Dog Days on Sanibel
This region is famous -- not for dogs -- but for Florida's biggest cats. A few dozen endangered Florida panthers still manage to eke out a living in the cypress swamps and pinelands of Southwest Florida.
But don't get excited, pooches. The chairperson of a state commission remarked a few years ago that this comer of the state, one of southern Florida's greenest swaths, is as ripe for urban sprawl as concrete-covered Broward County was 15 or 20 years ago. It's just prime for being paved over into another endless sea of subdivisions and shopping malls.
Even with all that green space, it's not easy to find a place to play with your dog. That's especially true in the two biggest towns -- Fort Myers and Naples -- so you'll probably want to head to the more hound-hospitable destinations of Sanibel Island, Pine Island, and Bonita Springs.
Still, the area holds promise. You and your canine companion can enjoy everything from fishing and boating to checking out an archaeological dig on Pine Island.
A water-loving dog will enjoy Sanibel Island, an enlightened spot that allows pooches to cavort on coveted beachfront (smart people, these Sanibellian tourism promoters). But don't forget Pine Island, particularly if your pooch is the type who likes to get away from the well-trod tourism paths. Maggie's favorite place was the usually-deserted Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Stay in salt water -- or at least the brackish stuff -- and you're unlikely to encounter alligators.
Landlubber doggies should head inland. Your furry friend can find a place to walk in the woods across many hundreds of square miles west of the already-too-peopled coast.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication