Curing Boredom for You & Your Pup

Oregon is on fire. So is California, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Colorado. Which means there is a whole lotta smoke covering most of our country. A lot of us our stuck indoors, and a lot of our Pups are stuck indoors too. So I thought I would share a fun dog craft with everyone!

snuffle mat

This is a Snuffle Mat. I know it just looks like a mess of fabric, but trust me, it’s actually a pretty fun game. It’s used for easy nosework and offers great mental stimulation for your housebound Pup. They are mass produced, come in a variety of styles, and sell for about $40+ in stores. But the good news is you can spend about $5 and make one yourself! It helps cure hours of boredom for you, feels great to make your Pup something they love, and helps your Pup work out his brain while stuck inside!

They are super easy to make, but I’m not going to lie, they take A LOT of time! If you’d like me to make you one, please shoot me an email! I make them and sell them for $20 and all profits go to the Oregon Humane Society!

Supplies:

  1. Scissors
  2. Plastic Sink Mat (pictured below, you can find these for about $4 at ACE)
  3. Felt or any super soft fabric, remember your Pup is going to be shoving his snout into this! The softer the better! (Thrift stores are excellent places to find super cheap felt/fabric! You can also recycle some unwanted clothes!)
  4. Patience & maybe a good show to binge
plastic sink mat

Steps:

  1. Begin cutting felt into strips, about 1″ wide and about 5-7″ long. They don’t have to be exact, having them vary in dimensions will spice things up on your finished mat 🙂
cut strips of felt/fabric

2. Begin by inserting one strip of felt through two neighboring holes in the sink mat, then tie it off. Continue looping the felt strips through holes and tying them.

loop felt through holes in sink mat and tie them off

3. Continue tying the felt to the plastic mat until every hole, and every direction has fabric through it.

tie felt through every hole, in every direction. this photo is of the bottom of the mat, so you can see how it should look.

That’s it! You’ve made a Snuffle Mat! Now break up some treats and nestle them into the felt “fingers” and let your dog go to work! If you’re really bored you can make several of these and place them around the house full of treats! That way your Pup can get a little extra brain work in!

you can see how thick the felt becomes when you’re finished, and the challenge it will present your Pup. we like using soft treats that are easy to break apart & tough to fish out.

* There are a lot of tutorials online if you need some video guidance

Dogs & Wildfires

The entire West Coast is burning. Thousands of people have lost their homes and have had to evacuate. Areas not on fire are consumed by thick smoke. Oregon is under a state of emergency. Air quality in Central Oregon is horrendous and people have been advised to stay indoors. But what do the fires and smoke mean for your Adventure loving Pup?! And what about all your other pets and livestock that have to stay outdoors?!

photo credit: Noah Berger, Associated Press

As unhealthy as smoke can be to humans, it can also cause serious health problems for nonhuman animals. Smoke from wildfires affects pets, horses, livestock and wildlife. If you can see or feel the effects of smoke yourself, you should take precautions to keep your pets and livestock safe.

Look for the following signs of possible smoke irritation. If any of your animals are experiencing any of these signs, please consult your veterinarian:

  • Coughing/gagging
  • Difficulty breathing; panting, wheezing, gasping
  • Eye irritation
  • Excessively drinking water
  • Reduced appetite and/or thirst
  • Inflammation of throat or mouth
  • Nasal discharge
  • Fatigue/weakness/lethargy
  • Disorientation or stumbling

Tips to protect pets & livestock

  • Keep pets indoors as much as possible, and keep your windows shut.
  • Birds are particularly susceptible and should not be allowed outside when smoke is present
  • Brief outdoor bathroom breaks
  • Avoid outdoor exercise during periods of poor air quality.
  • Have a pet evacuation kit ready, include your animals in your disaster preparedness planning. (see below for kit info)
  • Limit exercise when smoke is visible. Don’t require animals to perform activities that cause labored breathing.
  • Provide plenty of fresh water near feeding areas.
  • Limit dust exposure by feeding low-dust or dust-free feeds and misting the livestock area.
  • Have a livestock evacuation plan ready in advance. Coordinate with neighbors/friends if you don’t have enough trailers.
  • Remove dead trees, clear away brush, and maintain a defensible space around livestock structures.
  • Give livestock 4-6 weeks to recuperate after the air quality returns to normal. Attempting to handle, move, or transport livestock may delay healing.

