If your dog has a bucket list, this place is probably on.
(The Resort at Paws Up)
In the last few years, die-dog bucket lists are one thing — some even going viral.
When my 150-lb. shelter rescue, Zeus, was diagnosed with cancer, which this year given 1-3 months to live, I let my to-do list to tackle his bucket list. At the top? A trip to The Resort at Paws Up in our home state of Montana.
From $650 per person, per night, the Resort at Paws Up is where the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the Rolling Stones stay when they are in the Big Sky Country. (It is true, Usher’s entourage came up to me and asked if she could be a photo of Usher, Jr. standing next to Zeus.)
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But the real celebrities on this 37,000-acre resort are the ones with four legs and a tail that never stop wagging, even when they are sick.
The ultimate paws-pitality
Paws Up, once a cattle ranch owned by Charles Lindbergh, the sons, and the place that the introduction of “glamping” in our vernacular, is the name of the man’s best friend. In fact, the resort in the logo is a paw.
(The Resort at Paws Up)
Not only are guests allowed to bring their dogs if they rent each of the 28 luxury vacation homes, but the $50/night resort pet fee includes a dog bed, a kennel, dog treats, dog dishes, a Paws Up collar and even a welcome letter from Coco, the owner of the dog lives on the premises.
When I opened the door for us house, Zeus made a beeline for the giant yellow lab guarding the fireplace. After a few unreciprocated sniffs, he realized it was a statue and turned his attention to the tennis ball in his welcome package.
(The Resort at Paws Up)
Trails for days, no, weeks
The welcome package also includes a map of hiking trails. Located about 100 miles south of Glacier National Park, Paws Up is located between two national forests. Within the resort there are more than 30 km of marked hiking trails to discover, or in Zeus, territory to mark and squirrels to chase.
Many of the trails are historically significant. In July 1806, the Corps of Discovery covered the same ground. What’s more, Meriwether Lewis had his beloved Newfoundland, Seaman, on his side. The fact Zeus is the half of the island of Newfoundland made here to walk seem even more surreal.
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Location on the water
With 10 km of river and real estate, 2018, a private island on Salmon Lake, Paws Up is a paradise for water-loving breeds who taught us how to dog paddle. While most of the aquatic activities, such as rafting, wakeboarding, fly fishing, kayaking, sailing and jet skiing are reserved for the humans, Zeus was content to just escape the summer heat in the Blackfoot River, while I participated in a Wilderness Workshop organised on the banks of the river. So if the other guests and I filled our watercolor cups with the same river that served as the setting for “A River Runs Through It,” Brad Pitt was not on Zeus ‘ radar. The only thing by his head? Wade, shake, repeat.
Prior to the Paws Up, the only time that Zeus ever have eaten food prepared by a professional chef, was when I brought home leftovers in a doggie bag. That changed when the resort’s Executive Chef Sunny Jin, formerly of the Michelin-star elBulli, learned Zeus was on the property. Chef Sunny offered his condolences — would say he recently lost his dog — and personally asked what the kitchen can prepare for Zeus. That gesture made an impression on me. But it was on the way home after dinner to find a framed photo of Zeus and I by the river that brought me to tears. (The ranch of the social media manager had snapped the photo earlier in the day, but I thought it was for Facebook.)
It is also worth noting that the resort’s spa menu consists of a “Wag the Tail” 15-minute massage treatment only for dogs.
Wine & B****es
Since fibrosarcoma tumor grows exponentially, I don’t know if Zeus will still be alive on the 6th of October. But if he is, he has a ticket for the Paws Up annual Wine & B****es dinner. Promising “wine tasting and tail chasing,” the event features a culinary feast complete with a gourmet dog bone prepared by Chef Sunny and in the care of fun in an indoor arena is larger than most other dog runs. In the past, there is also a four-legged fashion show, a puppy parade, and wines provided by Peter Lynch — a dog-themed wineries in Sonoma.
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The Dogs Classic
The day after the aforementioned dinner, Paws Up hosts its 10th Annual Canine Classic. It is one of the few public footraces that not only makes the dogs together with their owners, but offers courses that are designed specifically for them, so that they can run off-line. There is a two-mile walk, a five-km fun run and even a half marathon through the forest. This year’s special guest, The Honest Kitchen founder Lucy Postins, will hand out the holistic pet food samples, and sharing of recipes for dog food with “100-percent human grade” ingredients. All event proceeds go to the Humane Society of Western Montana — the first place I will look for another dog, when Zeus crosses the rainbow bridge in doggie heaven, that I imagine looks a lot like Paws Up.
Katie Jackson is a travel writer. When she’s not working, she is chasing after a Leonberger named Zeus.