When Gizelle, a lovable 160-pound English mastiff, was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer, her owner, Lauren Fern Watt, took action. The two embarked on a bucket-list adventure full of canoeing, leaf-peeping with grandpa and a visit to Times Square before Gizelle’s death.
Fast-forward to today: Fern Watt now travels all over North America with her new dog Bette, a Basenji rescue, as her co-pilot.
“Dogs make the best adventure companions because they teach us how to be better humans,” says Fern Watt. “In a world of demanding human to-do lists and technology overload, they remind us to go out and explore; to run on the beach, play, get outside.“
“This destination was on Gizelle’s bucket list,” Fern Watt says. “We traveled along the Maine coastline, stopped for lobster, bought treats at Scalawags Pet Boutique, and walked on Wells Beach as well as Fort Foster Park. Even during the winter, the Maine coastline is a dreamy place to visit. In December, Kennebunkport also hosts a dog-friendly Christmas Prelude parade.”
British Columbia; Driving on The Icefields Parkway
“One of our favorite hikes on the Icefields Parkway was Wilcox Pass,” Fern Watt says. “It’s about 2 ½ miles one way and about a 3 to 4-hour hike if you do the whole thing, but you can also hike about 25 minutes and make it above the treeline. My favorite activity – besides the drive itself – was canoeing on Lake Louise with Bette. I’ll admit this was not a cheap activity to do, but a once-in-a-lifetime splurge I do not regret.”
Cannon Beach & Astoria, Oregon
“Oregon is famous for its long, sandy beaches, which means more room for running and playing fetch,” Fern Watt says, adding, “Dogs are welcome on-leash or under voice control at Cannon Beach. Haystack Rock makes for a great photo op with your pooch and is a great place to watch a sunset. Astoria, a down-to-earth city about 30 minutes from Cannon Beach. has many dog-friendly breweries, bookstores and outdoor restaurants.”
Crested Butte, Colorado
“This is one of my favorite places to go with my dog because it has a lot of Bureau of Land Management territory, which is perfect for doggies,” Fern Watt says. “I love national parks, but oftentimes national parks and dogs do not mix, so I am always on the hunt for amazing BLM land. In the summer there are wildflowers and you can ski with your dog in the winter at the Crested Butte Nordic Center. Breckenridge and Telluride are also three hours away, those are also fun places to visit with a pooch where you can take your dog on a gondola ride.”
Santa Barbara, California
“One of my favorite walks with Bette is the Douglas Family Preserve Walking Trail. It’s filled with dogs and friendly humans,” Fern Watt shares. “If your pooch is into car rides, driving up the 101 is such a classic adventure. Southern California is a great doggy destination because it’s always sunny! The Funk Zone is one of my favorite places to walk around with Bette and go wine-tasting; she goes biscuit-tasting.”
“Nashville is home to BarkPark, an exclusive club for dogs and their humans that hosts a number of events monthly dog-themed events. Walking on 12 South is a great dog-friendly activity. Most of the stores are dog-friendly and pass out free dog treats. You can also have a photo shoot at some of the cool wall art.”
New York City
“If I only had one morning left on earth, I would choose to be in Central Park on a fall morning with my dog during off-leash hours. From squirrel watching in Washington Square Park to off-leash hours in Central Park, I used to love hanging out in New York City with Gizelle. With views of the Flatiron Building, the Madison Square Dog Run is also a great spot to meet local dogs and people watch.”