The fires have been spreading quickly and many people are awaiting evacuation orders. If you have not prepared for emergency evacuation, and are looking for some guidance on how to do so, The American Veterinary Medical Association has everything laid out in a downloadable booklet entitled “Saving the Whole Family”.

If you and your Pup don’t have the option to stay indoors, there are air filtering masks for dogs that can help them breathe and stay healthy.

2020 has been challenging… but we can make it through! Be prepared, be thoughtful, and be safe!

Stayin’ Cool While it’s Meltin’ Out

It’s August and it’s hot out! Hopefully you and your pups have been enjoying all summer has to offer! But what do you do when it’s just too hot for your pup to safely enjoy outdoor activities? Here are some things Link & the Adventure Pups like to do to avoid melting!

  1. Early Morning & Evening Walks & Outings
    • Depending on your pup’s age, weight, health, & breed temperatures as low as 70 degrees can be too hot to exercise in
    • For most pups, 85 degrees is too hot and can lead to heatstroke when exercising (especially when overweight, elderly, or brachycephalic breed)
    • Feel the ground with the back of your palm to make sure it’s not too hot for your pup’s paws
    • Don’t forget how hot the inside of your car can get- if it’s only 70 out and you leave your pup in the car for half an hour, the inside of your car could be 105 degrees (even with all the windows down)
  2. Water, Water Everywhere
    • Take your pup to dog friendly bodies of water so they have easy access to cool down- make sure the water is from a clean source before allowing them to take a dip
    • Human swimming pools contain chlorine, so be sure to rinse your pup after swimming in one (double the water! woohoo!)
    • Kiddie Pools are great things to have in the yard for your pup
    • Bring a portable water bowl and plenty of fresh water for you AND your pup- don’t rely on nature’s water, it can contain hazardous bacteria & parasites that could kill
    • You can both have fun running in the sprinklers while watering the lawn- some pups enjoy the mister hose attachments too
    • Wet bandanas around both yours and your pup’s necks keep you cool
  3. Pupsicles & Cool Treats
    • Mix up some plain yogurt & your pup’s favorite berries/fruits/veggies/treats, pour the mixture into an ice cube tray & pop em in the freezer
    • Put peanut butter or squirt cheese in a Kong (feel free to mix in kibble or treats) and put in the freezer
    • Watermelon! That’s it… it’s delicious & refreshing
  4. Fun in the Sun
    • Paddle boarding & Kayaking are great ways to bond with your pup- always make sure your pup wears a life jacket
    • Floaty toys are a great way to get your pup into the water, just be sure to throw them where you are able to fetch them yourself, just in case
    • Doing a river float is a relaxing way to hang out with your pup- have them wear a life jacket and give them breaks from swimming (even the most talented swimmers can drown!)

The main thing to remember is: your dog is more heat sensitive than you. Always make sure they have fresh drinking water, access to shade, and that they don’t overexert themselves!

Shelter-in-Place Doesn’t Have to be a Snooze

Being stuck indoors is rarely fun, especially when your inner Adventurer starts screaming to get out! Here are some ways to avoid becoming a couch potato and to help keep you and your furry sidekicks happy and entertained while you Shelter-in-Place!

