Winter is a lonely time if you're a dog in Chicago: long hours at home with nobody to talk to except humans, when you can only find out what's going on in the world (Dog World, the only world that matters) through quick sniffs during the daily hustle around the block while someone tugs at your leash and tells you to hurry up because it's cold.
But then there's summer, peak time for canine sociability, for playing fetch at the park and splashing around at the beach and finding and befriending that dog who's been leaving such interesting scents around the neighborhood. It's all much nicer if you can persuade the humans that there's something in it for them.
Of course there's the Montrose Dog Beach, the happiest place in the city—though Jackson Bark (5800 S. Lake Shore Drive) in Jackson Park has an agility course that makes it way more fun than the other city dog parks. But there are two other great things about the Montrose Dog Beach: first, and most importantly, the Fido to Go treat truck that usually parks near the entrance on Saturdays, and second, the Dock at Montrose Beach, which is of particular interest to people since it serves food and cocktails.
There are plenty of other bars and restaurants that have dog-friendly patios. But some are friendlier than others. Roots Handmade Pizza and the Fifty/50, for instance, serve rawhides and pig ears, not just water, and Nellcôte hosts Bone Appetit, a dog-friendly brunch, every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. When it's too hot and gross for lying on concrete, remember that dogs are actually welcome inside at Rogers Park Social, the Ten Cat, Lizard's Liquid Lounge, Rainbo, and Begyle Brewery; and at River Shannon they'll let dogs play Jenga. SoFo Tap has weekly Yappy Hours on Saturdays. (SoFo seems to market it as a way for humans to sniff each other's butts, so to speak, but dogs' willingness to allow themselves to be used as an accessory to human mating is just one of the many reasons they're man's best friend.)
There's clearly a dog with considerable influence behind the scenes at the Chicago Park District, because The Secret Life of Pets is one of the most frequently shown Movies in the Park this year. Dogs are also used to cruel separations because of forces beyond their control, which is why this year's Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks production, Romeo and Juliet, has special resonance. Meanwhile, the Sox are hosting their annual Dog Day on September 6, while the minor-league Schaumburg Boomers have Bark in the Park on June 25 and August 27, and the Gary South Shore Railcats have theirs on July 9. The Railcats' Bark in the Park is special because they let dogs play fetch on the field before the first pitch.
In addition to its regular adoption events, PAWS will host two major fund-raisers this summer, a 5K at Montrose Harbor on June 4 and a beach party at Castaways at North Avenue Beach on July 20. The biggest dog parties of the summer, though, may very well be Pet Fest (part of West Fest) the weekend of July 8-9 and EdgeFest the weekend of August 5-6. But be warned: EdgeFest features a pet costume contest. How much humiliation are you willing to risk for a day out?
But really, the wonderful thing about being a dog is that you don't need much: a few rounds of fetch, maybe a dip in the lake or a squirt from a garden hose, an ice cream or a beer on the porch, and most of all, the chance to get out and sniff and be sniffed. v