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 three dogs

Dogs. They're excited to see you walk through the doorway, even if you've left simply to take out the trash. A car ride with the window down equals pure joy. There is no better gift than a tennis ball...or bacon...or ice cream. With so many furry, loyal, fun-loving qualities there's no question why they say "every dog has its day." And that day happens to be August 26, National Dog Day.

Your four-legged friend deserves an appropriate celebration of the occasion. Happily, southwestern Michigan has many dog-friendly activities and lodging options to make it the perfect day for your whole family – even those members who chase squirrels!

Down on the farm
Your dog will love the fresh air and the feel of dirt on her paws. You will love the harvests Southwest Michigan is known for. Take the family out for a day of u-pick and farm market shopping at dog friendly farms including Fruit Acres Farm Market & U-Pick in Coloma, Lehman's Orchard in Niles, or Tree-mendous Fruit Farm in Eau Claire. Some area vineyards and wineries also welcome dogs. Domaine Berrien Cellars in Berrien Springs and Round Barn Winery in Baroda allow dogs on the grounds (but not in the tasting rooms). Hickory Creek Winery in Buchanan has the same policy, and you may even be greeted by the owners' three dogs. All of these businesses do ask that your dog remain on a leash.

Hiking and fishing
If woods, rivers, and lakes are more to your liking, there are hiking and fishing options for the whole family without having to leave your dog behind. Grand Mere State Park in Stevensville, the Kal-Haven Trail and Van Buren State Park in South Haven, and Fred Russ Forest, Arthur Dodd Memorial Park, and TK Lawless Park – all in Cass county – allow leashed dogs. Stretch your legs while enjoying the breezes off Lake Michigan during a walk at Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer along the 2-mile, non-swimming beach area. To get even closer to the water, plan a day of fishing with charters like Headhunter Charters and Originator Sport Fishing Charters.

A day in downtown St. Joseph

For a different type of outdoor adventure you and your dog will enjoy, go to downtown St. Joseph. Start with a Historic Walking Tour led by The Heritage Museum. You'll see landmarks such as the Whitcomb Hotel, Maids of the Mist Fountain, Silver Beach, and several historic homes and businesses. The next tour is scheduled for Friday, August 28, at 1 p.m. Call St. Joseph Today for additional dates. Then stop by Fuzzy Butz Pet Bakery and Boutique to pick up some delicious pet treats baked daily, fun toys, and stylish canine fashion accessories before going across the street to Kilwins for ice cream in the table and bench area in front of the store. Finish your day with a walk along Lake Bluff Park for spectacular views of Lake Michigan.

When staying overnight to take in all the available dog-friendly activities, you have a wide selection of lodging options from which to choose. Many campgrounds, cottage rentals, hotels, and bed and breakfasts welcome pets. Visit their websites or call first for details, policies, and fees.

Happy tails to you on your next visit
It's nice to know you don't have to leave your furry kids behind on your next adventure in southwestern Michigan. As you make plans, it is always a good idea to call ahead to verify a business's pet policy. Also, be prepared to have your dog on a leash in public places. Check out more dog-friendly options in Southwest Michigan so your next trip can be filled with a lot of tail wags and slobbery kisses.

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