Archive for the ‘Pets’ Category

What I Love About Asheville….Let Me Count the Ways (Part 1)

October 25th, 2013 by blakehouse

I may not have lived in a ton of places, but I have lived up and down the eastern coast of the United States (and have visited a handful of domestic and International places over the years). Out of all the places I have lived, as a city, Asheville is my favorite. .

Why do I love Asheville so? Well, let me enumerate the many reasons that Asheville is a great place to visit AND to live. I’m going to write this post in multiple parts because it is just too long to cover in one.

1) The PEOPLE – I grew up around the melting pot of Washington, DC so was exposed to many different cultures from a young age. But DC is just HUGE and congested, not to mention expensive, and it’s not just DC, it’s the entire DC Metro areas in Virginia and Maryland as well. I just returned from a very enjoyable trip to northern VA for my 25th high school reunion and was disappointed with the amount of time I spent inching along in traffic, whether it was in the mid-afternoon on the weekend or at night. Just a waste of time getting from point A to point B. Asheville is a small version of DC from a cultural perspective (but without the raging politics and hours long congestion). The people here are so unique, and I don’t just mean friendly as in southern hospitality. I mean, the people are interesting. Many come from educated, well-traveled backgrounds and bring a wealth of experience to the city. I find most to be laid back and friendly and they care about their community on so many levels.The city is growing, but there is still a sense of the small town in many ways from the support we give to our local charities and non-profits (Asheville Humane Society, MANNA Food Bank, Appalachian Sustainable Agricultural Project, RIVERLink) to a way of life that includes a large contingent of farm-to-table foods, tailgate markets (WNC Farmers Market, French Broad Food Co-op) and restaurants (Chestnut Restaurant, Tupelo Honey Cafe, Frankie Bones Restaurant & Lounge), as well as a desire for repurposing and recycling instead of throwing stuff away in the landfills (The Regeneration Station, Habitat Home Store, Screen Door Antiques).

Screen Door Asheville

Asheville is home to a large number of entertainers, be they musicians, comedians, storytellers, or actors. We have a varied and interesting artist community from the River Arts District to the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Instead of panhandlers, we have street musicians, mimes, magicians, and other colorful entertainment acts. Friday night drum circle in Pritchard Park is a mainstay in the summer and something that people of all ages come from all over to experience. The LGBT community is a welcome and supported (and supportive) part of the city. They bring a rainbow of colorful personalities along with educational opportunities for our citizens that has strengthened this area. Lastly, the 70s are alive and thriving in certain respects within Asheville with all of the free-spirits and live and let live personalities here.







I don’t want to forget the 4-legged people in this city either. I have become passionate about animal rescue (dogs in particular) and hope to have my own dog rescue some day or have some involvement in the rescue community (at least more than I have thus far). Asheville loves its dog people and we have passed legislation to become Chain Free. Don’t confuse this with leash-free because our puppies still need to be on leashes, but there is a strong movement for people to refrain from chaining their dogs to trees and other chain-restraining systems for long periods of time. As our guests know, Blake House offers 6 of our 7 rooms to people and their pets. We have no breed or size restrictions and welcome all well behaved pooches. We offer dog walking services while mom and dad are out and provide dog amenities in our rooms including blankets, pet beds, bowls, and toys.  Our tag line is Asheville’s Dog Friendliest B&B and we try to exemplify this to the fullest. There are several dog parks in the area and quite a few restaurants with outdoor seating areas for dogs and people. Like me, Asheville has a strong contingent of animal lovers and we truly feel our dogs are our family members.

Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar

In closing Part 1 of this blog, I especially appreciate that anyone and everyone is made to feel welcome in Asheville, at least that has been my experience and what I have witnessed. The feel of this breathtaking city is uplifting. I enjoy telling people why I love Asheville and hope that visitors feel the positive energy as much as I do and that it comes out when they meet me. In Part 2 of this blog, I will address the BEAUTY of Asheville and the surrounding area, including the plethora of things to do while living or visiting the city.


Cutest Dog Photo Contest – Win a $150 Gift Certificate

March 9th, 2011 by Skyla Grimes

I’ve run a few contests here and there over the years, including a military essay contest, trivia contests, and a recipe contest.  But I must say that this contest probably has me the most excited.

I love dogs, all dogs!  And Blake House welcomes dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds. We’ve had a lot and appreciate every dog that chooses to stay here. Asheville is a pet-friendly city, but it is still difficult to find B&Bs that allow dogs. Of the ones that do, most have size restrictions or room restrictions. But not Blake House. In fact, we only have one room that is NOT pet-friendly.

