Lakeland named best dog-friendly city by National Geographic Traveler magazine

- Elmo the dog has plenty of room to run around inside Lakeland’s newest dog park.  It’s three acres set right off the city’s Cleveland Heights Golf Course.  Dog Leg Woods Dog Park opened to the public Saturday.

“It is right on the turn too. A dog leg is a turn, on a golf course, so, the name is fitting, Dog Leg Woods,” said city of Lakeland spokesperson Kevin Cook. 

“We really are trying to build a sense of place here in Lakeland,” Cook added. 

That appears to have been noticed, by National Geographic’s Traveler magazine.  It named Lakeland the most dog-friendly small city in America.  

“It was a surprise to us. It was unsolicited, and we see National Geographic recognizes us as the best small city for dogs. That’s unbelievable,” Cook said. 

“They call Philadelphia the 'city of brotherly love,' but I think there's a lot more love down here,” said Elmo’s owner Suzanne Williams. 

The list highlights Lakeland’s many pet stores and dog-friendly spots per capita, including the Red Door Wine Market.  

“It is really about being open to a wide and diverse community, and dogs are a part of it,” said Red Door Wine Market owner Richard Deangelis.

Not resting on their tails, Lakeland is planning to open two more dog parks in the future. 

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