ULTIMATE PET TRAVEL
Visit Your Dog's Ancestral Home
Travel to the birthplaces of golden retrievers, Boston terriers, and five other popular breeds. Here are seven vacation ideas you—and your pooch—can dig.
Origin: Boston, Mass.
Story: In the 1800s, workingmen crossbred terriers with English bulldogs to develop a strong, spunky offspring for dogfights. The result—a small, bat-eared canine with a tuxedo-like coat—was the Boston terrier. It was the first American purebred dog, according to the Boston Terrier Club of America. Over time, dog shows replaced dogfights as the breed's main stomping grounds.
The trip: If you're in Boston on the first weekend in December, drop by the city's largest annual dog show, Bay Colony (baycolonydogshow.com), where the Boston terrier and about 150 other breeds strut their stuff. During the rest of the year, take your dog to Boston Common, a 50-acre park downtown. (But be aware that it's illegal to let a dog run unleashed in Boston parks.) Dogs are welcome on the Freedom Trail, a two-and-a-half-mile self-guided walking tour of 16 colonial sites, such as the Bunker Hill Monument.
Hot tip: Nine Zero Hotel, a boutique Kimpton property downtown, provides dog beds, bowls, and treats—all complimentary (866/906-9090, ninezero.com rates start at $209 per night). A few local Sheratons are pet-friendly, too (800/325-3535, sheraton.com, rates start at $199).
Origin: Rollinsford, N.H.
Story: A spaniel was one of two confirmed dogs to come to the New World on the Mayflower. (The other was a mastiff.) But the wavy-coated breed we officially call the cocker spaniel came later. In 1882, a dog brought from England while pregnant gave birth to a puppy given the unlikely name of Obo II. It was America's first cocker spaniel, according to the American Spaniel Club. Obo II lived and died near Salmon Falls River in the mill town of Rollinsford, N.H. His tombstone can be seen on the grounds of the elementary school at 487 Locust Street.
The trip: Rollinsford's 19th-century mills and mill housing have been redeveloped into an area called Salmon Falls Mills, where you'll find dozens of artists making jewelry, textiles, sculpture, pottery, and furniture. Starting here, take your canine companion on a scenic, five-mile loop. Head south to Foundry Park, a river inlet with a boat launch, and then cross Salmon Falls River on Route 4 to adorable South Berwick, Maine. On your way back to New Hampshire, take Main Street and you'll pass over a bridge that runs parallel to a historic railroad trestle. Then enter Scoutland, a woodsy spot with hiking trails. There are no accommodations in Rollinsford, so consider staying a half-hour's drive away in Durham, N.H., at Hickory Pond Inn (800/658-0065, hickorypondinn.com, from $89, plus $25 per pet).
Hot tip: On Sundays during warm weather months, Front Street in Rollinsford becomes an open-air market. And twice a year, the artists of Salmon Falls Mills open their studios to the public. (This year's dates are November 22-23; millartists.com.)
Origin: The port towns that rimmed the Mediterranean Sea during ancient times, many of which were along the coast of present-day France.
Story: Surprisingly, this fashionable breed was a sailors' pet first, trained to greet locals at ports around the Mediterranean between 600 and 300 B.C. These white, walking powder puffs with plumed tails were eventually adopted by Italian nobles, who groomed them to look like lions for appearances at royal courts. A few centuries ago, they came into vogue with the French, who called them bichon à poil frisé (curly lapdogs). Since Henry III's reign, French aristocrats and commoners alike have championed them.
The trip: France is a great place to bring a dog. The French fawn over dogs in boutiques, trains, hotels—even some restaurants. From Paris, head south to the sea. Stay in a village along the Côte d'Azur, such as sleepy Juan-les-Pins, a suburb of Antibes, and soak up the sun at the oceanfront cafés. Then travel to Antibes proper, home to the Musée Picasso (the château where the artist worked in 1946), Cannes, and Monte Carlo, with its belle epoque-era casinos.
Hot tip: To bring your pet into France, you'll need proof your dog has had a rabies vaccination in the past year and that it has an identifying tattoo or implanted microchip. Your vet must also issue an export health certificate, a document saying that your tail-wagging friend is fit to travel on the dates specified.