As you can see, I love dogs!  And want to see more come to the Inn. To accomplish this, I’ve made some changes to the website and our offerings to be even more enticing to our four-legged guests.  The website now has a Doggie Scoop page, solely dedicated to our canine guests. And this page will evolve and grow over time. Check it out, there’s a hilarious video of a dog’s leg that is trying to steal the bone from its owner.  I crack up every time I watch it!

We also offer, dog walking services, for a very nominal fee, for our doggie guests. Jake Rusher Park is next to the Inn and while mom and dad are out enjoying Asheville, Amber or I will walk your dog(s) around the park so he/she can exercise and take care of business.  We also provide pet sitters and doggie daycare information on the Doggie Scoop Page for those looking for even more for their dog.

Lastly, we offer all kinds of romance packages and spa services for mom and dad and we’ve just added a romance basket for your dog. Fido’s Doggie-Style Romance Basket treats your canine companion to a little pampering.

But, onto the purpose of this post – our newest contest – the Cutest Dog Photo Contest

All the details and rules are on our Facebook Page, but this is a straight photo contest. Each month, send in one photo of your cutie patootie, and your dog could win a $150 Blake House Inn Gift Certificate.  Winners will be selected by votes on the site, but you must be a Fan to enter.

How cool is that? Maybe Fido can use that gift certificate for all the things discussed above.  The only catch is that mom or dad, or both have to tag along on the trip. :-)

Check it out and in the meantime, here are a few shots of some of my cuties. Sophie is our Jack Russell foster dog from Animal Compassion Network.


Squirt, Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix


Jenny, Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix




It’s the End of Summer and I Can’t Think!

August 31st, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

I’m not a writer, so I can’t have writer’s block. I’m not a blogger, so I can’t have blogger’s block.  But I’ve definitely been having trouble coming up with the topics and the energy to write anything. I think it all started in June when my dog, Hummer, passed away. Since then, I began working at Eagle’s Nest Foundation and July and August have been pretty busy months at the Inn. Between being depressed about losing my baby and dealing with the summer crush as well as a new job, I feel like I haven’t had the energy or inspiration. You’d think that with all the summer action around here, I’d have no problem coming up with interesting topics.

But I can’t think of ANYTHING that I want to/feel like write about!

I’m sure I could blog about the new piece of flooring in the kitchen I had done last week ($1600 later and it’s only 1/4 of the entire kitchen floor space). Or, I could talk about the Family Reunion Cruise I just returned from (I probably will share that soon). There’s also all the fun summer activities that took place in Asheville or the cool fall lineup, including the Flower Carpet at Biltmore and Octoberfest (another beer festival). There’s a wedding at the Inn this weekend that could inspire me to write and another one the first weekend in October that I’m preparing for. Lastly, I could always talk about my super sister, Jessica, and her admirable battle with breast cancer these past six months (another probably will blog).

There are definitely lots of topics to write about. I just need to find my mojo and get back into the groove.  I’d really love to hear from anyone (professional writer, blogger, or novice) what tips they might like to share with me and the general public about how they deal with the infamous “block” that invariably happens.  What can/do you do to get past it?

A Tribute to My Beloved Weimaraner, Hummer

June 15th, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

As any true pet lover knows, your pets ARE your children, no matter that they do not live as long as humans. And when one passes away, it is heartbreaking, whether they have been with you for 2 years or 10 years.

My weimaraner Hummer passed away last Friday and I wanted to share some photos and stories of him so that you can enjoy just a little of the happiness that Hummer brought into my life. Even as I write these words, my eyes tear up in remembrance of him. He truly meant a lot to me and I know that he will never be replaced in my heart.

I first decided to adopt a dog when I lived in Florida. My son and I already had two cats, but I wanted a companion and running partner. In Florida, I was a runner and participated in many charity running races from 5Ks to Half Marathons and even triathlons for a few years. Florida is perfect running territory because the roads are flat and there are sidewalks everywhere (at least in Central Florida where I lived). So I wanted a partner to keep me company when running that I didn’t actually have to talk to and waste energy while running. After several months of looking and considering different breeds, I settled on the Timucuan Weimaraner Club of Florida, a breed-specific rescue organization. Among the handful of rescues available for adoption was 6 month-old Hummer. The story was that Hummer was found on the side of the road somewhere in Georgia and had been with the rescue for a couple of months. I had to pass a screening process which included a home visit and had to sign a contract stating that if I was ever unable to care for Hummer, that he would be returned to the rescue. That is one fabulous thing, among many, with rescues. They are dedicated to their animals and will take them back no matter what. Also included in our adoption were a beginning series of obedience training sessions at Best Paw Forward.

