Off the leash! Life's a beach for lucky dogs free to run on sand

Life's a beach for lucky dogs free to run on sand




Dog's Eye View

For a local perspective on the dog beach in San Diego, check out the blog "Dog's Eye View," written by Barb Ayers. You can also see Barb's dog enjoys surfing. You can even see video if you scroll to the end of this story.

Local angle

The next time your dog begs to go for a walk, think about these Clark County off-leash dog parks:

• Ross Off-Leash Dog Recreation Area: Northeast Ross Street and 15th Avenue, Vancouver. Open 7 a.m. to dusk. Fenced with double-gated entries, eight acres of open field, hilly terrain, a trail, benches and a one-third acre small-dog area.

• Dakota Memorial Dog Park at Pacific Community Park: Northeast 18th Street and 164th Avenue, Vancouver. Open 7 a.m. to dusk. Fully fenced with double-gated entries, eight acres with open forested areas, a trail, an one-eighth acre small-dog area, an agility area, benches, a dog drinking fountain and rinse-off area.

• Kane Memorial Dog Park within Hockinson Meadows Community Park: Northeast 172nd Avenue and 119th Street, Brush Prairie. Open 7 a.m. to dusk. Two acres of open terrain with forested areas, fenced with double-gated entries, a trail and a dog drinking fountain.

• Lucky Memorial Dog Park: Northeast 149th Street and 101st Place, Brush Prairie. Open 7 a.m. to dusk. The 7½ acres of open fields are fenced with double-gated entries, one-acre small-dog area, trail and dog water spigot.

• Stevenson Off-Leash Area: Addy and 32nd streets, Washougal. Open dawn to dusk. The small-dog area is reserved for the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society 10 a.m. to noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Seven acres of flat terrain, fully fenced with double-gated entries, benches, agility logs, a trail, one-acre small-dog area and a dog drinking fountain.


photoKing, a 9-year-old golden retriever, surfs in the Incredible Dog Challenge competition in San Diego. Of about 95,000 miles of U.S. shoreline, among the most treasured by dog lovers are those where you can unleash the beast.


When Craig Haverstick approaches the beach with his dog in tow, Stanley knows he's in for a treat. His ears perk up and he starts sniffing the salty air.

"Chesapeake Bay retrievers are like plants; they need to be watered every now and then," Haverstick said of the 9-year-old he's been taking to the beach in San Diego weekly for eight years. "We have some great dog beaches. Dogs and people both drool over them."

Dog beaches account for a tiny fraction of the thousands of miles of U.S. shoreline, but they are treasured by pet owners and their pooches.

"Off-leash dog beaches are a canine's dream come true," said Lisa Porter, owner of Pet Hotels of America, a travel website that lists thousands of beaches and parks where dogs are allowed on leash or can run free.

Every beach has its own draw. San Diego offers three off-leash options: Fiesta Island in Mission Bay is great for swimming; Ocean Beach Dog Beach is good for dogs to play together; and Coronado's Dog Beach is described as magical.

Beaches where unleashed dogs are allowed complete freedom are typically fenced, and offer drinking water and showers for dogs, bags to pick up dog feces, and trash cans.

Dog lovers say the biggest problem is that there aren't enough beaches for their pets and parking is often scarce.

Efforts to create more pooch-friendly beaches have run into resistance.

Critics say letting beaches go to the dogs threatens species such as shore birds, jeopardizes the safety of visitors, ruins the experience for beachgoers and can pollute water and sand with poop and urine.

Fans who frequent the beaches say they provide a great playground for their hounds and can even be therapeutic.

When Carol Kearney first adopted Buddy, an abused 70-pound, 2-year-old Staffordshire terrier mix, he was afraid of noises and terrified of water.

"When he heard traffic, it was like he was trying to get out of his skin," Kearney said.

Letting him run on the beach less than a mile from her 14th-floor home in a Coronado high-rise was the only way to calm him down.

Now he digs in the sand, chases his dog pals or swims through the waves to retrieve float toys.

Other top West Coast off-leash dog beaches recommended by Porter include Cannon Beach in Oregon and Double Bluff Beach on Whidbey Island.

East Coast recommendations are Duck Beach in Outer Banks, N.C.; Bonita Beach Dog Park in Bonita Springs, Fla.; and Paw Park in South Brohard Beach, Fla.

Some beaches, such as Fisherman's Cove Conservation Area in Manasquan, N.J., require a leash. That law wasn't enforced until after Superstorm Sandy did a lot of damage, said Monmouth County Parks Manager Drew d'Apolito.

Similarly, Live Oak Beach in California was known as a "don't ask, don't tell" beach until recently, said Ingrid Wander, who let Asia, her chocolate Labrador retriever, run free.

Wander got a $160 ticket in January.

She still takes Asia there at low tide. Wander walks, collects shells, takes photos of sea life and watches out for the law as Asia fetches balls in the water.

What does the well-dressed pup wear at the beach?

LOS ANGELES — Clothing is optional for pooches at dog-friendly beaches and pools around the country.

And more and more designers are cashing in on those options.

Tommy Bahama Pets will be in PetSmart Inc. stores through August. There’s a designer shirt and a dress with a ruffled skirt made with Bahama’s traditional hibiscus fabric.

The clothes and toys range in price from $4.99 to $19.99, with 5 percent of the purchase price of each limited edition item going to PetSmart Charities.

PetSmart also has life jackets by Martha Stewart Inc. for dogs that feel like surfing or boating.

Designer John Bartlett in New York is offering a hoodie (with his signature three-legged dog icon) and a beach tank for dogs, plus leashes and collars at

Shelly Coby, owner of in Albuquerque, N.M., said beach favorites include bikinis, swimming trunks, Hawaiian shirts, hats, bandannas and wet suits. Coby, whose pug Ralph loves to sunbathe, said it’s hard to find clothes for dogs over 75 pounds, but “they can wear human shirts.”

Besides optional clothing, dog owners recommend sunscreen for your pet; footwear if the sand is really hot; fresh water; treats; food; a towel; a beach umbrella so you can both get out of the sun; a hat, visor, sunglasses or Doggles (goggles for dogs); a ball or toy, especially a floating toy if the dog will be allowed in the water.

Dogs, even at the beach, should always wear their collars with their identification.

— Sue Manning