Wellington residents Mark Harris and his friend Millie Moy (far right) walk his dogs, Big Buster, a goldendoodle, and Bolt, a Maltese, through Mounts Botanical Garden on a Sunday afternoon. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
Canines and their humans can savor the beauty of Mounts Botanical Garden the second Sunday of each month
By Arden Moore
Yes, it is true that dogs do dig daily routines. They do like predictability. But I bet many of our canine pals are getting a bit bored by being taken for daily walks at the same time, same place and same duration.
Dogs need and deserve opportunities for new places to sniff and survey. And with spring in full bloom, let me recommend you take your dog for an adventure-filled leashed walk at the Mounts Botanical Garden in West Palm Beach.
Mark your calendar and say it out loud to help you remember: every second Sunday of the month. That is the time when this 14-acre botanical garden permits well-mannered dogs to accompany their people for walks.
Upcoming Dogs Day in the Garden dates are April 11 and May 9 (Mother’s Day). The garden is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the cost is $10 per person, $5 for kids ages 5 to 12 and no charge for garden members.
Hannah Arnst, who lives in nearby Flamingo Park, treated Buddy, her Siberian husky, to a garden sniff and walk and is planning to return.
“We had a blast,” says Arnst, who is the communications manager for the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County. “There was a nice, light breeze and we even met another husky on the path. Buddy seemed to really like the butterfly garden area.”
The garden’s dog event supplemented her efforts to exercise Buddy and stay safe during the pandemic.
“He needs lots of exercise and we have a large backyard for him to run around, but we would do our best to try to walk him in the evening in our neighborhood,” says Arnst. “The garden invite offers Buddy and other dogs a nice change of scenery. For us, it was a great chance to reconnect with nature, turn off our cellphones and enjoy each other’s company.”
Michelle Keba walks her dog Noelle, a 4-year-old black Lab, through the Mounts Botanical Garden. The dog Sundays will continue through September, with the next one scheduled for April 11. Photo by Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
Melissa Carter, the Delray Beach woman in charge of marketing at Mounts, reports that this monthly event is so popular that it will continue through September.
“We estimate that there is one dog for every three visitors coming here,” she says. “When this pandemic hit, Mounts Botanical Garden is a safe place to be. We keep the day low-key: one dog per person, no tents, no vendors. We are finding that people are happy, taking photos and having an enjoyable family day with their dogs.”
Within Mounts are 25 themed gardens with more than 2,000 species of tropical and subtropical plants.
Mark Harris, Millie Moy and their canine friends encounter Tito, a 2-year-old English bulldog, being walked by Nicole Jaeger of Boynton Beach, her mom, Loren Sheldone of Lake Worth, and grandmother Gloria Sheldone of Delray Beach. Photo by Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
At best guess, Carter says, canine favorites include the Sun Garden of Extremes (full of succulents), the Herb Garden for Well Being (with an array of herbs, including Cuban oregano), the Color and Shade Island (filled with bromeliads and ferns), plus the Great Lawn near the koi-filled lake.
“There is always something new blooming here,” says Carter. “There are lots of winding paths and this is a walk that is mentally and physically beneficial to people and dogs.”
To make your outing safe and fun, heed these rules:
• Dogs must be on leashes no longer than 6 feet. No retractable leashes.
• One dog per person only. If you have more than one dog, bring a friend who can walk your second dog.
• Dogs must be up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.
• Pack water and treats and spare refuse bags.
• No dogs are allowed in plant beds or in the lake.
• Mounts is at 531 N. Military Trail, north of Southern Boulevard in West Palm Beach.
• Call 561-233-1757 or see www.mounts.org.
Keep pets away from dangerous plants
With more dogs enjoying outings and more south Floridians tending to their gardens, I reached out to a leading veterinarian for safety advice. Dr. Justine Lee is double board-certified in toxicology and emergency medicine. She offers this advice for homes with cats and dogs:
“No fresh-cut flowers or bouquets of flowers in the house,” says Lee. “If you can’t confidently identify Lilium or Hemerocallis species — or what we call ‘true lilies’ — then it is a big no-no. When in doubt, take pictures of your plants and call an animal poison control to be safe.”
Some plants, if ingested by pets, can cause vomiting or diarrhea or, worse, seizures and death. In South Florida, these five plants rank as most dangerous to pets:
• Sago palm
• Bulb plants
For a complete list of unsafe plants for pets, visit the ASPCA poisonous plants webpage at www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants. The center’s toll-free number is 888-426-4435, and the center is staffed 24 hours a day by board-certified veterinary toxicologists.
Lee offers these five safe plants if you have cats or dogs:
• Spider plant
• Wandering Jew
• Jade plant
• Christmas cactus
“These plants are in my house,” says Lee. “Keep in mind that the majority of plants are relatively safe, but when in doubt, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for lifesaving information.”
Arden Moore, founder of FourLegged Life.com, is an animal behavior consultant, author, speaker and master certified pet first-aid instructor. She hosts “Oh Behave!” weekly on PetLifeRadio.com. See www.ardenmoore.com.