This beautiful weather makes it seem impossibly cruel to keep our furry family members indoors—and fortunately, we don’t have to.
Fido fan Eric Zimmerman and his pooches, Ollie B. and Abbie, travel the world to promote their Savannah-made Oliver Bentley’s gourmet dog biscuits, but they give Savannah four paws up for canine hospitality. We asked Eric to grab a leash and lead the way through dog-friendly Savannah. Photography by Katie McGee.
If you’re like many of us with a dog in the family, you know about those sad eyes: the ones that follow us when we leave home without them. There’s really only one cure for sad eyes, and that’s to bring your pup with you every chance you get. Fortunately, Savannah makes it easier than you might think to have a happy dog day.
Start by exploring the Historic District’s green spaces. At first glance, our 22 picturesque squares may seem too pristine and proper for your barking buddy, but look again. Take notice of the wonderfully handy doggie waste receptacles the city has installed just for you and your pup.
Buried in the ground at the entrances to most downtown squares, you’ll spot a curious, green metal lid with a white stencil of a dog on it. It looks like a small submarine hatch, but it’s actually a subterranean trash can. Open it by pressing on the pedal with your foot, and—presto—you can deposit what Fido left behind and continue on your downtown journey.
There are even doggie water fountains—two in Forsyth Park (one north and one south of the Forsyth Fountain), one in Troup Square and one in Ellis Square—built at nose level, just perfect for your pup to grab a quick drink. And you’ll find a fenced-in dog park near the corner of East Broad and Jones streets.
That Doggie in the Window
While you’re walking, you’re likely to pass by a plethora of cute boutiques and tempting eateries—enough to give you a case of the sad eyes because furry customers aren’t always welcome in human environs. Fortunately, many Savannah businesses have figured out that the way to your heart is through your pup.
Savannah Bee Co., Nourish, Copper Penny, Fab’rik, Modern General, 24e Design Co., and Half Moon Outfitters are just a few of the Broughton Street boutiques that happily welcome four-legged shoppers to sniff around with their humans.
If it’s your pup you’re shopping for, you can find the just-right chew toy or handmade treat at locally owned dog stores, Grateful Hound on Ellis Square, and Oliver Bentleys on Wright Square and Florida-based Woof Gang Bakery in City Market.
Out on your own but wishing to see a furry face? Zia Sachedina, the owner of ZIA Jewelry on Broughton often has his beloved XhuXhu (zoo-zoo) and Coco in the store to help shoppers pick out the perfect item for that special someone. Other Savannah “store dogs” to visit are Shepard at Satchel on Liberty Street, Bailey at Frieze on Bull Street, and Manchester at Custard Boutique in Savannah’s Downtown Design District. Nothing makes shopping more fun than a four-legged sales associate.
Kibble and Biscuits
So, your dog has his treat but now you’re hungry. No problem. If you spy a restaurant with outdoor seating, chances are near 100 percent they allow dogs to dine with their humans. That’s right, from a fine dining menu at The Olde Pink House on Reynolds Square to Savannah institution Clary’s Cafe at Abercorn and Jones, if the establishment has outdoor tables they are probably dog-friendly. Just ask.
For breakfast or brunch, Clary’s, Goose Feathers, The Collins Quarter, J. Christopher’s, Firefly Café, the Funky Brunch Café and B. Mathew’s Eatery are all “four paws up” faves. Each will even treat your canine companion to a doggie biscuit or two, and usually have a bowl available for water. For lunch, Ollie B., Abbie and I bark back time and time again to The Public Kitchen and Bar, Wright Square Cafe, Zunzi’s, Dept. 7 East, Flying Monk Noodle Bar and Kayak Cafe.
Looking for a quick jolt or a sweet snack? Coffee Fox, Gallery Expresso and Leopold’s Ice Cream are just the ticket to rest your paws for a spell. At Leopold’s, be sure to order one of their special doggie sundaes, made with vanilla and topped with a biscuit.
A Place for Us
Playing host to friends with a dog? Finding lodging for the whole pack is easy at Fidofriendly.com. From the retro Thunderbird Inn to the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa on Hutchinson Island, Savannah’s hospitality industry will welcome your dog with open paws. My favorites are Olde Harbour Inn on the Savannah River, the quaint East Bay Inn and the comfy, contemporary Brice by Kimpton. For a B&B right in the middle of the Historic District, check out The Foley House Inn, which allows dogs of all sizes in every room.
Outside of the Historic District, the canine hospitality continues. Be sure to get provisions from locally owned pet stores—like Tailsspin’s health- and community-conscious Habersham Village and Pooler locations, Canine Palace at Bull Street and Victory Drive, or Retail Retreat Dog Bakery and Boutique—where the purveyors take the time to get to know you and your pup’s tastes in food and toys. Think of them as Cheers for dogs. Stroll the Starland District and grab a bite at the Starland Café, then frolic in the dog park right next door. In Daffin Park near historic Grayson Stadium, your dog can run free in a safe, pine-shaded enclosure.
No choice but to leave Fido at home while you’re off exploring? Catnip ’n’ Biscuits is a luxury daycare and overnight pet hotel with spa services that go beyond the mere bath. You can add a facial scrub to the standard ear cleaning and nail grinding. Same at Midtown’s Diva Dogs and Southside’s Barkie Bow Wow, which also offers boarding services. The Animal Resort and Spa on Ogeechee Road provides large private suites for pets. Find that you can’t get to the groomer on a busy day? Have Top Dog’s mobile grooming come to you.
We all know how much our tail-wagging loved ones love to swim—and that may be the only area where Savannah falls short. Unfortunately, Tybee Island is not a dog-friendly beach, but there are beaches on Hilton Head Island where dogs can swim.
Sniff it out—along with all of these other pup possibilities. Once you do, tails will wag and those sad, sad eyes will be a thing of the past.