Two paws up for dog-friendly Nantucket

“Is it a hunting dog?”

In response to the little girl’s excited voice, Odie, who had just been correctly identified, slid over to his new friend, wagging his tail and shaking his ass, eager for more play.

It was our first full day on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, and in our first hour at Jetties Beach, dog-friendly like all beaches on that island, Odie had made half a dozen friends and had received many compliments on her beauty. Before the dog-loving girls (in my own heart) came across our frolicking pup, Odie was playing fetch with two little boys, while my husband, Steve, and I were chatting with the parents. Before that, he and another dog (a goldendoodle, I’m guessing) performed the classic canine introduction of sniffing each other’s behinds before descending into a playful puppy pose and running in tight circles around each other. other.

Although Odie has traveled with us before – to Buffalo every year for Christmas with my family; in Montauk on Long Island once, years ago, for one night; and back home in Vermont every few weeks – he didn’t really take our vacations into account. Until this summer, we had never planned a dog-focused trip. We just brought Odie with us when it made sense.

Nantucket came to mind around March, when New York’s catastrophic weather inspires planning trips just to have something to look forward to amidst the gloom.

Steve and I are not Nantucket regulars, but we had a blissful few days on the island for our mini-moon in May 2016. I met a dog this trip, a beautiful Great Dane who I forgot the name, but whose face I never could.

In Massachusetts, a coastal town that feels like home

“We should come back here one day and bring Odie back. He would love that,” I remember telling Steve after noticing how seemingly every store and restaurant offered water bowls for dogs.

Between life and a pandemic, it took us six years to finally get back to the dog-friendly destination, where our #1 goal was to show Odie a good time.

I found pet-friendly accommodation at Regatta Inn, where the dog-friendly amenities more than made up for the discerning house dog, Stella, a long-haired dachshund about a quarter the size of Odie, who gave a low growl each time Odie graced the inn. lobby with its cheery wagglers and sweet demeanor. Nantucket Resort Collection general manager John Bottino said the inn only allowed dogs since it came on board in 2020. Previous owners didn’t like dogs, but Bottino said he’s changed politics, because he wanted to “create space for the next generation of Nantucket travelers, and those travelers want to travel with their dogs.

Obviously I’m biased towards dogs, with their sweet faces and sweet tempers, but I wasn’t at all surprised by the reception Odie received in Nantucket, where the golden-somethings seemed to be the dominant race.

For four days, our family of three explored the tiny island off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, playing by Cisco Beach and relaxing on the sand with books and Born & Bread sandwiches. Once the food was gone, even Odie, who until recently thought nothing of settling into this glittering environment, succumbed to exhaustion, dropping his 71-pound frame with a heavy sigh of limb stretching. Watching Odie go from 100 to zero, as an elderly dog ​​with creaky joints and tired eyes, is a constant reminder of how little time we have left with him.

Yet at almost 12 years old, Odie still plays like a puppy on a daily basis. His energy, no longer limitless but nonetheless remarkable, belies the fact that he requires more medical attention than Steve or me combined. Our rescue dog is on prescription medication to manage an autoimmune skin condition triggered by a splenectomy in May. While caring for Odie in his fragile post-op state, I was reduced to tears watching him navigate his recovery with a cone around his neck and painkillers that left him listless and unrecognizable.

In the Berkshires, small attractions pack a punch

Although Odie made a full recovery, Steve and I put aside notions of traveling abroad to spend more quality time with him – which brought us to Nantucket in mid-August via a high-speed ferry from Hyannis, Mass. We briefly considered flying with Odie through Tradewind Aviation, an aircraft operator with a small shuttle service offering direct flights from Westchester to New York. But Steve, worried that Odie would feel anxious and uncomfortable, rejected that option. Peter Burke, executive director of the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce, wrote in an email that the majority of visitors to the island arrive by boat, which he said could be a contributing factor to the number raised dogs on the island.

