Lindsey Schmidt loves to take her 5-year-old Wheaten Terrier, Rummy, everywhere. A resident of Old Town Alexandria, she chose the best place to live—walk down the brick-paved sidewalks and you’ll see more than a dozen water bowls set out front of the stores. But she knew there were more places in Alexandria, and across the Metro-D.C. area, that are dog-friendly and she wanted to find them.
Tired of calling venues prior to heading out with Rummy, Schmidt, who is a full-time real estate agent, started working on Leisure Pup two years ago. At first, it was a Twitter feed letting friends know where she, her husband and Rummy were frequenting. Then, she added an Instagram account, and just this March she launched the website where she asks others to submit dog-friendly places they know about.
Schmidt admits that she started Leisure Pup for selfish reasons: “So I have ideas to take Rummy places.” But her ultimate goal is to give people ideas of where they can take their dogs.
“I hate the idea of Rummy being at home alone,” says Schmidt, who takes her sidekick with her even to run errands. “There’s people who are always going to want to take their dogs places and they’ll actively look for places to go take them, but some people don’t even think about it. If they see a friend of theirs share that they were featured on Leisure Pup they might think, ‘I never knew I could take my dog there.’”
Head to Leisurepup.com and you’ll find it similar to a Trip Advisor or Yelp for dog owners, with a listing of dog-friendly places categorized by breweries, coffee shops, dining and drinks, events, lodging, parks and walk routes, shopping and errands and wineries. As Schmidt finds the vendors she adds them to the list, and she does do some reviews as well. She’s even open to others reviewing venues too. “I want this to be very usable,” she says. “To me it’s about having useful information.”
Schmidt is still tweaking the functionality of the site, hoping to add better location searching, but she is mainly working on beefing up content for a broader range of areas. Right now the focus is on Alexandria, and she is starting to add in Arlington and District venues, but she wants to expand options out into Northern Virginia and even out of state locations. She is even open to adding in more categories if someone wants to suggest some she hasn’t already thought about.
Another way of getting people involved in the site is through the Cool Stuff and Lucky Dogs tabs. The first acts as a blog, posting stories about area news for dog owners, and the latter gives pups the spotlight. People can submit photos of their dogs out and about in the area, which serves a two-fold purpose, says Schmidt. “People love seeing their dogs on the site and it gives people more ideas of where they can take their dog,” she says, explaining that the rule to get a photo published is that the picture cannot be of the dog in a home or in the backyard.
So what is Schmidt and Rummy’s go-to spot? “Whenever it’s raining, HomeGoods is our go-to. We can just hop in the car and walk around a store. It gets her out of the house and I support businesses that allow dogs more. I know it is not an easy decision to allow dogs into your establishment, so I appreciate the fact that I can include her. And if we’re going to walk through, I’ll buy something to support the business.” // leisurepup.com