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  1. Fort Building- Believe it or not most pets love forts! They aren’t that great at helping build them, but that’s the fun part for you! Dogs, cats, rodents, birds, and reptiles can all appreciate a good fort, you just have to tailor it to their personality. A man who called himself Papa Jake has a YouTube channel dedicated to box forts, including some made specifically for nonhuman animals!
    • Have you heard? Boxes are an excellent fort building material! And most animals love playing in them! Dogs are a little clumsy with box forts so you have to be thoughtful during your build, but cats, rodents, reptiles, and birds can handle the most cattywompus of box forts. You can find free boxes on CraigsList or NextDoor!
    • Sheets, blankets, & towels, oh my! Blanket forts are a little easier for larger pups to enjoy, and other animals enjoy the comfort blankets offer. You can build it big enough to include their bed, a comfy spot for you to sit, and your tv or computer for binge watching Animal Planet. If you don’t have enough sheets or towels, you can get creative and use clothes!
  2. Getting Fresh Air- Basically the only thing we’re allowed to do is go outside for a walk. Not only does your dog enjoy this, but all your pets will love getting out! They make leashes & harnesses for basically every shaped animal alive! If you can order pet supplies from a small or local business please do! But you can easily find leashes & harnesses on Amazon.
    • Go for a smell walk! Don’t just stare at your phone and tug your pet along, instead really get into it! Explore smells with your pet! Hold your kitty up to a tall tree so she can smell the otherwise unattainable leaves, and smell them with her! Let your ferret dig through shrubs to explore new scents, and maybe just take a distant whiff! How often do you use your nose? How often do you share sensory experiences with your best friend? Just steer clear of anything they might be rolling in! Yuck!
    • Scavenger Hunt! Take a walk with your fluffy pal and bring some trinkets along. Nothing important to you, could even just be small stones. Get your scent on them, roll the item around in your hands and get em nice and smelly. Then on your walk simply place the totems randomly along your path. On your next walk allow your pet to try to seek these totems out! Keep a score of how many they find! (You can do this activity inside your home as well!)
  3. Hide n Seek- Exactly what it sounds like! Have your pet stay in one spot while you hide, then call them to you so they can seek you out! This game really only works with dogs, and in my experience rats & rabbits. Whenever I have tried playing it with a cat I come back to find them snoozing in the same spot I left them in. And forget about playing with a reptile, they prefer to be the hider not the seeker.
  4. Puzzles- Brain games are a great way to help pets pass the time and exercise their minds! Be careful when playing these games with cats… if they get any smarter they might finally take over the world!
    • Hiding treats around the house is a great way for your pet to use their nose and brains to find them! Have then stay in one spot while you hide the treats in easily accessible areas around the house! Don’t hide treats near irreplaceable family heirlooms! This works with almost all pets!
    • Use household items to create a puzzle game for your pets. Placing tennis balls in a muffin tin easily hides treats and your pet can sniff them out and figure out how to get to them! Imagine a Kong, and then get creative to make your own at home! Toilet paper and paper towel rolls are great makeshift Kongs! Fold up one side of the cardboard roll, plop some treats inside, and then fold the other end! Your pet will have to chew the roll apart to get to the goods inside! You’ll have a mess to clean up, but that’s all part of the game 🙂
  5. Energy Work- Spending quiet time bonding with your pet will greatly benefit both of you! You’re normally so distracted with work, and kids, and friends, and television, and Reddit… why not spend this time slowing your brain down and connecting with your best friend. Maybe now is a good time to master Reiki!
    • Pets, massages, and tTouch are all great ways to quietly sit with your pet, quiet your mind and deepen your bond. You can find different massage techniques and tTouch exercises on the World Wide Web. There’s something offered for every type of animal!
  6. Treat Making- This is a great way to get your kids involved in dog care! And to get them out of your hair for a bit 🙂 I prefer making easier, minimal ingredient treats, like pupsicles! But you can get pretty crazy with your treat making! There is a list on Good Housekeeping that has some more extravagant treats, but if you want to keep it simple just blend some peanut butter, plain yogurt, and bananas and add the mixture to an ice cube tray to freeze overnight!
  7. Try Something New Together- Try anything new with your pet! Anything! Something you’ve never done before, but perhaps have always been curious if your furry best friend would enjoy. My dog rarely plays ball, so one day I decided to try a soccer ball and he was all about it! He now has 3 Chuck-It soccer balls and wants to play every day! When my outdoor cat became an indoor cat, I got her a harness to take her outside for mini trips. She hated it. So much. But after a few outings, she began to enjoy being outside again! She refused to walk on the leash with me, in case one of the neighborhood cats saw, but she enjoyed when I sat in the yard and gave her a long leash so she could safely explore! The new activity you try together could range from reading your pet your favorite book to seeing if your cat enjoys slack-lining. Get into it!

The Retractable Leash

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Last week I was sitting at my favorite food truck pod with my sweet Pup Link. People came and went with their dogs, sometimes coming over to say hello to my Pup. Each dog calmly came over to get and give a brief sniff and then they trotted away with their human. After about five dogs stopping to say hello, in walks a beefy pitbull. He was large and had a big smile on his face, scanning the area for dogs. He saw Link and immediately began walking toward us. Behind him was a small woman, gripping his retractable leash with both hands and being dragged across the gravel as if she was wearing roller skates. She grasped the handle of the leash and held her thumb tight against the leash lock, her other hand was wrapped up in the thin cord, turning white from the lack of blood flowing to it. She kept shouting, “Stop! Heel! Stop!” but the dog continued to drag her toward me. I stood up and asked, “Does he want to say hi?” The woman’s face filled with relief and she allowed her hands a break and let her dog have some extra leash to say hello. The dog calmed and they began to walk away, but then another dog popped into view and the woman was being dragged off again, this time she dropped the large plastic handle and it hit the ground, shattering into pieces and retracting itself all the way back to the dog, who began fleeing in terror into the parking lot, the broken plastic handle clattering behind him.

