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Dog Day Afternoons

The sun is shining, grass is soft and new, scented trees are perfuming the air…and it's all giving a certain furry four-legged someone spring fever.

It's time to get the pup out and about.

With events to hit with the dog every day this weekend, it's kind of the unofficial kickoff to dog season, such as it is.

On Sunday, it's one of Baltimore's biggest pet events of the year, the Maryland SPCA's March for the Animals. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. thousands of dogs and their people (and even a few brave kitties) will converge on Druid Hill Park for the shelter's biggest fundraiser of the year. There will be contests, chances for your pup to try an agility course and to play a canine version of musical chairs, training demonstrations and of course the mile and a half benefit walk.

In Columbia on Saturday, there's Dog Day Afternoon, the Columbia Association annual dog celebration, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hopewell Park. There will be dog games and contests, including a new one this year: Columbia's Cutest Canine Contest. (If the weather looks questionable, please call the association's weather hotline, 410-715-3154, for the status of the event.)

Dogs and humans are invited to a happy hour tonight, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Wine Bin in Ellicott City, 8390 Main Street. There will be live music, a raffle (one prize is an Ellicott City Ghost Tour for 10 with your dogs) and photographer Anne Sachs be taking pet pictures. The event benefits the MDSPCA.

And wouldn't your pup like to take in a baseball game? He can in a few weeks, on May 16, at the Bowie Baysox Bark in the Park event. Pups are welcome at the 2:05 p.m. game, which is against Erie.

There's plenty more ways to have fun with your dog any time.

Aileen Gabbey, executive director of the MDSPCA, likes to take Alvie, her Americal Eskimo (adopted from the shelter, of course) for hikes at Oregon Ridge. "The trails there are great," she says. "Alvie particularly loves jumping on and over felled trees." She also recommends Cylburn Aboretum for scenic trail-walking.

Jennifer Mead-Brause, executive Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, says Cody, her retriever mix, and Cindy, her spaniel/poodle mix love to be outside and sniff it up. Some of their favorite hiking spots are the trails of Robert E. Lee Park off Falls Road near the city/county line and the NCR trail near Hunt Valley, which is nice and flat for her older dog. She especially likes on weekdays when it isn't so busy.

John Woestendiek, a former Baltimore Sun reporter and master of the Ohmidog! blog, calls Riverside Park his dog Ace's second home. "It's a bit less faux than Locust Point Dog Park, a bit less snooty than Federal Hill Park, and a bit more suitable -- when law enforcement isn't around -- for romping, not that Ace romps much," he says.

The two also like Patapsco State Park, Gunpowder Falls State Park and the cool bay breezes at Fort McHenry. When he isn't sneaking into bars, Ace also enjoys barbeque al fresco at Locust Point's HarborQue, 1421 Lawrence Street.

Dog parks to run legally off-leash

Canton Dog Park: At the intersection of South Bouldin and Toone Streets in Canton, the park offers separate, fenced-in runs for small and large dogs.

Locust Point Dog Park: At Baltimore's newest dog park, on Andre Street at the edge of Latrobe Park, dogs can run in a fenced-in area complete with a synthetic grass mountain, a climbing stump and a creek-like water feature.

Dog Beach at Downs Park: In Pasadena, dogs can run off-leash along the Chesapeake Bay and go swimming. In the adjoining park, dogs on leash can enjoy miles of trails.

Canine Meadows Dog Park: At the John Rudy County Park in York, Pa., not too far of a drive from Baltimore, dogs can run off-leash over nearly 14 acres. There are separate large and small-dog areas.

Dog-friendly dining spots

Though the health code keeps dogs out of restaurants and taverns, establishments with outdoor dining sometimes allow pets. Here are just a few.

In Locust Point near the dog park, there's Miguel's Cocina y Cantina, 1700 Beason Street, and Harvest Table, 1000 Hull Street.

After perhaps a walk around the Inner Harbor promenade, dogs are welcome on the porch at Little Havana, 1325 Key Highway, and in Canton at Austin Grill in Canton, 2400 Boston Street.

In Fells Point, where a number of the boutiques welcome shoppers with dogs, Mr. Yogato, 723 S. Broadway, will give dogs free ice cream cups while across the street at Pitango Gelato, 802 South Broadway, they keep a water bowl for thirsty pups. Grab beers at Shuckers, 1629 Thames St., where every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to close it's Yappy Hour.

Downtown, they love dogs at Iggie's pizza 818 North Calvert Street. And in Columbia, dogs are welcome on the patio of Pub Dog drafthouse, 8865 Stanford Boulevard.



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