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Miami Is the Nation's Best City for Dog Owners

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Miamians are total suckers for their furry family members -- no surprise in a city where one in five of us snuggle up at night to a canine companion. That's more than 480,000 pooches in our sunny metropolis, which equates to many a wet nose, wagging tail, and puppy-whipped pet owner.

Adorned in tutus, leather jackets, or rhinestone collars (and even, sometimes, au naturel) dogs strut the streets of South Beach and the sidewalks of Coconut Grove with their pet parents in tow. You'd be hard pressed to find a city more friendly to the likes of Fido than our fair Miami. So what is it about the Magic City that makes us such a pet-friendly populous?

1. The canine social scene is tabloid-worthy.
Dog parks (including Blanche Park, with its recent $140K renovation) are a neighborhood priority all over the city. At Kennedy Park, your mirthful mutt can mingle with his favorite friends, big or small. At Perrine Wayside, pooches can sunbathe on the banks of a homemade lake. Pups can even romp the beach in Key Biscayne, Baywatch-style. In fact, there aren't a lot of places man's best friend isn't welcome in MIA.

2. Pet ownership is easy street.
Lucky for all us animal lovers, it's a piece of cake to own a pup around here. Imagine all those poor New Yorkers, whose four-story walkups and concrete jungles make walking a mutt particularly painful. And Midwesterners, so forlorn, forced to brave negative wind chills and blizzard conditions for Fido's potty break. All the while, Miami's dog owners can flip-flop their way to a nice patch of grass in any part of town.

3. Fierce fashions and trendy indulgences abound for man's best friend.
In need of a doggie raincoat or some new boating duds? No sweat. Exclusive boutiques line the streets. From canine couches at the Dog Bar to "paw-ties" at the Doggie Bag Café, custom goods for your special someone are all over town. Ardent pet parents can pick up some holistic, organic treats for little Lassie from the folks at Three Bean Bakery for Dogs, or book Cupcake a model-worthy photo shoot at the Doggy Studio.

4. There's epic celeb-spotting for every species.
Like their human counterparts, canine celebs love the low-key glamour of sunny South Florida. From the Grove's famous lion-maned pooch that rides perched atop his pop's bike seat, to Chocolate, Miami Beach's former panhandling lab, these dogs have seen more than their 15 minutes. Like Miami's human hotshots, you'll spot these mighty mongrels all over town, entourage in tow.

So don't be embarrassed about how much you love your furry fleabag. He probably gets prime position in your bed at night, eats gourmet grub, and dons better duds than you. Not to mention your faithful duties as his personal pooper-scooper. But in our fair city, that's nothing short of normal.

--Hannah Sentenac

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