This is honestly not the first time I have seen this happen. Retractable leashes were  invented in order to provide control over the dog while allowing it more room to roam, but instead they tend to provide little control and absolutely no guidance. Your dog is able to walk about 20ft ahead of you, sniffing and eating whatever they find, wrapping around trees or poles, and hopping into the street in front of an oncoming bicyclist if they so desire. The inventor of the retractable leash has said, “It is usually desirable that the dog should have a certain freedom in running about, but it is difficult to prevent the animal from running on the wrong side of lamp posts or pedestrians, thus causing much annoyance to the owner, who is constantly required to adjust the length of the leash in her hand, and frequently the leash is dropped and the dog permitted to run away. The objects of the present invention are to obviate and overcome all these difficulties and annoyances due to the usual form of leash, and prevent the leash from becoming tangled as the dog runs about.” This directly translates to: “I hate dealing with my dog and just want to zone out while I walk him.” Her description is odd, considering the retractable leash allows more room to run about and go on the wrong side of posts and people, and you are CONSTANTLY adjusting the length of the leash. It is also very easy to drop, and even easier to break! 

The truth is, people only use these leashes because it is comfortable for them to hold. If you remove the large plastic handle you would be left with a thin cord that would slice into your hands, similar to walking a dog on a fishing line, and nobody wants that.

I always recommend a 6ft nylon leash. You can shorten it as much as you’d like, and no dog needs to be more than 6ft from you while on a leashed walk. You can drop it without the fear of it breaking or retracting after your dog. You can adjust your grip and hold the leash in a variety of ways depending on how you and your dog walk together. And the best part is, you are in control. Even if your dog is a puller, a flat leash provides the most control and support. I prefer the simple slip lead that tightens when the dog pulls, which usually prevents the dog from doing so. But every dog is an individual and needs what’s best for them AND you. Try out a few options to see what’s best for both of you, but leave that retractable leash on the shelf!

 

*When researching retractable leashes I discovered that there are A LOT of injuries to both humans and animals when using one of these leashes. I know when the handle is dropped it could retract and injure the dog, but I had no idea how many issues this leash actually had with injuries. They’re even illegal in some areas because of the amount of injuries! Here is a link to the Animal Hospital of North Asheville, if you’d like to read about the potential injuries causes by retractable leashes. Whatever you do, don’t Google Image search it!

I borrowed the image fromDogTime.com, which also has an informative article about retractable leashes 🙂

Feeling Cheated?

Summer in Oregon is amazing, right? The sun is shining, the rivers are glistening, and the cheatgrass is blooming.

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Oh cheatgrass… the bane of my summer existence. But it doesn’t have to be so bad. Below are some tips to help avoid getting cheated, but first let me explain what cheatgrass actually is, for those new to Central Oregon.

Cheatgrass’ entire purpose, much like any living thing on the planet, is to reproduce. It can become a nuisance to pups once the plant dries out and drops its tiny barbed seed pods, which can get into paws, eyes, nostrils, and burrow its way into fur or skin. Cheatgrass usually reaches its prime in summer and early fall and it is quite invasive. They contain teeny tiny barbs that enable the seed to work its way deep into skin and fur, and even into mucus membranes. The barbs are one-way, similar to porcupine quills, causing them to be near impossible to get out.

  • familiarize yourself with cheatgrass and know what it looks like, in all stages of its life. take note of what trails you see it on and where you don’t.
  • check your pet after every outing. you should check your pup’s entire body over, paying extra close attention to ears, eyes, nose, mouth, under the collar or harness, between toes, and paw pads. yea, everywhere.
  • haircuts and grooming. keep those coats trimmed and brushed to limit the amount of fluff for cheat to grasp onto. keep the hair between the toes nice and short, as this is the most common place for cheat to hide in.
  • have a second set of eyes check your pup.
  • make sure your pup isn’t munchin’ on cheat. most dogs enjoy a nibble of grass here and there, but double check to they aren’t ingesting cheat as it can get into the lungs and abdomen and cause serious infections.
  • keep your dog on leash in areas with a lot of cheat, just to keep them from venturing into it.

