When you arrive into the outback of the island of Ramrod, if you maintain a quiet approach and peer through the mangroves and bushes, you may be lucky enough to observe the elusive wild dogs of Ramrod frolicking in their natural habitat. They will be roving like herculean beasts, sparring with one another for a coconut, a bit of food or even an alligator that crosses their path. They will throw their opponents to the ground and chew their faces with ferocious growling and howling. These beasts are covered completely from head to toe in the natural camouflage of sand, water, muck and grit. They seem to never tire and hold their territory with great vigor. Newcomers to their pack are welcomed, after the prerequisite amount of hours of sniffing and sparring and chasing into the tremulous waters surrounding their environment.
Ok. There are absolutely NO wild dogs in Ramrod Key. I’m embellishing on the games of sweet golden retrievers, French bulldogs, labradoodles, mixes of beagle & shih tzus, pomeranians and various others, young and old, along with my own ferocious little dog, who meet and greet almost daily with their people ~ who they kindly allow to transport them to their favorite play place. They do haggle over coconuts, and the afore mentioned alligator is a revered stuffed toy brought by one of the humans as a gift, but the toy didn’t stand much of a chance in the long run. We have a home made dog friendly pontoon raft that the dogs enjoy with glee, splashing on and off and practicing their jumping skills. They have the freedom to roam, yet the safety of a contained area. All of the dogs are friendly and sweet, there are no dog fights here, just a lot of fun. We do come upon the occasional mess that people have left after partying the night before, which is shameful, but everyone pitches in and the place is pristine again. There is a woman who visits daily with her sweet dog, she is usually armed with a picker and a bag for the purpose of cleaning the area. I applaud her, she is an unsung hero.
This particular place is indicative of the dog parks throughout the keys where a dog can play to his/her heart’s content, happily and safely, where it is such a joy to watch and a constant source of entertainment for us humans. These parks also afford both human and canine to get some exercise and bond with one another. Wherever I travel, one of the first amenities I search for in a new area is the dog park. I have traveled extensively throughout the U.S., and the parks in the Keys rate up there with the best. The dog park at Higgs Beach in Key West has a separate area for small dogs and large dogs – as do the parks in Big Pine Key, Marathon Key and Islamorada. I highly recommend any of the dog parks throughout the Keys as a good place to introduce your dog/s to our lovely islands. They will have a good time, and so will you!
And this is one more of the many things I adore about living in the Florida Keys. They are indeed pet friendly. Often I have arrived at a local outside restaurant/bar, where the patrons are an eclectic mix of people and canines – and the occasional parrot. This is not to say that you will be immediately surrounded by a barrage of drooling barkers or harpy birds wherever you go in the Keys – not true, it is totally up to each person whether you wish to include pets in your outings or not. There are several establishments who provide an outside area for dogs or birds to accompany their owners. Everyone seems to coexist in these areas quite well, and the dogs seem to just be joyous to be included in the outing. There are also pet free options in many places so you can choose to have intimacy with your tropical meal experience sans canine company. Stay tuned for more information on local restaurants and bars……..Meanwhile, welcome to the dog parks of the Florida Keys!