Pet owners can have an arf-ully hard time finding a public place to hang out with their furry (feathery/scaly/antlered …) friend. Since the weather has finally returned to an enjoyable autumnal briskness, it’s an apt time to explore spots around New Orleans where pets can relax in good com-paw-ny. There are parks, shops, restaurants and other businesses all over town that appeal to animals and, of course, their human companions.

Barking up the Right Tree
City parks are treasured oases for man’s best friends, especially dog parks like the one at the Bonnabel Boulevard Boat Launch. The park sits atop 16,000 square feet of recreation area adjacent to the gentle waters of good old Lake Pontchartrain. 

The park’s amenities, as relayed by District 5 Parish Council Aide Rob Hinyub, are numerous: There are benches, trash receptacles, sanitary stations, a 5-foot-tall aluminum fence, drinking fountain with dog fountain, Puppy Hop, Doggie Crawl and Tire Jump. The outdoor space even has an accompanying 11,000-square-foot “Tot Lot” playground for little ones, with picnic tables and drinking fountains, as well as play equipment built over a carpet of protective outdoor surfacing. 

The dog park has been open to the public for a few months and the tot lot (if construction followed plans) should be open.

There is an “unofficial” dog park in the French Quarter, Cabrini Park, located at the corner of Barracks and Dauphine streets which gives furry friends in the French Quarter space to mingle with their neighbors. Though city law prohibits unleashed doggies in such open spaces, even downtown pups need a place to play.
Keep an eye out for NOLA City Bark: a 4.6-acre dog park within City Park, slated to include features such as play areas for small and big dogs, on-site restrooms, shade pavilions and water fountains for people as well as pups. The park is still about $300,000 in donations away from opening, which could happen as early as Spring 2009. (If you’d like to speed up development, donations can be made

Fancy Feasting
While animals of any living kind are usually unwelcome guests in the kitchen, there are a few restaurants around town that allow you to sit outdoors with your dog by your side. Café Freret is one such place, located Uptown on Freret Street (tricky, tricky). The eatery is a super-casual, open-air cafe that’s perfect for a quick bite with a pet by your side. In fact, Café Freret likes doggies so much that man’s best friends (provided they’re leashed and well-behaved) are treated to a bowl of fresh water upon arrival, as well as several treats to munch on while Mom and Dad peruse the people menu. The covered, (approximetaly) 50-seat patio has fans overhead to circulate air and a cool cement floor where pets can chill.

Everybody in New Orleans knows about the Parkway Bakery & Tavern, but not so many folks know how dog-friendly this eminent eatery is. The restaurant’s patio area has about 70 seats, and patrons regularly visit Parkway with their pooch.
Between the hours of 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., scores of locals flock to enjoy the restaurant’s signature dish, the poor boy sandwich. The menu comprises classics, such as the shrimp, oyster and catfish poor boys, with a few zesty inclusions – corned beef, alligator sausage and naughtily delicious gravy-coated French fries.

Lapping Luxury
Even if they’re not boozehounds, New Orleans dogs can appreciate taking their owners to a joint that serves finely crafted beverages. Whether it’s a tall, frosty cocktail or java over a game of checkers, New Orleanians of all shapes and sizes like to relax with a drink. 

For libation lovers with pets, the Bridge Lounge is known around town as a self-proclaimed “dog bar.” Pictures of pups of all shapes and sizes adorn the walls of this hip, cement-floored hound haven. A variety of table types (bench, wall booth, cocktail) allows for easy movement through the bar’s empty space (which, on busy nights, there isn’t much of).

Tuesday is Dog Night, where dog mommies and daddies are encouraged to bring their furry babies to the bar. Nightly, Bridge Lounge offers free Wi-Fi.

At Z’otz Coffeehouse, well-behaved pups are welcome to join their human pals at any of the (approximetaly) 50 seats indoors or outdoors. Outdoors, Z’otz sets up a few tables on the Oak Street sidewalk and a few more on the back patio, providing loads of fresh air for caffein-atics.

Inside, folks will find board games – including chess and the Japanese strategy game Go – and a wide selection of beverages such as coffee, tea (iced and hot) and espresso. Z’otz also makes specialty drinks such as maté, the national beverage of Argentina, and Italian soda, available in roughly 40 flavors. There’s also free Wi-Fi and computers that can be rented in increments of 15 minutes or an hour. Your pup will be more interested to know Z’otz baristas provide treats and water upon owners’ request.

Known around town for its blueberry mojitos, St. Joe’s Bar on Magazine Street is an excellent stop while taking your pup on a stroll, perhaps after work, around the neighborhood. St. Joe’s opens at 5 p.m. (6 p.m. on Sundays) with happy hour specials including $2.25 Abita beers and $2.75 well drinks. As the bar doesn’t serve food, pups are welcome in the front and back sections of the bar. St. Joe’s even welcomes friends of the feline persuasion – ravenous cougars hunting here will find no shortage of bucks.