We all know that Carmel is a great place to live. In fact, it’s #1 in the whole country according to Money Magazine in its 2012 “100 Best Places to Live in America” list which highlights small cities with populations of 50,000-300,000. The magazine’s criteria includes things like job opportunities, the variety of leisure and cultural activities, great schools, low crime and quality health care.
One of the other yardsticks that people often use to measure the quality of life in a community is how pet friendly that community is. What would our canine residents say about life in Carmel? We decided to sniff out the answers in our own survey of the quality of life here for man’s best friend. We engaged our in-house expert to help us with it. Our one-year-old Havanese, Reggie, checked out downtown Carmel and has his own thoughts that follow in a pictorial. His needs are a little more basic than the folks that visited from Money Magazine, and they’re a little lower to the ground too. But, important, nonetheless.
What we found were a lot of businesses in the area of downtown Carmel that are very obviously pet-friendly. You can’t miss the water bowl and jar of help-yourself dog bones outside the Edward Jones office on Main St. Donatellos offered “dine with your dog” dinners outside during the summer. Bub’s allows you to eat with your dog at their picnic tables along the Monon, if you order carryout.
Then there are businesses such as Canine Cloud Nine that cater to pets by offering cage-free grooming plus a line of Indiana-made holistic dog foods and jerkys. Owner Sean Litke said he chose his location because it was close to so many homes and apartments, adding that Carmel is a great place to be involved in the animal business. “We get quite the variety of clients. We get people who are down here waiting for Bub’s who pop in for a treat. We get people who are new dog owners that need a little training themselves. We get people who truly care about their dogs physical and mental wellness. We get people who support us simply because they like supporting local business, especially a 26 year old entrepreneur. Our heart is in the right place, and people perceive it and could not be more receptive,” he said.
Another person who chose to locate his animal business in downtown Carmel is Dr. Greg Borlik who opened Cottage Animal Clinic in 2012. He prides himself on providing a more unique and personalized veterinary experience, and the fact that his clinic is in an old home gives it a warm and inviting, home-like atmosphere that makes a trip to the vet feel like you are visiting your friend’s home. Dr. Greg said he has worked all over town and chose Carmel to open his clinic for a specific reason. “I knew I wanted to create a friendly and intimate atmosphere, and The Carmel Arts and Design District is wonderful at this with all of its businesses, homes, and apartments,” he said. The doctor gives the city high marks on being canine-centric. “Carmel is a very dog-friendly city. Just walk on the Monon or around any neighborhood and you will see for yourself how many spoil their four-legged friends,” he added.
Just a few blocks from the Arts and Design district and north of Carmel Drive, is Camp Bow Wow – Reggie’s home away from home. They offer large indoor and outdoor play areas where dogs can play with other dogs much of the day rather than being crated up. Camp Bow Wow’s, Lauren Alexander said Carmel is a great place for a business such as theirs. “We feel that Carmel is becoming increasingly more pet-friendly as the years go by. There are several restaurants in the area that allow pets on the patios, along with the convenience of walking and socializing them on the Monon Trail. Carmel is definitely on its way to extreme pet-friendliness with the new dog park rumored to be in the works, along with more and more dog-friendly- and pet-care-related businesses opening regularly,” she said.
The new dog park is more than a rumor. According to Lindsay Labas, the Marketing Manager for Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation, The new Central Bark Park, as it will be called, should be open by late spring to early summer of next year. It will be located off 116th Street, just west of Rangeline Road, and will encompass about two acres. She said it will include areas for small and large dogs, a shelter, and a controlled entrance area regulated by electronic pass cards. Fees have not yet been determined.
Lindsay said all Carmel parks and greenways allow dogs, and that the major parks provide environmentally-conscious dog stations and bags. “While being dog-friendly is not a primary focus of Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation we do welcome people and their dogs into our parks and greenways. Dogs enrich our lives with their companionship and personalities, encourage individuals to know their neighbors and socialize, and increase physical activity. As a department, we understand the benefits dogs provide their owners and feel it’s important to provide an outlet that allows for these benefits,” she said.
Lindsay offered statistics that show the growing need for a dog park here. “Over the past decade, public support for a dog park within the Carmel Clay park system has grown tremendously. In a community survey conducted in 2001, only 9% of households expressed a need for an off-leash dog park. Based on our most recent survey conducted this May, 32% of households now express this need,” said Lindsay, who added that is five percentage points greater than the national average. And, the need for a dog park in Carmel was greater than other recreation amenities such as outdoor basketball courts (27%), indoor basketball/volleyball courts (24%) and soccer/multipurpose fields (13%).
Except for some slightly annoyed Monon bikers (when Reggie ran into their lane), our experience was certainly positive during our Carmel doggie outing. We’ll let Reggie give you his perspective.
Reggie Cinnamon is a one-year-old Havanese. When he’s not napping, he enjoys taking his parents for a walk, chasing tennis balls and sniffing other dogs’ butts.