September is the perfect month to shift gears from summer and explore a more relaxing side to South County. Here we take a dog-themed jaunt from Wickford to Weekapaug, with a focus on the quieter pursuits of coffee, books, art, and musical serenades, while encountering the maximum number of resident pups en route! Listen closely and you’ll hear your dog sighing in contentment.
Pretty much every street in this historic fishing village is a joy for dogs. Notable stops are Shayna’s Place with dog-friendly cafe seating along the walkway leading to the marina, as well as award-winning sandwiches, raw juices, and nitro cold brew. Over at Serendipity, four-year-old Chocolate Lab Lacey snoozes contentedly beside the squirrel-shaped dog treats as owner Melissa Beckwith showcases made-with-love Rhode Island artisan gifts in what was once a pet store (especially cute are the baby onesies with Ruff Life logos and the beach/bath hoodies appliqued with a floppy-eared pup).
Would a house overrun with 10 puppies be your idea of heaven? Katie Hutchinson and Jim Fusaro of flatfish cottage, a home decor and accessories shop, lived that dream while fostering for Heart of RI Rescue and literally had the pick of the litter when it came to their store puppy. Twelve-week-old Abbie now models Beware Of Dog Kisses pillows and lavender-scented paw balm in this artfully curated, neutral-hued home store. “Abbie’s favorite walk is to the grassy area outside the First Baptist Church; it’s just a few minutes but she has to stop and meet every person on the way!” says Hutchinson.
Jamestown is home to artist Alexandra Kent who paints endearing and affordable animal portraits in her garden studio amid a flutter of butterflies and cluck of chickens. Kent’s long-haired German Shepherd Rosie watches over every brush stroke and makes sure she takes breaks to stretch and throw a ball. One local spied Kent’s work on display at Island Animal pet store and commissioned a portrait of her late Carolina Dog mix: “Alex so captured my dog’s essence that my heart skipped a beat – for a moment it was like seeing him again!” she shared.
Once you have sighed at the Newport Bridge views from Conanicus Avenue or frolicked at Fort Wetherill State Park, venture inland to the Village Hearth Bakery & Cafe. You might spot a feisty Morkie (Maltese-Yorkie) relishing a slice of thick bacon amidst shady outdoor spaces. Consider a Portuguese muffin for your breakfast sandwich and a Newport Craft Blueberry Ale for your beverage.
Sandy paws are always welcome at the walk-up window to The Pour House. Coffee connoisseurs and owners Joshua Katz, Katarina Reisch, and Dwight Albrecht, Jr. dote on every canine customer and dispense Doggacinos: little espresso cups filled with dog treats; they even named one beverage after Labradoodle regular Maizey, who frequents the spot with owner Kristin Urbach, executive director of North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce.
For a sunset tipple head to TwoTen Oyster Bar & Grill . While your pal enjoys the complimentary dog biscuits, sip on a Bloodhound Cocktail made from Tito’s vodka, muddled strawberry, basil, and lemon, content in the knowledge that 25 percent of every sale benefits Animal Rescue Rhode Island. You might even come nose to nose with an ARRI pup as staff take adoptable pets on mini outings here, and to Java Madness (134 Salt Pond Road), as both have decks overlooking the marina, offering lots of pleasing sea dog sniffs.
Like a scene from The Lion King, Tayla Luddy lifts her five-pound Shih-Poo puppy Beckett aloft, marveling as the sunlight illuminates his strawberry-blond fur. The pair limber upon the banks of the Saugatucket River for the Wakefield portion of the South County Bike Path. This seven-mile trail is hugely popular for dog-walkers, yet you can still have quiet, leafy stretches all to yourself.
The quickest way to restore any calories burned is to order a Morning Bun at South County Bread Company. Described as the love child of a croissant and cinnamon roll, you’ll also picture a Parisian culinary school as you experience the caramelized crunch and rich buttery flavor. Dog-friendly tables are set European-style on the sidewalk. Just don’t be surprised if your pup tries to head home with owners Jeff and Keri Lyn Collins – word is their Australian Shepherd Bridget lives in crumb heaven.
Across the street, Caf Bar boasts a lovely pet-friendly patio with Moroccan rugs, maple bourbon lattes, and connecting doors leading to Rarities Antiquarian & Vintage Books. This is a truly charming new addition to downtown Wakefield with a grand opening planned at press time for Labor Day weekend. Signings include the authors of A to Z for D-O-G and Dash: My Diary of Love, Life and Cookies, written from the perspective of a South County Yellow Lab with Christine M. Connolly.
