Provincetown: A Premier Destination for Dogs
Author: Elsa Larsen, Dog Behaviorist & Trainer | Owner: My Wonderful Dog. Cresting the hill between Truro and Provincetown you’ll find an unexpected feast for the eyes. The very tip of Cape Cod lies across the bay to your left with the drama of the dunes and the salt lake on your right. A parade of quaint cottages lines the beach and in the distance you can see the Provincetown Monument. I got sober here in 1987 and to me, Provincetown is one of the most beautiful, most spiritual places I’ve ever been. Provincetown has always been special to me but never as special as it is now - now that I have a dog (Lincoln the wonder dog to be exact). Because Provincetown, as it turns out, is one of the most dog-friendliest places I have ever had the pleasure to visit.
I made this discovery last weekend when my partner, Lincoln and I left our home in Arlington, Ma destined for a well deserved weekend at Gabriel’s at the Ashbrooke Inn, in Provincetown.
Located on Bradford Street next to the Bas Relief park and across from the town hall, Gabriel’s is a series of four historic buildings that house beautifully appointed apartments and rooms which look out onto a landscaped central courtyard with a patio and small rock-lined fish pond with water fountain. It is a peaceful place appointed with benches and tables with lots of trees and the murmuring fountain. Once inside the outer gates, you feel like you are in a different world.
Our room was more of a suite than a room, it included a full kitchen, a Jacuzzi, a fireplace and a king sized bed (big enough for Lincoln AND her humans). We also had a semi private balcony which over looked the courtyard and had a breath taking view of the Provincetown Monument. Nestled against the fireplace was a comfy fleece dog bed. Lying atop the bed was a courtesy poop bag dispenser (very important) and some artisanal dog treats. Food and water bowls were also provided. After taking a second to survey the room, Lincoln promptly ate the cookies, drank from her bowl of water and curled up on the fleece dog bed (even though the bed was a tad too small). Her sigh as she settled in suggested to me that she thought this Gabriel’s place was A-Ok in her book.
After unpacking our belongings, the humans took Lincoln for a long walk though town in search of sustenance for our grumbling tummies. As a dog owner, I am constantly taking the temperature of those around me and my dog to see if we are taking up too much space. I am very aware that not everyone likes dogs and even those who do, may not want to come into close contact with one especially on a narrow sidewalk. Provincetown is quaint seaside village with two main streets and a jumble of short side streets. In many places the sidewalks are very narrow and in some spots, the sidewalk entirely disappears.
On this evening, there were lots of folks - both townies and tourists alike out and about. I watched protectively as Lincoln trotted down the sidewalk, winding her way in and out of the throng. To my utter delight each person who came in contact with her smiled and greeted her in a way that I haven’t experienced before. Provincetown is either jam packed with dog lovers or the haters were all home for the evening.
That first evening set the tone for what would turn out to be a rediscovery of a previously unknown Provincetown. The first time I fell in love with place for its beauty and charm, this time I fell in love all over again because I am a crazy, mad, lover of dogs and mom to a four footed, furry child who has become the center of my world. I fell into bed that night knowing we were in for a fantastic weekend.
Gabriel’s has been welcoming people’s pets right from the start. Open since 1979, the Inn is owned by the two Elizabeth’s - Elizabeth A. Brooke and her partner, Elizabeth G. (Gabriel) Brooke. The next day, after a delicious made to order breakfast - courtesy of Gabriel’s, I sat down with the two of them to talk about what it takes to be the proprietors extraordinaire of a kid and pet friendly Inn. In attendance were Miss Potter and Mr. Pippin, two cute little King Charles Spaniels whom I found out, were the latest in a long line of canine ambassadors for the place.
There aren’t many rules for the dogs who stay at Gabriel’s but when someone makes a reservation at the Inn for the first time, the Elizabeths emphasize that theirs is a small complex and the since the rooms all face each other, they need to ensure that everyone there feels comfortable. Too much barking or a dog that isn’t social with other dogs might not be a good fit.
The Elizabeths love dogs and it shows. People come back year after year and bring their dogs with them. The Elizabeths have watched puppies grow up and sadly, they have been there to help a guest heal after a beloved companion has passed on. A new puppy replaces a predecessor older dog and the cycle goes on.
