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So a Dog Walks Into a Bar...
From Fido-friendly pubs and restaurants to more exotic furry fixes, here’s our comprehensive animal lovers guide to Milwaukee.


May 2017

June Bug the Pug
at The Roman Coin

If she could read, my dog, Olivia, would have been impressed. Atop the front desk in the gilded lobby, a sign read “Welcome to the Pfister, Olivia!”

While my terrier-hound mix wasn’t even aware of the sign, she quickly became enamored with concierge Peter Mortensen, who bakes banana peanut butter biscotti for visiting dogs. “I just love dogs,” he says, adding that he started baking his homemade treats for a regular guest who raises champion hunting dogs and now offers the cookies to many of the hotel’s canine visitors. “And they’ve never once told me, ‘I think this biscotti needs more anise,’” he says.

The Pfister Hotel’s Rover-Night Package includes a doggy gift basket with bones, dog treats and more, and a donation in your honor to the Elmbrook Humane Society. I’m pretty sure that Olivia would live at the Pfister just to get more treats from Mortensen, and she was pretty impressed with her plush doggy bed too.

Her visit to the Pfister is just one of the many Milwaukee-centric things we’ve enjoyed together. And while Brew City hasn’t made any “top dog-friendly cities” lists yet, it’s only a matter of time. Milwaukee truly is — in my humble opinion — one of the best places to own a dog.

Parks and Rec

There are seven designated dog parks in Milwaukee County, and other parks are friendly to dogs, including South Shore Park. The park even allows dogs at the Saturday morning South Shore Farmers Market, and there’s a designated dog water station with dog lovers dispensing treats. Waukesha County has three dog parks too, so any place you go, your dog can roam with his or her buddies. Leashed dogs are welcome to sit in the county’s beer gardens, and Milwaukee’s Craft Beer Garden at Humboldt Park is a popular spot Tuesday nights during the summer months. Visit for more information.

Bay View’s Chill on the Hill music series welcomes dogs, and several of the local business booths feature free treats.

If your dog is like Olivia, running is fun, but chasing critters is an even better hobby. That’s why Lure Coursing Fanatics in Kenosha is one of the best outings for your best friend (7725 12th St., Somers, lurecoursing There your dog can chase a lure — typically, a plastic bag — attached to a string. While lure coursing is often used to train purebred sight hounds and many courses are breed-specific, Lure Coursing Fanatics opens the sport to any and all breeds. It’s dog-crazy fun, so check the Fanatics’ Facebook page or website for run times and dates.

The other big park offering at the end of the summer season is the Doggie Dip, hosted by Milwaukee County Parks. Every Labor Day weekend after the last day of swimming, Cool Waters Aquatic Park in Greenfield Park (2028 S. 124th St., West Allis, (414) 257-8098) invites dogs to swim in the pool. If your pooch really likes to paddle, visit New Berlin’s K-9 Splash Swim Center (2485 S. Commerce Drive, (262) 641-9540, It offers nose work and agility classes too

If your dog prefers to boat it, try a cruise with your pal on Milwaukee Boat Line (101 W. Michigan St., (414) 294-9450, The Milwaukee Boat Line occasionally schedules pet-friendly cruises. “We allow guests to bring their dogs onboard our daily ‘Sightseeing — History & Architecture’ cruises,” says Kaila Chianelli of Milwaukee Boat Line. “We simply ask that the dogs are well-behaved, remain leashed at all times, and take care of ‘business’ prior to boarding.” Call or check online for availability.

And if you happen to be both a big hockey fan and a dog lover, come to the Purina Dog Day Afternoon, an annual event in which dogs can watch the Milwaukee Admirals play hockey for only $2 a ticket. Go to to learn more.

Neighborhood of Note: Brady Street

Yes, Brady Street is for hipsters and hippies alike, but it’s also for dogs. The cafés, bars, restaurants and most of the stores have water dishes dotting the street. Not only that, but many of the businesses allow well-behaved dogs inside, including some stores and bars. (Alas, the city health department does not allow dogs inside any of the restaurants.)

Restaurants and Cafés

Not every patio is Fido-friendly, but a lot of restaurants and cafés welcome well-behaved dogs:

Palomino (2491 S. Superior St., (414) 747-1007, is nearly pooch perfect. Pups are, on occasion, gifted with bacon from servers.

• Those folks at the Lowlands Group — Cafés Hollander, Centraal, Benelux and Bavaria — all bow-wow canine customers. They’re great places to sip a brewski with your Snoop-ski; visit for locations across the metro area.

