JOPLIN, Mo. —
Last weekend, on my drive to Kansas City, I broke 30,000 miles in my car for the past year. While some of that has been in Joplin, watching my readout turn over reminded me that I've done some serious traveling throughout the Midwest.
That is a ton of miles to drive in one year with a lot of stops in between. Gas station fill-er-ups, random stops at the bizarre landmarks that dot the Missouri highway system and the more-than-occasional trip to an out-of-the-way record store.
Most of those trips have been with my dog. And every time I stop, I have to keep in mind that my dog is not welcome in most of those places.
I'm not faulting a business for their decision not to allow pets.
Between health code regulations, logistics and safety concerns, I totally understand decisions (and rights) to make that choice. But those businesses that do take the extra step to be pet-friendly usually get my return business.
I was quite surprised to find there is a central location on the Internet for people like me. I found www.bringfido.com this weekend thanks to another blogger.
The website is like Yelp, except it lists and reviews pet-friendly locations throughout the country, by city. The Missouri breakdown was a veritable gold mine of spots I want to try out across the state.
There is a cafe in St. Louis called Luvy Duvy's where every outdoor table comes equipped with a dog bowl. My favorite concert venue in Kansas City, Grinders, encourages owners to bring their dogs during afternoon hours when the venue opens for food.
There is even a place in Kirkwood called The Tropical Moose that offers a meat-flavored snowcone for dogs called the ÒCanine Cooler.Ó How awesome is that?
In the past, it has been trial and error in finding places to take my dog, but this was completely laid out for me and has already set the wheels in motion for another trip.
Unfortunately, there aren't any Joplin locations listed just yet. I don't think the website has the critical mass to make a big impact on some of the smaller towns.
But if you are a pet-friendly business owner in the city, I strongly encourage you to register on the site. Let us know if it is something you encourage. We would be happy to offer you our patronage.
One reminder to pet owners though: It is up to you to be a responsible owner with your dog in public. Always have your pet leashed. Know how your dog will act around strangers.
If you are traveling and your pet comes with you, pack some extra sandwich bags to pick up your dog's mess. Just because you are at a gas station and your pet does their business in the grass doesn't mean you can leave it there. I can't tell you how many times I have walked with my dog as she does her business, just to step in someone else's mess.
Have some respect for other people's property. The owners and other travelers will thank you.
Contact Ryan Richardson about this column or other topic suggestions at email@example.com or 417-627-7363.