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Shady Acres: Pet-friendly campground in MA

Views of Shady Acres.
Views of Shady Acres.
Nicole Adams (Examiner)

Shady Acres Family Campground in Carver, Mass. is a super pet-friendly campground located in and around numerous cranberry bogs. The plethora of tall pine trees lends to the name “Shady Acres,” and the area is blanketed with a sandy, hilly terrain. Both dogs and cats are welcome, and an up-to-date rabies vaccination record is required at check-in. There is a limit of two pets per campsite, but all breeds are welcome. Upon registration, you will be greeted by the two campground mascots, rescued Newfoundlands Lilie and Maggie.

Shady Acres in Carver, Mass.
Nicole Adams (Examiner)

Shady Acres is set up for both RVs and tents, with 193 sites in and amongst the trees and hills. While 150 of those sites are for seasonal campers, many sites are still available with water/electric and water/electric/sewer hookups. The family-owned and -run campground strives to create a family atmosphere by welcoming everyone of all ages, including the four-legged furries.

With activities such as a swimming pool, kiddie pool, child's playground, game room with two pool tables and arcade games, miniature golf, horse shoes, athletic fields, fresh water fishing, dog park and walking trails, there is no shortage of things to do. If it's quiet time you're after, the campground offers a library where the books are donated by the guests. Feel free to borrow a book during your stay. If you need to stay connected, the campground also offers free wifi.

Other amenities include propane refills, a rec hall rental, new restrooms and showers, sports equipment available for check out free of charge, laundromat, small general store and sunbathing on Ben's Pond's sandy beach. Shady Acres has many weekend activities such as theme weekends – Vegas, Halloween, Hawaiian, Harvest, and other activities such as karaoke, bingo, dance lessons, billiards tournaments, canoe/kayak racing, a nature class, pudding slide, pie eating contest and more.

The well-maintained campground offers daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal rates, starting from $40 daily, $265 weekly, $825 monthly and $2,700 seasonal.

Dogs are allowed to swim in Ben's Pond. Well-behaved, under-control dogs are even allowed off leash to swim. Please outfit your dog with a life vest. All walking trails are pet-friendly, too, of which there are multiple to choose from. Shady Acres is surrounded by Myles Standish State Forest, which can give you hours of walking.

Pets must be leashed at all times and should never be left unattended. Owners are required to pick up after their pets and for your convenience, the dog park has poop bags and a disposal area. Excessive dog barking is not permitted.

Our first impression of Shady Acres was that this was not a place we wanted to stay. It was too crowded for our liking. We were staying at Wompatuck State Park and liked the secluded campsites. Shady Acres was not secluded. After driving through, we went back to the state park and contemplated where to go next.

Due to the two-week maximum-stay rule at MA state parks, and the difficulty of finding campgrounds that allow pets, we opted to “tough it out” at Shady Acres.

Boy were we wrong.

We love it so much at Shady Acres, that after going into our third week, we haven't left yet. I would have to call this place a 'hidden gem,' because it's hard to see what it's like without actually staying here first.

We are two adults and two large dogs.

To say they are dog friendly would be an understatement. Shady Acres truly believes in pet-friendly, where your pets are just as important as you are. And for me, that is a huge deal. Dogs are allowed just about everywhere, except for obvious places like the pool, game room, laundry area, library, etc. The pond is even available for pups to swim in, though my two have no interest. However, they do love the many walking trails that are but moments away.

The dog park is more of a dog area. Depending on what you are looking for, that could be good or bad. For us, it's perfect. It's a small, fenced-in area that allows my two to run around and play with each other. I'm not a fan of the dog parks that have numerous dogs in it at one time. This is not one of those. My two have played with other dogs that are staying here, but it has been a one-on-one type of thing, which I feel is safer for all.

Many sites have dogs. One site had a cat. There are also feral cats that frequent the area, being taken care of by Friends of Carver Animals. For as crowded as it is, it is incredibly quiet. This is due to two things: not everyone is staying at the park at the same time and the park takes quiet and respect seriously. Many seasonal campers are only there on the weekends, so it almost seems completely empty during the week. Many campers are very respectful in their noise level, too.

One weekend there were a few bottle rockets that went off, scaring my dogs to hide wherever they could. I spoke with the staff and they were adamant they do not tolerate that kind of thing.

The owners, staff and campers are incredibly nice. Everyone is very friendly and the staff is very helpful. Pretty much everyone wears a genuine smile.

One downfall was the cat poop from the ferals. It was everywhere. My two dogs think it is a delicacy, so it was difficult to keep them away from it. And as per usual wherever you go, some owners think they are above picking up their dog's poop. Because that is something that personally drives me crazy, I was picking up random poop, aside from my own dogs.

I did have one incident with a site that had their tiny little dog off leash. As I was walking by with my large 70lb dog, this tiny little dog came charging after him (off their site and across the street). The owners did not seem to notice nor care as I was dragging my dog in the other direction. Problem is, this tiny dog was the size of my dog's head, so you can guess which one would have gotten hurt. I had to yell for the owners to come get their dog.

The roads are all dirt or sand. There is some grassy area so your dog does not have to walk on the hot sand all the time. Our stay was/is in (a particularly dry) August. There were a few spots where there was no option but to walk on the hot sand so please keep an eye on your dog's paws. The bugs were at a minimum and we did not have any issues with ticks. We use a natural deterrent for fleas and ticks.

Since the entire area has pine trees, check your dog's paws and body for sap. Ingesting pine needles or sap can upset your dog's stomach. Olive or coconut oil can be used to gently and safely remove sap from your dog.

I would recommend Shady Acres for camping with your pets.

Stay connected with pet friendly campgrounds around the country by visiting Rocky's Reviews: Pet Friendly Campgrounds.

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