, travel tips, and hints on rooming with Rover. Author Larry D. Hodge and his canine assistants, Sport and Samantha, traveled 25,000 miles to seek out the best places to hie to with your hound. Each park is rated on a one- to four-paw scale, and complete descriptions are included for things to do in the park. Campgrounds are also described in detail. The thing that sets this book apart is that each park in the book was personally visited by the author, so if it's in the book, you know it is a fun, safe place to take your dog.

The book is organized around nine major cities and covers counties within about a two-hour drive.

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From the Author:

Carefree traveling with a dog in Texas requires either luck, careful planning, or a copy of this book. Only about three percent of the land in Texas is publicly owned, severely limiting the opportunities for outdoor recreation with a four-footed companion. And while many hotels and motels welcome dogs, the concept of people eating out in the company of a dog seems barely to have penetrated most of the state. That's why this book can be invaluable to you. I've included hundreds of dog-friendly parks, motels, restaurants, festivals, and tourist attractions throughout the state. Never again should you and your pooch have to spend a weekend at home memorizing wallpaper patterns. You can climb mountains, ride trains and surreys, get married in the middle of a public road, or gaze at the outer limits of the universe. The sky is no longer the limit.

Like most dogs, Sport and Samantha don't seem to care where they go, just as long as they go. The moment I step out the door and head for the car, they adopt that pleading look that says, "Utter those two little words I'm longing to hear: Kennel up!" Then the battle for the coveted front passenger seat is on. Possession changes mile by mile until finally it's time for a nap. Every gas stop requires scrubbing nose and paw marks off the inside of the windshield to restore visibility.

Samantha came to live with us first. She's half Australian blue heeler and half wedunno, but she's all appetite. We raised her from a tiny puppy, and apparently something about being the only dog at the trough during her formative years set her appestat permanently on "glutton." If there is anything she will not eat, we have not found it. This includes plastic shower curtains. The grounds around our house look like an artillery duel was fought here because of her avid pursuit of gophers. We tried putting her on a diet once; shortly thereafter we began to find (to put it delicately) digestively processed bird parts in the yard. Solving the mystery was alimentary. Samantha was stalking, flushing, catching, and eating meadowlarks. All that time spent chasing tennis balls served her well. She gained weight until we took her off the diet.

Sport is as sweet and well-mannered as Samantha is hyperactive and insecure. Sport moved in while I was on an extended trip to the Big Bend. During one of my periodic calls home to get the sugar report, Sally mentioned there was something we needed to talk about. I don't know about you, but when I'm 500 miles from home and having a good time, I don't ask a lot of questions about statements like that. Nothing more was said, and I forgot about it until I was driving down the lane to our house. There bounding toward me was a huge black hound that, I swore, could put both front feet on a giraffe's chest and lick it in the mouth. Close behind her sped Sally, assuring me before I even got out of the car that Sport was there just on a trial basis.

You don't need me to tell you how that turned out.

Sport is half Rhodesian ridgeback and half handsome stranger. While she stands thigh-high to an elephant, she is also the calmest, nicest dog I've ever been around. How nice is she? So nice that her head is not swelling even as she reads this. She is the ideal dog to have played the role of First Professional Traveling Dog of Texas. Other than one unauthorized encounter with a loaf of fresh-baked gingerbread, I don't think Sport has ever been guilty of a single crime. Well, there is that one large stain on our best rug, but its authorship is questionable, and Sally and I do sleep rather soundly sometimes.Raccoons are Sport's passion, a fact that you will be reminded of many times as you read this book. Samantha lives to eat; Sport lives to chase raccoons up trees and bark at them all night. When we visit parks together, Samantha heads straight for the garbage cans, and Sport heads straight for any trees, brush, or water. In between, holding onto both leashes, is me, feeling like a medieval miscreant being racked.

Most Texas dogs probably fall somewhere between Sport and Samantha, too. You'll probably recognize your own pooch in some of the adventures my dogs and I shared while researching this book. But if your dog has never charmed a class of third-graders on a field trip, rolled on a dead fish on the beach, or publicly humiliated you by depositing a steaming pile of used dog food on a downtown sidewalk, just wait. Your time will come.

About the Author:

Larry D. Hodge was born in Elgin, Texas; he now lives in Mason. He has been a free-lance writer for the last 15 years. He is a frequent contributor to Texas Highways magazine and is a contributing editor to Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. He is the author of other guidebooks, including Backroads of Texas (Gulf Publishing Co.), What's Fun in Texas (Republic of Texas Press, in press), and The Official Guidebook to Texas Wildlife Management Areas (Texas Parks and Wildlife Press and The University of Texas Press, in press).

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