Dog (park) days

Did somebody say “dog park”?

Did somebody say “dog park”?

Sometimes I feel like my dog, Appa, is more social than I am. In fact, he’s so well-socialized and kind to humans that, every time he meets one of my friends or acquaintances, they tend to like him more than they like me.

Being such a social butterfly, Appa’s occasionally given the chance to partake in his favorite activity: playing with other dogs. This requires two things. One is a dog park, since it’s illegal to let dogs off leash just about everywhere else in Sacramento. Second, Appa needs to find a dog about the same size (15 pounds), age (teenager in dog years) and status (happy and energetic) to play with.

This is no easy task, especially in Sacramento. We’ve been to nearly all the dog parks in the area. Even the newest one at Hagan Community Park, which happens to be the one closest to our house, rarely has dogs.

To ensure that Appa has copious doggy friends to play with and space to play in, we’ve been taking short road trips to larger parks in the Bay Area. The two I’ve been to are clean and surrounded by beautiful scenery, which makes them naturally good hiking areas. Besides, the Bay Area has much more comfortable summer weather.

For a while, our favorite Bay Area megapark was the Point Isabel Regional Shoreline in Richmond. Appa and I would hike along the coast with views of the bay, a bird habitat restoration area and the Golden Gate Bridge, inside the “largest public off-leash dog park in the nation.”

Last Saturday, we ventured even further into the Bay Area to Fort Funston. Another large park, it has even more breathtaking views, 200-foot sand dunes, beach access and deserted World War II bunkers. Topping that all off, there is a steady ocean breeze, making it one of the premier hang-gliding spots in the nation.

Trekking down to the beach from the cliff-top parking lot, Appa immediately started introducing himself to friendly medium-sized dogs like pugs, chihuahuas and Shih Tzus. They too had ventured to the coastal state park where they were allowed to play and hike off leash. The multibreed pack of dogs chased each other around the hiking trails, until it was time to head down a large dune onto the beach area, a small stretch between the water and the cliff.

That’s when Appa played his most beloved game, fetch, and we hiked north as far as we could, until the beach ended and the water came all the way up to the cliff beside us. We turned around and hiked as far south as we could, until it was too windy and cold to continue. Appa played with a shiba inu puppy before hiking up hundreds of wooden stairs back to the parking lot and promptly passing out in the car. Say goodbye to the dog days of summer.