If your pup has been attacked by cheatgrass, look for signs of infection such as fatigue, loss of appetite, and swelling. If you notice your pup sneezing, shaking its head, scratching its ears a lot, excessively licking, specifically on paws and in between toes, you may want to swing by the vet clinic. Look for any redness, swelling, or drainage. You can remove cheatgrass yourself if it hasn’t gone too deep, but some cases require the barbs to be surgically removed.

Certain dog breeds are more susceptible to cheat than others. Long hair can hide cheat very easily, make sure your pup is free of dreadlocks to avoid cheat burrowing into them. Curly hair seems to just suck up cheat, doodles are an excellent target. Wire hair is thick and hides cheat well.

 

Fur Coat Being Bogged Down by Snowballs?

Winter finally arrived in Central Oregon and there are a lot of Pups that are new to the snow and are unsure of how to react to it!

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Yes, snow is fun. Most of us turn into little puppies when winter hits. But what happens when our fluffy side kick pops out of the frozen ground and is covered in tiny snowballs? You can pick them out with your fingers, but after a couple minutes of this activity your fingers go numb and your efforts are fruitless. If you ignore them until later they can twist further into the fur and cause painful dreadlocks.

How can you eliminate these snowballs? And more importantly how can you prevent them from ever appearing in your dog’s fluff? Here on a few tips I know of…

Snowballs can be avoided by:

  • Trimming your Pup’s fluff– trimming down their toe hair so they are more tame or even bare knuckled is an easy way to avoid snow clumps. This of course causes your Pup’s toes to be more exposed to the cold, so be careful on certain breeds and on those that rarely spend time in the cold. Some dog coats are not meant to be shaved so make sure you speak to a professional first!
  • Boots are another great way to keep paws safe from frost. I have yet to meet a dog that enjoys wearing shoes, but if you can get your Pup to use them it’s an awesome way to keep their paws and paw pads protected! I have found the best way to get my Pup excited about stuff is to wrap it like a gift! I wrapped up his boots and got very excited about them, using my best Minnie Mouse voice. I let him open them and sniff them and then gave him treats while I put on his new boots. He walked around like a baby deer stuck in tar, but then I took him outside and we played a game of soccer and he was forced to adjust to them! It’s still difficult to convince him to wear them on hikes, but treats and reassurance help him to forget about them! Ruffwear makes a lot of different kinds, so you can find the best fit for your Pup!
  • The best kept secret to avoid snow balls is… Musher’s Secret! It’s a protective wax you apply to your Pup’s pads and fur and it helps prevent snow and ice from attaching to them! You can find it at your local pet store, or on the World Wide Web!

You can remove snowballs by:

  • Brushing them out! I find slicker brushes are the best to use on snowballs. Make sure to get to the skin, as some snowballs can twist themselves up into the fur.
  • Rinsing in warm water! Make sure the water isn’t too warm, but warm enough to melt the snow. You should still brush the fur after rinsing, just in case some stubborn snow is hiding.

If you have any tips on how to remove snow and protect those precious potatoes, or know of any good dog boots let me know!

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The Adventure Pup Experience

Lately people have been asking me what I do for work, and when I say “I run a hiking service for dogs” I get the same reaction, “Oh fun! What a great thing!” And yes, they’re correct to say that, it is amazing and I love doing it, but after some more conversation I come to realize a lot of people see me as either a boarding facility, jam packed with dogs (they’re only half listening to what I’m saying), or that 9 year old neighbor you have that always wants to be around your dog and will always jump at the opportunity to watch them when you leave town (yes I was that 9 year old some time ago), but my job is so much more than that, so I thought I would explain what makes Adventure Pup a different experience.