And what about the guest who may not have an affinity for dogs? Many of the rooms have their own private entrances and there is enough space on the property for everyone. A guest can choose to interact or not with the pets at Gabriel’s. Dogs are leashed and owners are asked to keep them out of the Great Room (the multi purpose room where people can dine or hang out) during breakfast. But many dog-less guests do wind up slowly getting to know a dog. Even some guests who have been fearful of dogs all their lives have learned to come to love them at Gabriel’s. It’s a safe place and welcoming place for all who come here. Lincoln, Susannah and I had a fantastic time at Gabriel’s at the Ashbrook Inn and highly recommended it for your stay in Provincetown. For more information about the Inn click here.
Things to do once you’re in Provincetown:
Romping on the beach
Provincetown town beaches are open to dogs off-leash from Memorial Day through November 1st: 6AM to 9AM and 6PM to 9PM and November 2nd through the day before Memorial Day: 6AM to 9PM. Dogs must be under voice and sight control. Unlike many dog friendly destinations that I’ve been to, there are many poop bag dispensers throughout the town (including right by the office door at Gabriel's) and trash cans are easy to find.
Provincetown is also surrounded by Cape Cod National Seashore which is run by the national park service. Dogs are welcome but must be on leash. Here, as with any other beach, you must pick up after your dog.
Last but certainly not least, if you don’t trust your dog off leash and you want a place where you can safely let your dog run free and there is the Pilgrim Bark Park. It is one of the nicest, most well maintained dog parks I have ever seen. There are two separate play areas - one for bigger dogs and another for smaller breeds.
Most of the stores and some of the restaurants welcome dogs. Many of the stores have a doggy water dish waiting outside and dog biscuits within. A few of the stores we visited were:
Henry and Co. - Men’s fashion, men’s and women’s shoes. The young woman behind the register made a huge fuss over Lincoln. To Lincoln’s delight, she fed her a few cookies and then she allowed Lincoln to come into the changing room with me. Lincoln lay quietly at my feet while I tried on some clothes. She liked the blue and white shirt I tried on. So did I.
id – unique, handcrafted gifts. As he showered Lincoln with cookies and affection, co-owner Nick Robertson explained that he and his partner Sian just recently lost their 17 year old Lab/Border Collie Mix, Jack. As we shopped, Nick told me about how Jack had been the official greeter for the store, saying “hello” to people when they came in and taking the extra cookies from the Fed Ex person when he delivered their packages. Lincoln good-naturedly returned all Nick’s attention by planting a few dozen good licks on his face and helping herself to imaginary crumbs behind the counter.
Paws and Whiskers - a super cute pet store with a nice selection of doggy merchandise and a dog bakery. A dog dish of water out front and the requisite “welcome to our store” cookies inside.
Scoop - Ice cream for humans and for dogs. You can even get a non-dairy version for those doggies with sensitive tummies.
There are a number of events which take place year round in Provincetown. The weekend we were there just happened to be Pet Appreciation Weekend which featured an opening night party at the Harbor Hotel, a pet Tea Dance at the Boatslip, a Blessing of the Animals at Saint Mary of the Harbor church, and a parade. All events benefited the Carrie A. Seaman Animal Shelter a no kill animal shelter located in Provincetown.
For more information on upcoming events you can visit the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce website.
About Elsa Larsen:
Elsa started her dog training career as a volunteer for an organization in Santa Rosa, California that trained dogs for people with disabilities. In June 2000, Elsa moved to the east coast and created My Wonderful Dog, a non profit that that engaged at risk youth in the care and training of service dogs. Sadly, the non profit had to close its doors in 2008 due to lack of funding, but under the original banner of My Wonderful Dog, Elsa continues to bring her expertise and knowledge to bear in her quest to create harmony between pet dogs and their owners in and around Portland, Maine and the greater Boston area. With over 15 years experience, Elsa has had the pleasure of working with hundreds of dogs on issues as diverse as dog aggression to puppy management and care.
To follow Elsa and My Wonderful Dog on Facebook, click here.
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