We first met Hummer at Best Paw Forward where we filled out all the paperwork, then took him for his first training session. At six months old, he weighed just under 50 lbs.

At first, Brian (almost 10 years old) was bigger than Hummer, but before long, Hummer gained a lot of weight and Brian found it more difficult to handle him. Unfortunately, our female cat, Baby Girl, didn’t like Hummer and so he intentionally bothered her because he knew she didn’t like him. He’d stare at her or poke at her with his nose to get a rise out of her, just because he could. He never growled, bit, or ran after her, just intimidated her with his intense stares and lunges. He didn’t bother with our male cat, Whiskers, because Whiskers didn’t seem to care about Hummer’s size and didn’t allow him to bother him. Therefore, Hummer left him alone. It was quite funny at times to watch Hummer pestering Baby Girl and making her meow and run away. Then he’d look at me as if to say,”What? I didn’t do anything.”

By the age of 2, Hummer was up to 93 lbs which was the average weight he carried. He turned out to be a great running companion and would run between 3-5 miles with me. For a weimaraner, he tended to be on the stocky side, even though we ran together quite a bit. At his heaviest, he weighed a little over 100 lbs, but tended to maintain an average between 90-95 lbs. He went most places with us, including a pet-friendly B&B on Amelia Island for my 34th birthday, to the beaches on the gulf coast of Florida when I visited my mother near Casey Key, and a couple of times to Va when we drove up to visit family.

Hummer was always attention- and food-hungry. He preferred to be wherever his “people” were and would only stay outside by himself long enough to do his business, then he wanted to be inside with us. We learned very quickly that Hummer was quite intelligent when it came to scoping out anything food-related. The cat food had to be kept in the furthest corner of the counter and trash cans had to be kept behind cabinets. Any slip up on our parts, no matter how old he got, and the result was a torn up trash bag or overturned trash can with trash spread around. Even after moving to NC in 2006, Hummer figured out how to open the corner carousel cabinet where we kept the dry foods so we had to start putting his food bin in front of it so he couldn’t push the cabinet open. I could never get too mad at Hummer for these hijinxs because it was more like a battle of brains to see who won.

In December 2005, a few weeks before we moved to NC and the Inn, Hummer and I were out running and were a block from our house when Hummer was viciously attacked by a K-9 police German Shepherd. The dog had escaped from its garage and, we learned, was male dog aggressive. Because we were on a public road and many people were driving to work or school, a couple of good Samaritans stopped to help us. Hummer’s back and shoulder were ripped open and he needed 17 staples to close the wounds and a drain tube for 4 days to keep the infection out and to allow the wounds to drain. The police department paid for all of his veterinary bills and Hummer never seemed to be afraid or affected by dogs afterward. I, on the other hand, became very nervous when out with Hummer. Not for my safety, but for his. I never wanted him to be attacked again so I started carrying a taser with me.  Once we moved to NC, Hummer and I ran outside for a short while, but I began to run at the YMCA on the treadmill.

For a couple of years, Hummer attended doggie day care at At Play With Sparky so that he could exercise and interact with other dogs. But as he started getting older, his tolerance of other dogs jumping all over him waned and he’d end up in timeout because he’d snap at the other dogs. I’d hold my head in shame on those occasions I had to pick him up whenever I’d receive a naughty boy report. So, I stopped taking Hummer to daycare and we officially said that he was “retired.” He seemed to enjoy spending most of his time on the couch anyway and he would get daily walks around Jake Rusher Park next to the Inn. He always loved riding in the car whenever possible and had the entire back area of the 4Runner to himself, even after we adopted Jenny in fall 2008 and Squirt in spring 2009.

By the time we added the two small dogs to our menagerie, Hummer was well into retirement and pretty much ignored them, unless one annoyed him and then he’d put him/her in their place. After a good set down, the little dogs stayed out of his way.

In the last year or so of his life, Hummer definitely became somewhat cantankerous when it came to other animals and small kids. He snapped a couple of times and I knew that he would be happier staying home when we went on trips or when there was a lot of activity going on at the Inn. I smile as I remember his progression from young child, to mischievous teenager, to crotchety old man. There were definitely character changes along the way that demonstrated his aging. But through it all; every late night sprint for the outside after he’d eaten an entire package of cheese crackers, plastic wrappers and all, to expunge the plastic from his system, to his laziness in not wanting to go downstairs to bark at visitors he could see, but instead laying on the couch barking, not knowing what he’s barking at; Hummer was always happy to see me and Brian. I nicknamed him Mr. Wiggle Tail because his stump was always going, even if I just looked at him, it wiggled.

