Dogs are welcome at the Arboretum

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, October 24, 2018

By Patricia R. Drackett, Director and Assistant Extension Professor of Landscape Architecture
The Crosby Arboretum, Mississippi State University Extension Service

Are you looking for a venue where both you and your dog can have some fun this weekend? Make plans to come to the Crosby Arboretum for Family Pawz Day on Saturday, October 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. We’ll be celebrating this public garden being a dog-friendly destination through the many exciting activities for you and your canine companion to enjoy in a joint event with the Pearl River County SPCA.

This event will feature adoptions, a doggie fashion show, pet portraits, a bake sale, goodie bags, doggie activities, kids’ crafts, music, and personalized collars, harnesses, and bandanas (bring your own if you wish, for personalizing on-site).

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The Arboretum offers more than three miles of walking trails that will provide a shady walk on a hot day, and a variety of visual delights to experience from the pathways no matter the time of year. Many members and visitors visit often to walk their dogs, and it’s certainly a great way for both parties to stay fit and healthy through the regular exercise.

We’ve heard a few comments from pet owners that their dog doesn’t “play well with others”. In this case, please consider paying us a visit at times when events are not being held if your dog would be more comfortable.

Most visitors tend to keep to the southern portion of our public garden, and the Piney Woods Pond, the Pinecote Pavilion, and our Pitcher Plant Bog. But if you will head to the north part of our site, this area is not as heavily visited. Enjoy walking trails along the perimeter of the Arboretum’s Savanna Exhibit, and the 1,000 foot Swamp Forest Trail.  A cypress deck with seating is located on the Swamp Forest Trail, and a small pavilion is found at the north end of our property, for a rest during your walk.

Do you have dogs, especially young puppies, that like to chew on just about anything? If so, it is a good idea to learn which plant species can be toxic to animals, and dogs in particular. For example, all species of cherry trees are highly toxic. The leaves contain cyanide, which is poisonous to all animals. If you need help identifying a plant, consult your local Extension agent.

State Extension Services, found in land-grant universities, are excellent sources of reliable, research-based information. See our MSU Extension Service website for resources on poisonous plant species ( As a landscape designer living in Orlando, I often referred dog owners to publications that were available at the Florida Extension Service (IFAS/University of Florida). Because so many tropical and sub-tropical plant species grow in that state, these were valuable resources for homeowners, especially new residents, for planning their landscape.

Keep in mind that toxicity in plants can range widely. Also, susceptibility will range among animal species. Poisonous species found in Mississippi landscapes may include red buckeye, castor bean seeds, Carolina jessamine, Caladium, daffodils, Delphiniums (larkspur), elderberry, pokeweed, cherry trees, Lantana, English ivy, sago palm, azaleas, wisteria, and oleander. Consult reliable references from the national Humane Society or ASPCA, or call a poison control hotline if you suspect your dog has fallen ill from by ingesting a plant.

Please come to Family Paws Day this weekend! Admission is $5 for adults ($4 for senior/military), and $2 for children. We hope to see you there.

A kids’ clay craft workshop will be held Thursday, October 26, from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. There is no minimum age requirement, as children must be accompanied by an adult. Members’ children $4; non-members’ children $6 (no charge for adults). Space is limited and reservations are requested, so please call 601-799-2311 to register as soon as possible.

The sixteenth annual Piney Woods Heritage Festival will be held November 9 and 10. On Friday, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., you can enjoy a living history presentation on the Pinecote Pavilion. Meet Fannye Cooke, Mississippi’s pioneering conservationist and scientist, and celebrate the early days of the Piney Woods region with Saturday’s exhibitors, music, and demonstrations of traditional skills and crafts such as blacksmithing, quilting, spinning, basket-making, and more at the Heritage Festival. Admission, adults $5, children $2. Free for Arboretum members. We’re still accepting applications for cultural/historical exhibits and demonstrations. Email Jennifer Buchanan at to obtain an application form. See our or visit the Arboretum’s Facebook page for more information. Visiting hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 9 to 5. Our public garden is located at 370 Ridge Road in Picayune, at I-59 Exit 4.