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A dog lover's favorite dives

Austin's varied parks please local, her dog

Arianna Auber
aauber@statesman.com
Amy Fitzsimmons

For Amy Fitzsimmons, much of a typical day is defined by her love of dogs, her teaching job and her appreciation for dive bars around town.

During the school year, she teaches pre-kindergarten at Pioneer Crossing Elementary School in Northeast Austin. But during the summer, she is free to do as she pleases, and she spends her time either hiking the Greenbelt with her dogs, volunteering with local animal shelters or discovering bars that aren't on Sixth Street.

"I used to like going clubbing and doing that scene, but now I'm a dive bar girl," she says, listing Deep Eddy Cabaret and Tigress as a couple of venues that she prefers to frequent.

Deep Eddy Cabaret, located by the pool of the same name, is laid-back and rarely crowded, with a jukebox playing blues music in the background. And Tigress, she says, can offer a great mixed drink.

For coffee, Fitzsimmons is going to Dolce Vita, a local gelato and espresso bar close to her house in Hyde Park. It's a neighborhood she loves because "everything is right here," but it's not busy and is much quieter than South Austin.

Her favorite pizza joint also isn't south. Many locals swear by Home Slice, an always packed pizzeria off South Congress, but she thinks House Pizzeria, at Airport Boulevard and 51st Street, offers the best slices in town, in particular one with potato and goat cheese.

If she's not exploring the bar or restaurant scene, Fitzsimmons is often with her dogs. They used to love hiking Bastrop State Park, but since the Labor Day fires last year that consumed much of the park, they now go to the Greenbelt, Lady Bird Lake or Shipe Park near her house.

She started volunteering with Austin Pets Alive after adopting her half-shitzu, half-American-pitbull, Monkey, from the nonprofit animal rescue group, and now she and four others who had worked in the dog behavior program there are starting their own nonprofit. Called Dogs Out Loud, it will aim to save the medium-to-large breed dogs that are still dying in local shelters.

As the start of school approaches again, Fitzsimmons says that she and the other Dogs Out Loud founders soon will go to Crú, a wine bar at West Second Street, to celebrate turning in the paperwork to make Dogs Out Loud a 501(c) nonprofit.