Pet Connection: Acadia is dog-friendly national park

There were dogs everywhere: on trails, on top of Cadillac Mountain, kayaking on a lake and enjoying lunch with their people at Jordan Pond House.

Where were we? Acadia National Park, on Maine’s rugged coastline.

Last year, I wrote about taking pets to national parks. It can be done, but for the most part, pets are limited in where they can go. They are usually banned from all but paved trails, as well as lodges and visitor centers (although they can walk around outside them).

An exception is dog-friendly Acadia. The 74-square-mile park encompasses much of Mount Desert Island, and its features include ocean shoreline, lakes, forests and Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the north Atlantic coast.

Dogs must be on a leash for their safety and that of wildlife, but that said, they have access to 100 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of crushed-rock carriage roads, which are shared by hikers, bicyclists and horse-drawn vehicles. Dogs are allowed on carriage roads and on most trails; exceptions include difficult trails such as Precipice and Beehive, which require climbing iron ladders or rungs or crossing narrow ridges along cliff edges.

The east side of Jordan Pond trail isn’t recommended for dogs, either; as we discovered, it requires quite a bit of scrambling over boulders. While we saw a pair of Brittany spaniels kayaking with their people, neither dogs nor people are allowed to swim in most of the lakes because they are public water supplies.

Echo Lake and Sand Beach restrict pets during summer. Other restricted areas include the Wild Gardens of Acadia and public buildings. Dog-friendly excursions include horse-drawn tours of the carriage roads, a windjammer cruise on the Margaret Todd, a trip on a lobster boat and a nature cruise of Frenchman Bay.

Leashed dogs may also ride the Island Explorer buses that go to, from and through the park. Pets are permitted at Seawall and Blackwoods campgrounds. If that’s a little too rustic for you, the town of Bar Harbor and surrounding areas have several pet-friendly accommodations, including cottages through Ryan Estate Rentals, Balance Rock Inn (which has a steep pet fee) and chains such as Holiday Inn and Quality Inn.

Dawn Celapino of San Diego and her cairn terrier, Jack, visited Acadia on a recent 10-week road trip to promote fitness for people and dogs (Jack’s Journey USA). When they weren’t driving through the park or hiking in the rain, they parked their RV at Hadley’s Point Campground, a few miles west of Acadia. Amenities included a laundry facility and Wi-Fi.

An alternative suggested by Marie C. Taylor in her book “Doggy Walks and Destinations: Acadia National Park and Vicinity” is to board your dog at a kennel with in/out privileges so you can take him on some outings but still have a place for him to stay if you go somewhere he can’t. Boarding him also increases your choice of lodgings.

Blending pet families

Q: I’m getting married soon, and my fiancé and I will be merging our households. He has nine cats, and I have six cats. What’s the best way for us to proceed?

Via Facebook

A: That’s quite a merger. The good news is that your pets are already used to sharing close quarters. The bad news is that the stress of meeting new cats can definitely lead to urine marking on a large scale in an attempt to carve out some of their own territory. Here are some tips that may help to reduce stress and decrease the likelihood of marking.

▪  Increase the amount of vertical space throughout your home with multilevel cat trees, window seats and ramps, walkways and bridges on walls. Try to have a separate perch for each cat.

▪  Give each cat his own litter box. A good rule of paw is one litter box per cat, plus one more. Place litter boxes throughout the house to make sure bully cats don’t guard them and prevent others from using them.

▪  Have multiples of favorite toys and water dishes. All should have individual food bowls. Spread out the dining area so no one feels threatened.

▪ Place feline pheromone diffusers throughout the house to emit calming signals.

▪  To make introductions, start by separating the two groups for up to a week. Gradually introduce them to the odors of the strangers by rubbing each cat with a washcloth and letting the others sniff it. After they sniff, rub each one with the cloth of the others. This could take a while with your gang.

▪  Set up a situation that allows the cats to see each other without physical contact; for instance, by stacking two baby or pet gates. Separate them this way for up to a week. During that time, feed them and give lots of treats in sight of each other so they have positive associations with each other.

▪  Once you bring them together, hand out lots of treats to all of them as long as they are reacting calmly. By taking things slowly, you have a better chance of everyone getting along.

Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and Kim Campbell Thornton, author of many pet-care books. The two are affiliated with