A good and probably inordinate amount of my life revolves around my dogs: the park, hiking, walks, off-leash romps, playdates with other dogs, socializing with their favorite humans. I take them to work and to bars, on trips to the mountains and the beach. All of which is to say, I’m a dog person. Most of my friends are dog people. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Triangle is a great place to have a dog—and, best I can tell, to be a dog. There are, of course, lots of dog parks. In Durham, Northgate Dog Park is closest to my house, and while it gets muddy as hell at the first hint of rain, it has a good group of regulars (four-legged and otherwise) that my pups and I have become fond of. There’s the tiny Durham Dog Park just off Roxboro Street, and a much bigger one in South Durham, Piney Woods, probably the nicest in the city.
In Orange County, you have Southern Dog Park, Homestead Dog Park, Anderson Community Park, and Gold Park Dog Park. In Wake County, Cary has the Cary Dog Park, while Apex has the Apex Nature Park. Raleigh, meanwhile, has several places for your fuzzball to play, including Jaycee Dog Run near Wade Avenue, Community Pines Dog Park in Southwest Raleigh, Millbrook Exchange Park in North Raleigh, and Oakwood Dog Park near downtown.
There’s a lot of quality dog-friendly hiking around, too. Umstead State Park and Eno River State River offer miles of trails for the energetic pup who needs to wear himself out, while the Durant Nature Preserve in North Raleigh and the Brumley Forest Nature Preserve in Chapel Hill (the northern entrance, which doesn’t allow bicyclists) offer more laid-back, scenic jaunts. Between eight and ten on weekend mornings, dogs are allowed in Duke Gardens; mine love sitting at the edge of the koi pond and wondering what those things are. For weekend excursions, I’m also partial to the Laurel Bluffs Trail, a sparsely traveled stretch along the Eno that begins at Guess Road in North Durham and heads west.
Dogs are also allowed in most breweries and some bars. Mine are especially enamored of Beer Study in Durham, where they get all the love from strangers, as well as Ponysaurus, Fullsteam, and Parts & Labor. Surf Club and Bull City Ciderworks both have good indoor and outdoor space for your pups, and 106 Main is cool to let your best pal chill with you inside. The newly opened Barley Labs in Durham is a bar that specifically caters to dogs. Over in Raleigh, Tasty Beverage Co. in the Warehouse District is a fine place for your mutt to hang while you have a brew, as are Raleigh Brewing Company and Trophy Brewing Company, to name just a few.
The point is, there are lots of ways to keep tails wagging. You can even take Fido to a ballgame: A couple of times a year, the Durham Bulls host Bark in the Park nights.