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Dogs in town/on the trail

Hi everybody,
I've been lurking for some time now and finally
have a question that I can introduce myself with.

I'm planning on starting my thru-hike in '97 and
would like to bring one of my dogs as company
for portions of the trail (he also gives me a sense
of security as a female solo-hiker on all of my
trips).  My question is regarding the town visits.

Are there any thru-hikers out there that have had
experience hiking with their dogs?  How do you
handle your town visits and are there any references
that you can point me to that might list dog-friendly
stop-over points?

I know the opinions are mixed on dogs on the trail,
but I have every intention of having my dog sleep
in my tent, not in the shelters, and he is a very
well-behaved mature dog.

Also, in regard to dogs hiking the trail, how
much of an increase in your dog's eating habits
did you notice while on the trail and did you feel
the need to add additional kinds of food (fat sources?)
to your dog's diet?

Thanks for any advice you can offer.