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  • I truly love your dog (or cat, or iguana, or fish, or rat) as much as I did when I was a kid hopping your fence to lay in your yard with them. I know your pup’s hobbies and pet peeves, I can pick them out of a line-up of dogs that other people would assume are clones, and I will remember them until I am old and senile. They will get excited when they run into me in public, and you might not even recognize me. I will have photos of them forever on my computer, and sometimes (currently) pinned to my wall above my desk, to brighten my day when I need it. I will constantly talk about them to my human friends.
  • On that note, I have more dog friends than human friends. I just prefer the company of non-human animals. It makes me a little awkward to talk to, but also great with your pups.
  • I see dogs as individuals. I don’t do the same activity for every dog. I know who likes doing what and I know what activities to avoid with certain dogs. Everyone is different and unique, and I set up my day to day with that in mind.
  • Packs are kept small and intimate, not only so I am able to physically control everyone on leash at once, but also so that all dogs enjoy the outing. Small packs help keep the excitement level down, which results in less anxiety and a more connected pack. Pups are also matched based on energy level and individual personalities so every member of the pack enjoys their Adventure.
  • Every outing involves both physical and mental stimulation. Pups are given gentle guidance and work on basic commands while out on Adventures, nose work is done with dogs that do better with a job, and tTouch is done with all Adventure Pups to help create a stronger bond, alleviate stiff joints, or release some anxious energy. After a dog has been with me for a length of time I have to use very little voice control and most pups will follow my energy. May sound a bit flower-power to some, but it works for me.
  • Different techniques are used for different dogs to help them grow and learn at their own pace. I use a variety of training techniques and exercises (basically anything except old school/negative reinforcement training) and I am always continuing my education by attending different animal classes and holding side jobs in various animal industries (retail, nutrition, medical, daycare, training, shelters, etc.)
  • I follow dog rules: off-leash in certain areas and not in others, picking up poop and taking them with me, only allowing dog/people friendly dogs off leash, bringing no more than 3 dogs to a dog park. I’m a pretty big square and love a good set of rules.
  • I am prepared for each outing with a car stocked with dog necessities & emergency kits and also carry a pouch with me on every hike carrying smaller versions of necessities & emergency kits (I made a post about that a little while back if you’re curious). I also prepare myself by knowing where I am going ahead of time and familiarizing myself with the trail before bringing Adventure Pups along (my dog Link is a huge help in these tests).

If you have a dog walker or pet sitter they should posses these qualities. I form very deep bonds with animals, even if I know them briefly, but I have worked with some people who do not actually care for the animal they’re watching & out of all the “animal people” I know there are only a select few I would trust with my own dog.

Bend Dog Parks

Bend Oregon definitely prides itself as a dog town. Most breweries and eateries offer outdoor seating where you can sit with your dog. There are some great locally owned pet shops that carry quality merchandise for your furry best friend. And out of the 81 human parks, there are 8 off-leash dog areas. In all honesty, eight off leash dog parks is not a lot. Most other towns I have lived in or visited have well over ten parks where your pup can run wild and free. However, the quality of these 8 dog parks greatly surpasses those I have been to elsewhere. Wide-open spaces, usually fenced-in, in safe neighborhoods, and maintained by the wonderful people at PAC and Bend Parks n Rec. Below you will see a list (in no particular order) of the off-leash areas in Bend, with some notes as to what to expect when visiting them.