Owner Kelly Allen Kujawski (a two dog mama) is a bookbinder by trade and offers hand-bound notebooks plus fascinating vintage reads, including a 1950s copy of Kasha’s Dog Owners Guide which sagely notes: “It is not necessary to make a vaudeville performer out of your dog.”
Shaidzon Beer Company has a pup-friendly beer garden set by the train tracks for a whistle-by thrill, and if you’re lucky, Captain Cheese’s food truck will be parked in the lot. Sara R and her Doodle Lemon were in from Portland visiting family and enjoying craft brews including Sea & Sand Pale Ale.
If a dog designed a pet store, it would look exactly like Fetch RI . This cute white clapboard house has such a bountiful treats bar there’s even a section dedicated to birthday cookies and cake mix. One room brims with toys, while another features catwalk-ready leashes and collars. Best of all, owner Johnna Devereaux is a clinical pet nutritionist who can offer safe, natural solutions to pet problems. This makes for a worthwhile and scenic excursion, especially with Alaina’s Coffee + Kitchen next door. Slide onto one of the colorful Adirondacks and enjoy a yummy Local Hot Honey Grilled Cheese or Acai Bowl with Nutella drizzle while your pup chows down on its healthy no-hide chew.
Despite its vantage point of vrooming Highway 1 traffic, Dave’s Coffee has a secret garden quality to its sprawling grounds. Petite Cattle Dog mix Lacey happily takes in every Instagram-friendly aspect, from the flower-draped gazebo to the iconic vintage green truck, with a clear favorite being the shady grotto area with its cooling rock pool. Providence-based owner Susanna Hall recommends the iced Coffee Milk and outsize strawberry and white chocolate muffins, still warm from the oven.
Looking for a fun keepsake? The Barn at A Shore Thing has fun Nauti Dog tea towels and sturdy shopping totes repurposed from dog food sacks. Designed to take the weight of 14 pounds of kibble, they are a practical if unconventional resource with every dollar received going to Charlestown Animal Rescue. “I get goosebumps thinking about the customer who added a $100 bill to her purchase!” says The Barn owner Patty Surname. “That’s a true animal lover!”
The prettily pink Sea Shell Motel is just 200 yards from Misquamicut beach and has a waterfront backyard so you can step directly onto Winnapaug Pond. Kayaks are free to use and there is an outdoor shower, ideal if you are introducing your pup to the water for the first time; rinse, repeat, and take a snooze break in your room in between sessions! Look out for Lola the Pomeranian perched on the check-in desk – she has startled guests who mistook her for a fluffy toy.
Savoy Bookshop & Cafe could double as a movie set with its 1886 architecture, stay-a-while brown leather armchairs, and barista-frothing soundtrack. The styling may be classic but the books are keenly current, including Jim Davies’ Be The Person Your Dog Thinks You Are and the beautifully illustrated recipe book My Dog Eats Better Than Me. Louis M. came in for a cappuccino with his Labradoodle Buddy, before heading to artsy, elegant Wilcox Park (44 Broad Street) to burn off some of his pup’s evening energy. Time your walk for 2pm on Sunday, September 19 and you’ll hear 20 violinists performing Vivaldi for the Summer Strings concert as you wander around the beautifully landscaped arboretum.
The Weekapaug Inn offers the ultimate dog-friendly staycation bliss. Canine guests are welcomed to this peaceful peninsula hideaway with dog beds and bowls, house-baked treats, and even, on occasion, peanut butter rewards and carrot birthday cakes. “So many of our guests are regulars. We have seen their dogs grow from puppies to seniors,” says General Manager Corinne Finn-Heyl. Use of paddle boards and kayaks are complimentary and dog-friendly, as deftly demonstrated by a Portuguese Water Dog. Preferring a regal glide across Quonochontaug Pond in the Inn’s boat, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (AKA @charlotte_thequeencharles) looks in her element and earns a new nickname: Queenie on the Quonnie! Even if a five-star stay is not in your wallet, you can enjoy the tranquil vista by coming for lunch or dinner. On Friday and Saturday nights, classical guitarist Tommy Giarratano creates such a mesmerizingly mellow atmosphere it seems preferable to dine alone with your furry friend so you can sit back and relish every strum, not to mention every bite of your cooked-to-perfection meal.