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Have a clingy dog? West Palm Beach is your next Florida getaway.

It might be the most dog-friendly destination in the Sunshine State.
Rocket the Pomeranian relaxes on the bed of The Ben hotel in West Palm Beach.
Rocket the Pomeranian relaxes on the bed of The Ben hotel in West Palm Beach. [ STEPHANIE HAYES | Times ]
Published Oct. 15
Updated Oct. 15

In a recent news story, a chihuahua sneaked into luggage as her humans headed to Las Vegas. The dog, Icky, had burrowed inside a boot, only to be discovered when the suitcase exceeded its weight limit. Icky, blessedly, was fine.

My first thought upon reading this was: yes, absolutely, of course. I also have a tiny dog, a 5-pound rescue Pomeranian named Rocket. Rocket imperils himself constantly trying to come on adventures. He slips through the door, crawls into handbags, throws his bird bones on the threshold as if he is protesting the removal of a mature oak.

We have left him with dogsitters. Still, sometimes, it’s difficult to deny his wish of undivided attention, 100 percent of the time, with zero breaks.

Since there are three of us in this marriage, we took Rocket about four hours southeast to West Palm Beach for an anniversary weekend. West Palm Beach has not, to my knowledge, marketed itself as the most dog-friendly destination in Florida, but I am giving the tourism people this idea for free.

Can you spot the real dog? Rocket, a Pomeranian, sits with a dog statue inside The Ben, a dog-friendly Autograph Collection hotel in West Palm Beach.
Can you spot the real dog? Rocket, a Pomeranian, sits with a dog statue inside The Ben, a dog-friendly Autograph Collection hotel in West Palm Beach. [ STEPHANIE HAYES | Times ]

We stayed at a new boutique hotel called The Ben, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. Not only are dogs allowed (for a $125 fee), they are on-theme. We’re talking pop-up dog bowl and bag dispenser gifted on arrival. We’re talking golden dog sculptures at the ends of hallways. We’re talking room service with a “fur baby filet mignon.” Do not insult my character; we did not buy Rocket a $30 filet. He prefers ribeye. I’m KIDDING. He prefers chateaubriand.

The grounds are lovely for humans, too, in a leather-bound library way. Our room had a hidden sliding door to the back of the shower, which is ideal if you want to terrorize that special someone while they are trying to relax.

A wall that slides open to the back of the shower in The Ben hotel in West Palm Beach.
A wall that slides open to the back of the shower in The Ben hotel in West Palm Beach. [ STEPHANIE HAYES | Times ]

We ate a romantic anniversary dinner, with the Pomeranian staring at us, on the patio of Pistache French Bistro, only steps from the hotel on Clematis Street. After dinner, we watched a light show outside the restaurant. Rocket enjoyed the fountains set to Katy Perry.

Related: Look at my tiny dog if you feel dead inside

A vegan restaurant called Darbster, named for the owners’ poodle, offered a discount for a couple hours on Sunday if you brought a dog. I have never turned down a discount, and I’m not about to start. We visited Civil Society Brewing, which has a dog mascot and plenty of canine clientele. And we discovered BRK Republic, tucked in the back of a Clematis Street taco shop. You have to register your dog to ensure he is not Cujo. Then, he is free to roam behind the bar and in a pool outside. The place is covered in fake grass, so you know what that means.

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Rocket was allowed at the West Palm Beach Antiques Festival, a monthly gathering at the South Florida Fairgrounds. He also made the cut at a few antique shops, riding in a dog backpack we bought online. Once inside the bag, he does not squirm or make noise, just stares outward like a possessed Furby.

Still, because I was raised midwestern Catholic, I always ask permission, apologize and assume the worst. That posture is apparently not necessary in West Palm. We witnessed a guy with two large breeds inside West Elm in Rosemary Square, just considering couches.

We ventured into the multi-story Restoration Hardware, which looks like Beyoncé's house and has a restaurant on top. My husband said I should act confident with the dog, like the guy did in West Elm. I agreed, then practically screamed, “I AM A PEASANT WOMAN, MAY I HUMBLY ENTER WITH MY FARM FLOCK?”

“Dogs are allowed!” the employee said cheerfully, before making a fuss over the placid gremlin in the backpack. Rocket stared back, fully understanding that he rules our lives and enjoying the vacation designed specifically for him.

It was time to go.

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