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  • Big Sky– 5 acres, both fenced and unfenced, broken up into several sections. When you first enter the off-leash area from the main gate, you will be in a High Desert trail environment. Walking through the second gate will bring you into some more desert trails, and a nice big grassy field with some picnic tables, a water spigot, and plenty of room for some Chuck-It. Through yet another gate you will find the unfenced area where you can walk the trails and reach the pond and canal. This area requires a leash. Dogs are not allowed to swim in the pond or canals, though that does not stop many pups or their people from doing so. If you continue along the canal you’ll reach a large empty stretch of land, again on leash please. (UPDATE: this area after the pond is now private property, but all the “No Swimming” signs have been removed!) This park is not often very busy, but it is surrounded by a lot of human activities (soccer, lacrosse, biking). If you go during the hours of 8am & 10am you might run into a very large dog group, so if your dog is easily overwhelmed you might want to wait until the afternoon.
  • Bob Wenger at Pine Nursery– 18.8 fenced acres, including a small dog area (which I have never been in). This park is nice and spread out, allowing you to walk a variety of paths and giving your pup different sights and smells. Most of the park is High Desert walking trails, with benches along the way, one of which features an amazing view of the mountains to the West. The trails open up to a very large grassy field, with partially open fencing along the perimeter to help you keep an eye on your pup. There are some picnic tables and a couple water spigots throughout the park, as well as poop bag stations and trashcans. This park has several entries/exits which allow you to access the greater paved trail that goes around the entirety of Pine Nursery. Your dog must be on leash whenever outside of the off-leash dog area. The visitors of this park vary, including the regulars that attend almost religiously, and the tourists who just Googled “dog park” and voila! Most people in this park are great, but this is the park I have experienced the most issues at. Humans on cellphones not paying attention to their dogs, dog walkers dropping their pack off and letting them have free rein, and nonlocals who bring their not-so-friendly pooches along just to get some energy out.  I have also run into quite a few dog-free bicyclists in this park. *Note- the dog park shares a parking lot with the pickleball courts, which can get very busy*
  • Discovery– 1.6 acres fenced. I’m going to be blunt, I never come here. It was originally created by West Bend Property Company, and was recently taken over by Bend Parks n Rec. It’s Snoozeville to me and my pack. I would probably go more often if I had an elderly Havanese that enjoyed strolling at a snail’s pace. The human park is very nice and peaceful, but the dog park is lacking. The good news is, it is very rarely busy, and it’s a new park so there is a lot of opportunity for growth and improvements.
  • Ponderosa– 2.9 fenced acres with a separate small dog area. This is my most frequented park, mostly because it’s in my ‘hood. It’s a much smaller scale Pine Nursery, with desert-like walking trails that lead into a small opening where you can play ball. Rather than having a nice grassy clearing for ball play, the entire park is dirt, except for the small dog area. The small dog area is all grass, with some small trees and benches. It has a chain link fence separating it from the big dog area. A lot of the little dogs love to run up and down this fence line barking at humans and dogs on the other side, and a lot of the owners do not correct this behavior, so if you have a dog that loves fence fighting this may not be the park for you. Most of the park is shade, which is great on hot days, but makes things very chilly on cold days. There is a water spigot, and it is surrounded by a human park, complete with two skateparks, a soccer field, a playground, and some paved walking paths. This park is mostly used by those who live in the neighborhood, but you also see some out-of-towners. A lot of cellphone use at this park, and a lot of people sitting at benches while their dog is on the opposite side of the park. Also, for some reason, a lot of people bring human food to this park and eat it at the picnic table in the middle of the dog play area.
  • Riverbend– 1.1 acres fenced with small dog area and dog access to the river. Bleh. I apologize if it sounds like I’m talking smack, but if you live in Bend and have taken your dog to this park, you probably share my view. It’s an afterthought. It’s at the end of the lush, grassy Riverbend Park, tucked away at the other end of a rocky parking lot. The terrain is all tiny rocks, which makes poop scooping a game, cracking toenails and paw pads a cinch, and the rocks become scorching hot on sunny days and icy and treacherous in cold months. There are a couple benches, but absolutely no shade. And no drinkable water, unless you count the river, which isn’t technically drinkable. The small dog area is not worth the visit. The river access is reached by leaving the dog park and entering another gate across the path. Access is only granted to those that love launching into water from the rocks above. Imagine if you’re friends told you they were taking you swimming, and then you arrived only to realize you had to jump from a rock cliff into the water below. This is where all tourists bring their dogs. Close to Old Mill, hotels, and a very popular human park, it offers quite a bit of convenience to those who are visiting. I have come across more unattended dogs at this park than any other (unattended meaning they are left alone in the fenced park without their human) I do not know where the human goes, but my guess is for a nice relaxing float in the Deschutes. I realize I have nothing positive to say about this park except that it is connected to the River Trail, which is a fantastic LEASH walk.
  • Awbrey Reservoir– 5 acres, slightly fenced. Yes, slightly fenced. The park is surrounded by some wooden post fencing, but it is not closed in by any means. Please be aware that the parking lot is attached to a semi busy road, and the park runs along 12th, which people love driving super fast on. This park is connected to Hillside Park, and yes it is on a hillside. It is sprinkled with unpaved walking trails that allow you to wander the hill and lead you to a great view of town. There are a couple picnic benches, where I have actually seen families having sit down dinners. There is no water spigot in the park, but there is a drinking fountain in the parking lot equipped with a lower fountain for dogs (dog bowl is not included). This park is mostly inhabited by neighborhood locals, and most of the park’s visitors do weekly cleanups of poops and trash. It’s not really a place to play ball, but it is nice for a relaxing sunrise/sunset stroll.
  • Overturf– 4.6 fenced acres. This park is perched up above a children’s playground and surrounded by newer homes. It has a forest feel, with tall trees covering most of the sky, and dirt trails throughout. The hill gives dogs a good workout, and just outside the dog park you’ll find Skyliner Summit Loop, where you can enjoy a peaceful walk after your pup gets to play with some pals. The park is never crowded, and most guests are neighborhood locals. There is no water spigot or drinking fountain, and people have been kind enough to bring water jugs. If you remember, bring a gallon of H20 along on your next trip to Overturf.
  • Hollinshead– 3.7 acres unfenced. This park is good for more mellow dogs who like to lay in the grass, stroll and take in the sniffs, and possibly play some light ball. The area is surrounded by a much larger human park, and it’s difficult to tell where the off-leash area begins and ends (especially for dogs who can’t read) so you have to be aware of the off-leash posts and make sure your dog stays where he is supposed to so you don’t get accosted by the nondog people. Right next to the dog park is a barn, where a lot of Bendites get married, so please make sure your pup isn’t off eating wedding cake or running away with a bride. This park also has some great LEASH walking trails around it.

