“Hey, dogs, do you want to go for a car ride?”
What follows are the enthusiastic clickity-clacks of paws as they storm the kitchen. “Car ride” is one of their favorite words—also popular are “walk” and “kibble”—and they want to make it very clear they are amped to join us.
Because my husband, Joe, and I both work outside the home, we try to spice up the weekends for Ava and Bear, the pit mixes we rescued from Tara’s House Animal Rescue. We’re grateful that there are so many things to do with dogs in Frederick (our hometown). Now that the cool fall weather is here, we’ve been taking them on adventures more frequently.
With collars and leashes on, the dogs beeline for the gate while Joe and I trail behind. We’ve become adept at packing for these outings—we each carry a waist pouch full of dog treats and poop bags, along with a thermos of water and a collapsible drinking bowl, so we can give the pups water as they need it. For hikes, we also take a Camelbak of water for ourselves. Dogs can dehydrate just as humans can, so it’s vital that we have enough water to keep everyone on their feet—or paws—no matter the temperature.
Our first stop was Dublin Roasters, which, according to Joe, serves the best coffee in Frederick. (I’m not a coffee drinker, so I have no opinion on this.)
Proprietor Serina Roy travels the world looking for the best beans for her North Market Street store, where they are roasted in small batches and brewed to perfection. We ordered a blueberry muffin for me, an apple cinnamon whoopie pie for Joe, and two “Puppuccinos,” which are free with a purchase.
Consisting of whipped cream and a Milk-Bone, the cups were a hit with both Ava and Bear, who gobbled them down and then slurped some water at a communal dog bowl under the tent where we had found a table. Joe sampled a flight of four coffee flavors and proclaimed the Volt blend, Dublin’s signature, the best. With full bellies, we headed to the car.
It was time for Bear’s favorite part of any outing—hiking. We went to Fountain Rock Park in Walkersville, a true gem tucked on a curvy road off Route 194. As a history lover, one of the highlights of this park for me is the limestone kilns. Once used to create powdered lime for fertilizer, today, the industrial stone structures offer a pleasing juxtaposition against the verdant colors of nature. We walked around, reading signs that provided a glimpse at the dangers inherent in producing limestone.
The park has two ponds used over the years for trout farming. The larger of the two is an old quarry, now rimmed with a boardwalk. It’s a perfect place to spot turtles, fish, and ducks or just to enjoy the beautiful rock wall reflecting off the glistening watery surface.
Fountain Rock also has a variety of delights for two-legged children. There is an outdoor music area where kids can play musical instruments, including drums and chimes; a kitchen area complete with dishes; food pellets to throw to the ducks; and a swing set with a zip line and slides. We headed to a nature trail with small signs along the path identifying trees and plants, along with yellow treasure boxes for small hands to open and explore. On our visit, the boxes were full of black walnuts instead of what the signs described. Not at all sticklers for accuracy, Ava and Bear stuck their heads in each one anyway.
Joe and I took turns touring Fountain Rock’s Nature Center. Dogs aren’t allowed inside—a good rule, considering the variety of amphibians, insects, and reptiles on display! A friendly Frederick County Parks and Recreation employee briefed me on the various exhibits. I visited with a bearded dragon, several toads and frogs, a hive of bees, and a tarantula named Sparkle. “Be sure to look at the exoskeleton she just shed,” the worker chirped. “It gives you a really good idea of how big she is!” Suddenly, I felt like Sparkle was crawling ON me, so I headed out to relieve Joe. A lover of creepy-crawlies, he found the center fascinating.
After about an hour at Fountain Rock, it was time for our next stop. Although we love visiting Paws in the City, we decided to stay north of Frederick’s historic district. We headed to My Pet Store and More on W. 7th Street, a relatively new, locally-owned shop full of doggie delights. (They have things for other furry friends, as well.) They were holding an adoption event outside the store, which our dogs found fascinating. They spent five minutes standing inside the store, staring out the front window at the adoptable pups. Eventually, a kind worker asked if Ava and Bear wanted some treats, which finally pulled their attention away from the window.
We wandered around the shop then, letting them examine the toys until Ava chose a purple and blue dragon-type creature. For his part, Bear stuck his head into a floor display and helped himself to a treat. The worker laughed and said, “that happens a lot!” We grabbed a second treat for Ava and paid before Bear ate any more of the merchandise.
It was time for mom and dad to have a treat. There are many breweries that allow dogs in Frederick, including the four along Carroll Creek. We have been to all of them with our dogs in the past, but for this trip, we headed to Monocacy Brewing Company on North Market, just across from Dublin Roasters, where we started. (The hope shining in the dogs’ eyes clearly indicated they hadn’t forgotten their morning Puppucinos).
I prefer going to Monocacy for drinks when we have the dogs with us—they have a large grassy area with picnic tables spread far enough apart that Ava and Bear aren’t able to wander over and greet the nearest patrons.
They often have food and live music on the scene as well. On this particular day, the D’s Delights food truck was there, so we were able to have lunch with our beer. Joe drank a Barrel-Aged Brewtus, an Imperial Stout with a strong coffee flavor that he said paired beautifully with the cheesecake we bought from M.R.Cheesecakes, who was also selling treats at the brewery that day. I had a Beneath the Oak Sour, which had a prune flavor that was great for sipping. Thanks to the casual vibe, the beautiful fall weather, and the fact that Ava and Bear were behaving themselves, we ended up sitting and talking for nearly two hours before finally packing up.
We had all eaten well, gotten some exercise, and had a nice day as a family. It was time to go home and watch the dogs tear apart their new dragon toy.
Lead Photo: Joe Schlag