Most restaurants, including high-end restaurants such as Dune and the interestingly named Or, the Whale, allow dogs in their outdoor dining spaces; the same cannot be said for the restaurants in our Brooklyn neighborhood. Burke pointed to the concentration of independent local businesses that dot the island: “Business owners can set their own dog policies, as opposed to large corporate chains that have national policies,” he said. -he declares.

One rainy evening, we had to leave Odie alone in the room, and we left him again a few nights later for dinner at Topper’s at the Wauwinet Inn, where only service dogs are allowed. At this point in the trip, however, it was obvious that Odie needed some downtime; his typical daily routine of vigorous morning exercise followed by about six hours of intermittent naps was disrupted by our low-key, yet always active, schedule in Nantucket.

The evenings were marked by “sniffaris,” a term I became obsessed with after reading “The Forever Dog: A New Science Blueprint for Raising Healthy and Happy Canine Companions,” by Rodney Habib and Karen Shaw Becker. The authors posit that the mental stimulation provided by leading the way on long, non-cardio walks, where slow sniffing and aimless meandering are key, is good for dogs’ longevity.

In our family, we categorize sniffaris as “budget”, “mid-range”, and “luxury”, based on how long the leisurely walk lasts and how long we’re willing to stay in a random corner. while Odie satisfies his curiosity by quick means. – wiggle his nostrils and make his presence known by raising his leg and marking as much territory as his bladder can handle. During one of our first sniffaris in Nantucket, Odie discovered a container of dog treats outside the nearby Nantucket Hotel & Resort. He regularly dragged me back to the hotel on later walks, and I rewarded him with two, sometimes three, cookies.

Odie now has an icy face, looking distinguished despite his potbellied appearance, a side effect of the steroids he takes. But he’s still long and lean and has a tendency to run fast, especially when there’s a squirrel to hunt at his home in Prospect Park — or a Frisbee to catch on a Nantucket beach.

Lastoe is a Brooklyn-based writer. His website is staceylastoe.com. Find her on Twitter: @stacespeaks.

nantucketresortcollection.com/regatta-inn

Part of the Nantucket Resort Collection, this pet-friendly inn offers amenities for furry friends. Rooms from $139 per night.

Located in the heart of historic downtown Nantucket, this restaurant is open all week, though the star dish, duck carnitas for two, is only available during dinner service. Open every evening for dinner, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; lunch from Thursday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and for Sunday brunch, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner entrees starting at $32.

Born & Bread: Mercantile and Bakery

bornandbreadnantucket.com

Lines start early here, where you can enjoy homemade sourdough, blueberry and thyme scones, as well as beach-ready sandwiches like Kevin, made with turkey, Vermont cheddar, mayonnaise, lettuce, vine tomatoes, red onions and banana peppers. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sandwiches starting around $12.

wauwinet.com/dining/toppers

This upscale spot on a remote part of the island offers a tasting menu and a la carte dishes, with many tables offering views of the bay. The extra wagyu ($70) is worth it, but those with a small appetite are spoiled for choice via the deck menu. Open every day in season for breakfast, from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.; lunch, noon to 2 p.m.; and dinner, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Bridge menu served from noon to 9 p.m. Seven-course tasting menu starting at $160; entrees start at $45.

Located on the north coast of the island, Jetties is walkable from downtown, but shuttles also take visitors ($2 each way, but puppies travel free) from the Whale Museum to the beach every 30 minutes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (mid-June to Labor Day). The beach is wide and flat, the water is calm and shallow, and there are beach facilities.

This sprawling brewery, with ample outdoor space, hosts live music and offers tastings and tours. Open Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

The products at this dog shop are Nantucket-heavy, with dog collars and leashes emblazoned with area anchors, boats and beach names. Open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Prospective travelers should consider local and national public health guidelines regarding the pandemic before planning any travel. Information on travel health advisories can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s interactive map showing travel recommendations by destination and on the CDC’s travel health advisories webpage.