Hopefully these tidbits prove helpful, and hopefully we can continue to improve these parks and open others up to off-leash play! Please do your part and pick up poops and trash while visiting Bend’s glorious parks!

The Off-Leash Epidemic

Oh Bend, the most amazing Dog Town this side of the Mississippi. How I love your glorious dog parks, your extensive hiking trails, and all your refreshing swimming holes. And apparently, so does everyone else and their mother… and their dog!

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If you live in Bend (or anywhere else where dogs and humans coexist) you’ll run into the issue of dogs freely roaming the outdoors, not a care in the world and not a leash in site. You’ll be walking along a peaceful trail, listening to the birds and the distant river, looking up at the tall pines, keeping your best friend close-by and safe with a six foot nylon leash. Suddenly you look at the trail ahead and you see an adorable little Aussie, just standing about ten feet in front of you, still as a statue, and you begin your internal dialogue, “Is this dog with a human? Should I turn the other way? Or head off trail? Is it going to approach?” Meanwhile, that best friend you keep next to you on lead is beginning to whine and tug and stress. Suddenly another human appears, and casually yells to you, “Oh it’s ok he’s friendly!” And you uncomfortably chuckle, “Ok great, mine is not!”

This is a daily occurrence. Bend is a pretty dog friendly town, and people seem to take that and run with it… off leash. There are numerous off leash dog parks and trails in town, but the majority of hiking, walking, & biking paths are leashed areas. This means your dog MUST be on leash… not if they’re cool they can hang… they MUST BE ON LEASH. This is not because the city loves power and wants to control your rights, this is for the safety of you, your dog, and everyone around you. I know, other people, what a weird concept, but a lot of people do not like dogs. A lot of dogs do not like dogs. Allowing your dog to run off leash is much easier for you and much more enjoyable for your pup, but some dogs become incredibly anxious when approached by an off-leash dog, and your dog could get hurt if it sniffs the wrong dog. Or even worse a human could get hurt.

When you are in off-leash areas, please make sure your pup is well behaved. Dogs are technically only to be off leash when they have excellent recall and are under your control. There have been instances where well trained dogs have wandered from their owners, bothering a non-dog loving human, and let me tell you, people who do not have dogs love telling you that your dog is terrible, and they love reporting you for going against the rules.

Here’s a true story from the Sydney Morning Herald: Neil McMahon had brought his dog to an off-leash dog beach. He allowed the dog to wander and enjoy itself. The dog approached a baby laying on a blanket in the sand and decided to give that baby a lick on the face. (don’t ask me what a baby was doing laying in the sand of a dog beach) The child’s mother accused the dog of attacking the baby and called the police. Neil was fined $238 because the dog was not under his control.

“‘Effective control’ is defined as follows. It means your dog will return to you upon command (fair enough, though I don’t know a dog owner who has a 100 per cent success rate on that front). It means that you “retain a clear and unobstructed view of the dog” in the off-leash area at all times (fair enough, and usually not a problem unless the whirling dervish of romping dogs gets too big or they head off into the shrubbery in pursuit of a tennis ball). But here’s the kicker that got me in trouble: ‘effective control’ means your dog ‘does not bother, attack, worry or interfere with other people or animals’.” -Neil

So if you aren’t worried about other dogs or people, at least worry about your bank account. Or being an adult and being scolded by a police officer or park ranger, cuz that would be embarrassing.

Be courteous and cautious. Be mindful of your dog and others. Be a standup, law abiding citizen. If you need help finding an off-leash area or need to become better acquainted with your areas leash laws, Google is great at looking things up! If you live in Bend the Dog PAC is an excellent resource for dog parks, summer and winter trails, and upcoming dog events! Dogster Magazine and Zuke’s have some great tips on Adventuring with your pup off leash!

*this has been on my mind lately because of how many people have been complaining of off-leash dogs in an area they thought safe to bring their dog-reactive-dog for a walk*