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Dating with Your Dog

Pooja Salhotra
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Danica Limon, James Mialkowsko

Danica Limon and James Mialkowsko enjoyed a Sunday brunch at Leeland House along with their dog Toro. (Photo: Pooja Salhotra)

I recently came to the conclusion that dating with your dog is 100 times better than dating without your dog. What I mean by “dating with your dog” is bringing your pooch along when you go on a date, whether it’s a first date or a twelfth date. Here’s a few reasons I’ve taken to this practice: 

First, if your date is a dog-owner as well, why not make it a double date and let your dog socialize with his/her dog (as long as both pups are friendly)? On a recent date I went on, my dog Pearl made friends with Lola, who my date was dog-sitting at the time. Pearl tends to get overwhelmed by the number of high-energy dogs at dog parks, but she was a big fan of the one-on-one time with her new furry friend. I can’t wait to set up more Pearl play dates. 

If your date doesn’t have his/her own dog, it’s still worth taking your dog along for the date. So long as your date is not allergic to or afraid of dogs (which you should find out first), they will probably be hyped for a chance to hang with your furry friend. I personally witnessed this when I went on a first date with a wannabe-dog-owner. He was so eager to meet Pearl that our second date was at the dog park! He got extra points in my book for suggesting that. If your date isn’t excited to meet your dog, then you know you’re wasting your time anyway – am I right? 

Pooja Salhotra

Pooja Salhotra brought her dog Pearl along for a Sunday brunch date at Leeland House. 

Another reason I like bringing Pearl along on dates is to ease my parents’ worries about the online dating world. Pearl is fiercely protective of me, literally guarding my room when I’m not home and barking whenever anyone enters our home. My parents’ concerns about stranger-danger are alleviated knowing Pearl is by my side when I’m meeting someone new. 

Third, dogs are intuitive creatures who are highly skilled at perceiving who is friendly and who is a potential threat or untrustworthy. (See this article and this one for more on that.)  Knowing how your dog feels about a new person in your life can be helpful, especially if you’re not quite ready to introduce your date to your human friends.  

As the summer heat (hopefully) dies down over the next few weeks and we move into fall, I’m preparing myself for exclusively going on dates where my pup Pearl can come along. You may think that would be a challenge here in Houston, but there are, in fact, plenty of dog-friendly places that double as fun date spots. Here are some of my favorites as well as places I am excited to check out: 

Dining

Leeland House 
2119 Leeland Street
Hours: Monday-Tuesday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m., Wednesday-Friday, 7 a.m.-11 p.m., Saturday, 8 a.m.-11 p.m., Sunday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. 
This is a great spot for a weekend brunch date. I visited this past Sunday, and even in 90-degree weather, it was nice and cool in the front, covered porch area.  Our server kindly offered Pearl a bowl of water, and Pearl was eager to make friends with another nearby dog, Toro. 

Barnaby’s Café 
Locations in River Oaks, the Heights, Midtown, Downtown, Museum District, Montrose and Memorial 
Hours vary by location
With locations all over Houston, this laid-back American café is a fun spot to take a date and your dog, whether it’s lunch, dinner or brunch. 

Giacomo’s cibo e vino 
3215 Westheimer Rd.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Closed Sunday and Monday
This friendly, neighborhood Italian and wine spot knows how to treat your dog. They’ll offer your dog a treat plus a bowl of water while you sip on wine, and they even donate the proceeds from their seasonal dessert to support the Rescued Pets Movement.  

Tacos A Go Go 
Locations in The Heights, Oak Forest, Downtown Tunnels and Cinco Ranch
Hours vary by location
With all the Tex-Mex spots around town, I haven’t made it to Tacos a Go Go yet, but I hear it’s dog-friendly. There’s not much more I need in life than queso and dogs, so I’ll be there soon enough (with or without a date). 

Drinking:

Kirby Ice House
3333 Eastside St.
Hours: Monday-Friday, 2 p.m.-2 a.m., Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Sunday, 12 p.m.-2 a.m. 
I love the sprawling, one-acre backyard area at this bar. There are even lounge chairs and ceiling fans outside to keep you cool and comfy. 

Axelrad Beer Garden 
1517 Alabama St.
Hours: Sunday-Wednesday, 12 p.m.-1 a.m., Thursday-Saturday, 12 p.m.-2 a.m.
Axelrad is a great hangout beer garden, offering fun concerts and events year-round. It’s right by Luigi’s Pizza and also offers backyard hammocks. Take your date to drink and lounge on the hammocks while your pup enjoys the lawn, company and, of course, some pizza crust. 

8th Wonder Brewery 
2202 Dallas St.
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
This East End brewery offers a ton of beer options and has an expansive back area, called “WonderWorld,” that’s dog-friendly. Since this is walking distance from Minute Maid Park, it’s a great pre-game spot the next time Minute Maid has its annual Dog Day!  

Caffeinating:

Siphon Coffee 
701 W Alabama St. 
Hours: Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
Sometimes you don’t want to commit to a full meal with a first date. For that, Siphon Coffee is a great spot. They have amazing iced coffee and a cute side patio that welcomes dogs. 

Inversion Coffee House
 1953 Montrose Blvd. A
Hours: Monday-Friday, 6:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, 7:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. 
This Montrose coffee shop offers a bright and airy indoor space plus a dog-friendly patio that’s perfect for lounging. The baristas also sometimes make fun animal designs in the lattes. And they serve gelato, so you really can’t go wrong!

Antidote Coffee  
729 Studewood St.
Hours: Daily, 6:30 a.m.-12 a.m.
This quirky spot in the Heights offers both coffee and beer/wine, so it’s ideal if you and your date can’t decide whether you need a stimulant or a depressant. Their patio is pet friendly and filled with brightly colored tables and chairs. The only downside is that finding parking here is always a challenge, so be ready to park a couple blocks away and walk over.  

Hanging Out: 

Discovery Green

Dogs are welcome at Discovery Green. Pictured here is a couple with their dog during one of the free Thursday Night Concerts during the summer. (Photo: Katya Horner) 

Discovery Green  
1500 McKinney St.
Hours: Daily, 6 a.m.-11 p.m.
There’s always something going on in Discovery Green, whether it’s a new art exhibit, a festival or a concert. And as the onsite restaurant, The Grove, is dog-friendly as well, you can spend a whole day here with your date and your dog. 

Market Square Park 
301 Milam St.
Hours: Daily, 6 a.m.-11 p.m. 
Market Square Park does monthly movies in the park, and though I didn’t take Pearl last time, many attendees were with their dogs! With Niko Niko’s food truck located within the park, this is the perfect dinner and movie date night where your dog is welcome. 

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center 
4501 Woodway Dr.
Daily, 7 a.m.-6:30 p.m. 
With more than five miles of nature trails, this is a fun date spot for the outdoorsy folks. Just be careful and keep your dog on a short leash to make sure they aren’t running into any snakes or poison ivy!

Hermann Park  
6001 Fannin St. 
Hours: Daily, 6 a.m. – 10 p.m. 
Hermann Park is a beautiful 445-acre urban park with plenty of dog friendly spaces, including the spacious Miller Outdoor Theatre, which offers free performances and films year-round. Nothing to complain about when you can go on a free date with your dog by your side. 

Where are your favorite dog-friendly spots around town? Comment below. 

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