In the end, I knew it was time when I couldn’t get that tail to wag, not matter that I hugged Hummer tight and stared at it, willing it to move. He just did not have the strength to show me that he loved me, but I knew. And I was there when he took his last breath and it was a comfort to me to know that he went in peace and without pain and that he knew that I loved him, and still do.

Thank you Hummer for being like a child to me and for bringing me so much love and joy. You will never be forgotten.

Leslie and Hummer

Leslie and Hummer

My 5 Favorite Dog-Friendly Activities

April 21st, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

Asheville is definitely a dog-friendly city and there are a plethora of activities in WNC where a person can take their pooch. I certainly have not experienced them all, but wanted to share my 5 favorites.

  • Gray Line Historic Trolley Tours – there are a couple of trolley tours and one comedy tour in Asheville. I am familiar with the Gray Line tours (red trolleys) and I know they allow well-behaved dogs, no matter what size. The trolleys are roomy and the aisles have plenty of space for your dog to sit. My suggestion is to sit as far back in the trolley as possible so nobody trips over your dog. I carry trolley vouchers at the Inn and they are well worth the price. Adult tickets are $20, children (3-12) pay $10. There are 9 stops on the trolley route and the buses run March – December (March is on a half schedule). Riders may exit the trolley at any or all stops and your trolley admission also gets you into the Thomas Wolfe Memorial (sorry, no dogs allowed inside). Some of the trolley stops include the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, the River Arts District, Biltmore Village, and downtown Asheville.
  • Chimney Rock Park – This State park is located 30 minutes southeast of the Inn. Open year-round, the park offers 4-5 different hiking/walking trails, from easy to moderate. The only place dogs are not permitted is the elevator and cafe located at the base of the Chimney Rock. However, you and your dog can still get there by taking the amazing amount of stairs that wind up and around the side of the cliff walls. My dog Hummer (a 90-lb weimaraner) made it with little effort, but it may prove strenuous for older, short-legged dogs. If that is the case, there are several easy to walk trails; one leads you to the base of the waterfall. The Park offers all sorts of cool activities from bird watching, to photography lessons, rock climbing to an Easter Sunday Sunrise service. Cost to get into the park is $14 for adults, $7 for children, free for dogs! I carry $1 off discount coupons at the Inn.
  • Asheville’s Urban Trail – The Urban Trail is a 1.7 mile walk through downtown Asheville with 30 points of interest, spread over 5 historic periods in time. The self-guided walking tour starts at the Asheville Art Museum at Pack Square, but tourgoers can start at any point and end at any point. I carry trail guides at the Inn and guests and dogs are free to stop along the way at one of the many restaurants in downtown Asheville that offers outdoor seating so that you can refresh and re-energize before completing the tour.
  • North Carolina Arboretum – The Arboretum is a 434-acre natural preserve with 65 acres of cultivated gardens and 10 miles of hiking and biking trails. Parking is $8 per vehicle and the first Tuesday of each month is free. There are nine different trails rated from Easy to Difficult. The Arboretum offers permanent and temporary exhibits, a unique bonsai collection, and educational programs for adults and children. The Arboretum is located approximately a 10-minute drive from the Inn and will provide a wonderful outdoor experience for you and your pet at a very reasonable price.
  • Biltmore Estate – No Top 5 List would be complete without mentioning the Biltmore Estate. While dogs are not permitted in the house, the rest of the 8,000-acre estate is open to your canine friend, including many walking trails.  If you want to enjoy the house, I recommend making use of the Estate’s kennels, located in Parking Lot C. This lot is typically used by RVs and buses, but there is plenty of parking for regular vehicles and you can catch a shuttle bus to the house from this lot.  The kennels are self-serve and free of charge. There are 8 kennels, very nicely maintained and sturdy, enclosed on all sides and located under trees, thus providing additional shade. The kennels also have water bowls for your pets, plenty of room for them to move around, and locks for you to take the key.  I snapped several photos of the kennels so you can see what they look like in advance of your visit…
    Biltmore KennelsBiltmore Kennels Biltmore Estate

There are many, many more dog-friendly attractions and activities around Asheville. I carry maps and hiking guides that include specific information on hikes that are appropriate for dogs. So if you are wondering what to do in Asheville with Fido, start with my Favorite 5 list and if you get through it, I can promise to provide more options for you.

Hope to see you and your dog in Asheville soon!


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