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I have two Boston Terriers that are very well-behaved and whom I love dearly. If you are anything like me, your dogs are part of your family and you want to be able to bring them (nearly) everywhere with you, including out for a day on the springs! The good news is that dog-friendly Florida springs and rivers exist, and here's how I've been able to find and enjoy them with my two fur babies.
First and foremost, I have only tried this hack at Weeki Wachee and Rainbow River -- I'm sure there are other springs around the state that this would probably work at too, but I have yet to find them -- if you know of any, feel free to leave a comment below! Anyways, what I have noticed is that most headspring parks are not dog-friendly, or if they are, like Rainbow Springs, they don't allow dogs in the swimming areas. So, how have been been able to get around that?
What I have noticed is that there are a couple of ways in which you may be able to bring Fido along without breaking any rules:
I was able to take my dogs swimming in Rainbow River by launching from the campground which is dog-friendly. According to what the park ranger told me, dogs are allowed on private vessels but cannot be taken onto their rental vessels -- so you will have to bring your own kayak or paddleboard if you want to utilize this tactic. If you don't want to spend an arm and a leg on a private vessel just for this reason, invest in a cheap-and-easy blow-up vessel like the one I have!
If you are lucky and have a motorized boat that can travel longer distances, you may find that launching from farther away will bring better success with finding dog-friendly areas to launch from.
Additionally, I found this same tactic worked for taking my dogs to Weeki Wachee River (though dogs are not allowed past the state park boundary). By launching from a private dock near or on the Weeki Wachee River you can paddle a short ways upstream to the nicer areas of the river.
For the second option -- renting a dog-friendly place directly on the river or with their own private swimming hole is perhaps the best way to ensure you won't be breaking any no-dog rules.
There are several dog-friendly home rentals with direct water access that you can choose from, and if you are really lucky, you may find one that has their own private swimming hole akin to Gissy Springs.
Of course, I highly recommend verifying all dog policies before you head out just in case anything changes between now and then, and if you know of any other hacks for bringing your pooch along for a swim, let me know!
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