Dogs and the beach a wonderful combo
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By Mickey Zeldes  November 9, 2012 12:00 am

My husband and I just returned from a week’s vacation. We rented a condo on the beach in Hilton Head Island, S.C., with some friends. It was great – we timed it right and missed the hurricane; in fact, the weather was quite nice. The only thing to have made it more perfect is if our dogs had been with us.

There is something about a beach just begging for a dog to run into the waves. They are so “in the moment” with their play, they are a joy to watch.

The water can be cold, the waves crashing, and there will be a look of absolute delight on a dog’s face as they chase a ball into the water. What’s more fun to watch than a dog playing in the water? Two dogs playing in the water! But because we didn’t have our dogs with us, we had to make do with petting the dogs we saw along the way.

That trip inspired me to take my new dog, Brandy, a Golden Retriever (hence a water dog), to the beach. In fact, that is where I am at this moment as I write this story. Sitting at a picnic table with the fog coming in at Dillon Beach.

It’s Brandy’s first time (with me) to the beach, so I wasn’t really sure how far he would go in to the water or if he would prefer to just dig in the sand. What I discovered is he loves to chase anything moving – it could be a tennis ball someone else has thrown for his dog or it could be a running dog.

He doesn’t necessarily want to interact with the dog – just chase the movement. And he’s not afraid of the waves, although he didn’t go out far enough to actually swim - thank goodness. I worry about the undertow and would have freaked out if he went too deep (protective mom that I am).

You would think with the number of retriever’s in the North Bay and the fact we have both the ocean and the bay, there would be dozens of beaches to take a dog to, but that is not the case. You really have to know where the dog-friendly beaches are hidden. So far, I’ve only discovered a couple – Dillon being the closest (and it took me about an hour to drive there). Another favorite is Pt. Isabelle’s in the East Bay.

It’s an actual dog park with miles of path that follows the curves of the bay. Brave dogs can, and often do, go into the bay, but again, there is a current that makes me nervous.

The best part of Pt. Isabelle’s is the “Sit and Stay” Café – an outdoor patio area where you can purchase a latte and something to eat off their fairly extensive menu – and your pets are welcome too.

The other beach that we discovered a while ago (BB – before Brandy) is Fort Funston in San Francisco. You can walk around the headlands and watch the hang gliders go off the cliffs, or go down and walk the beach.

However, if you really want your dog to swim, you need to find a lake. I haven’t found one yet that allows dogs off leash. Do you know of one?

Upcoming Events:
Animal Talk – adult education workshops offered once a month on a variety of topics.
Next one is Cat Handling with Laura Hazard. Learn more about how to deal with behavior issues such as biting, litter box mishaps, how to trim nails and more. Wed, Nov. 14, 6:30-8 p.m. Registration is $10; stop by the RP Animal Shelter to sign up. For a full schedule, go to

Meet the Bunny - second Saturday of each month (next one is Nov. 10), 1-5:30 p.m. at the shelter. Meet our adorable and adoptable rabbits, have your care questions answered by our knowledgeable volunteers, bring your bunny for a free nail trim and shop our Bunny Boutique for fresh hay, fun toys and fabulous deals on supplies.

Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at

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