I’d remembered the stories from my previous visit: dolphins love dogs. When we planned our visit to the Florida Keys I knew I needed to return for a visit to Dolphin Research Center, but I didn’t think it would be in the cards as we were traveling with Jake the dog. Turns out DRC is dog friendly!
I couldn’t wait, so our visit began on Saturday, the day before we were to be their guests for a visit. We just went as far as the entrance and gift shop, looking over the t-shirts, books, and jewelry they had on display. We swapped stories about the pod and DRC over the years with the gift shop staff, and we enjoyed as Jake seemed to be ok in this entry part. I was kind of hoping that by being there before the actual visit he would also relax: I was not at all sure how he’d react to dolphins.
The next day we entered the park0like DRC with Jake in tow. He’d already been “attacked” by a dobbie at Robbie’s Marina and had been on edge ever since. The dog hadn’t gotten too close to him, but in seeing Jake had gone nuts, barking like he’d rip our boy apart at the end of it’s lead. We weren’t sure how he’d do with dolphins, those strange looking, other-worldly creatures with the perpetual smile.
The day was overcast thanks to T.S. Debby, but kept the heat to a minimum. The pathways were fine, both paved and rocky, our boy handling it well. There is grass for those inevitable relief moments, and a friendly atmosphere. These are animal-people and everyone who spied the black cocker spaniel-springer spaniel mix was easy with a smile and quick to want to meet him. But we still hadn’t gotten to the dolphin…
There are no baggies for doggies, so bring your own, but other than that, he was more than welcome and in fact, we were regaled with many a story about dogs at DRC.
His first meeting was at the main lagoon where the mommies and their babies were playing with the guests. Interactions kept the dolphin from seeing our boy, but soon that would change. We headed to Kibby and Rainbow’s part of the lagoon next, where Rainbow (Bo) was peacefully resting at the edge of the walkway and within moments, was joined by my other old friend, Kibby, another male dolphin. Bo seemed content to watch from his established spot, but Kibby was soon making circles around the area getting a good look at the boy on the leash.
Later Kibby would repeat this ritual at the far end of the lagoons, circling over and over to spy the dog, seemingly content in checking out the dog who seemed to not even noticed. Jake would eventually lay down and nap in a cool puddle of water while Kibby took his time inspecting the visitor.
It was the girls of the pod who showed off the most interest, flirting and dolphin-giggling at Jake. The girls in their lagoon without the nursery in tow were the most animated. Three of the four here making repeated attempts to communicate with Jake, who seemingly took it all in stride. He’d look, even try to get closer, but for the most part, it was the girls who were intent on making the acquaintance of the fury animal onshore.
Later we returned to the front lagoon and its nursery group, mothers taking note, babies too into the world of baby discovery to really note the strange looking fur ball on shore. But over and over Tursi would return, spying Jake and seeming to enjoy his presence. She’s such a vibrant personality that we couldn’t help but wonder how she’d be if they’d met in person.
Overall, DRC is a great place to bring your doggie family. The staff is warm and friendly to the canine set, the dolphins inquisitive and interested, leading to some special and memorable moments.
There are no bags for the doggie stops, but bring your own and don’t worry about that needed potty break. Water can be had from the food stand – they lent us a bowl when we’d forgot ours and until I ran out to get it.
This is a peaceful, special setting and chances are your doggie family will enjoy the time with you, the lovely setting, and perhaps, will come away with some new friends.
Tursi (with matching pink dot to her baby) would make more than a dozen passes.
We sat to let her watch Jake for a long time, something she seemed to enjoy. Photo Rori Paul
Kibby on one of his many passes. Jake didn’t
always seem to take note (we think
his eyes are beginning to fail him at 12)
but Kibby was more than interested.
We let Jake take a few steps onto the walkway for
the dolphins (these are the girls) to see him better.
They were talking, squeaking, and checking him out
big time! We’re pretty sure flirting was included!
Dolphin Research Center is a dog-friendly location
in the Florida Keys. While your dog may or may not
be as attractive to the dolphins as Jake was,
if they are its a really cool way to experience DRC.