• The friendly staff at Café Manna (3815 N. Brookfield Road, Brookfield, (262) 790-2340, won’t offer your pups any bacon, but they will welcome them with water dishes. And if you happen to prefer to dine vegetarian or vegan because of your love for those with fur and feathers, then this is the place for amazing eats too.

The Wicked Hop (345 N. Broadway, (414) 223-0345, is wild about wagging tails, and it’s a great place to brunch with Bowser.

• Like practically all patios in Bay View, Kindred on KK (2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 446-3640, welcomes dogs, and it offers a choice of two ultra-plush seating selections — by the gorgeous hawthorn tree or near the warm fire pit.

Bowser Bars

Quench your thirst for a cold brew or craft cocktail — with your pup in tow — at a local, pet-friendly bar:

The Roman Coin (1004 E. Brady St., (414) 278-9334) is one of the most dog-friendly bars in town. Sit outside in the sun, or step inside, with your dog. And, yes, some of the regulars are dogs, who have been known to belly up to the bar.

Urban Bay View (2301 S. Logan Ave., (414) 509-8732, is a neighborhood tap that sits right across the street from the new Bay View Dog Park on Lincoln Avenue, so after running your Rover, take a seat on the bar’s wooden deck with your pooch or come inside for a brew.

The Art*Bar (722 E. Burleigh St., (414) 372-7880) invites patrons to drink — and to drink in art. While your dog might not be able to appreciate the art, he or she will enjoy the hospitality, as dogs are welcome in both outdoor and indoor environs here.

The Backyard (2155 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 751-4087, invites you to grill your own brats on the bar’s fire pits and share an extra one or two with your beastie. There’s even a green lawn perfectly manicured for rolling and romping.

Camp Bar’s three locations in Shorewood, Milwaukee and Wauwatosa ( all invite dogs to hang out with their owners on the patios. Treats sometimes included.

Dog Travel

The Pfister Hotel (424 E. Wisconsin Ave., (414) 273-8222, isn’t the only hotel to cater to the dogs, er, their owners. Others include:

The Iron Horse Hotel (500 W. Florida St., (414) 374-4766, and its patio bar, The Yard, welcome dogs to stay or to visit in the lobby, with dog treats and packages.

Aloft Milwaukee Downtown (1230 N. Old World Third St., (414) 226-0122, allows guests and their canines to canoodle by the fireplace, and welcome packages include tennis balls for outdoor romping.

The Delafield Hotel (415 Genesee St., Delafield, (262) 646-1600, offers beds, dishes and homemade treats, and dogs are welcome to enjoy the patio of I.d. restaurant with their owners.

The Westin Milwaukee (550 N. Van Buren St., (414) 224-5224,, isn’t open just yet, but plans call for dog packages that include signature bedding and a wellness program that maps out routes for running and walking with your pooch.

Exotic Fur Fixes

If you love your dog, chances are you love other animals too. Here are three places to get a different kind of furry fix:

At the Valley of the Kings big cat sanctuary and retreat (W7593 Town Hall Road, Sharon, (262) 736-9386,, you can feed lions, tigers and bears, oh my! Yes, you really can — safely and by using a big stick guided by a volunteer — offer raw chicken drummies to these beautiful beasts who have been abandoned, abused, injured or retired. But, because this is a private rescue that goes through more than 1,500 pounds of food every day, you have to become a member to be able to visit, and a six-month membership starts at $75. Members receive private tours and introductions to the animals.

While the big cats, including a white tiger and tiger-lion crossbreeds, are allowed to munch on the raw chicken, you can serve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the bears, but you have to take the crusts off. Otherwise they won’t eat them. Farm animals at the sanctuary love apples and carrots, and you can pet them for as long as you’d like. When you’re visiting and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle rumbles nearby, the wolves will howl a chorus, followed by big cat roars.

Shalom Wildlife (1901 Shalom Drive, West Bend, (262) 338-1310, calls itself “Wisconsin’s Wildest Zoo,” and that’s an apt description, as there are 100 acres of zoo to walk or ride a golf cart through. Wild, tranquil and one of the most gorgeous zoos around, this is a place for hiking and enjoying wildlife. More than 400 animals — bears, cougars, elk and more — make their home in quite natural environments, and animal feed is available for purchase. Signs let you know which animals you can feed and which ones have special diets.

Feed a giraffe, train a sea lion or ride a camel. Up close and personal animal encounters abound at the Milwaukee County Zoo (10001 W. Bluemound Road, (414) 771-3040, Not to mention all of the adorable baby animals to coo over and admire. As education is a big part of the Milwaukee County Zoo’s mission, plenty of classes and programs can help you learn more about the animals you love. 


This story ran in the May 2017 issue of: