Gone to the Dog Beach
I imagine if there was a doggy heaven it would look like Dog Beach – a place where canines of all sizes, all breeds, all colors, male and female, played together under a bright blue sky with canvas-colored sand absorbing their paws. With nary a nip or growl, these spirited beasts consume a small section of Ocean Beach, San Diego, California, and create one of the most awesomest places for dogs I have ever experienced.
Dogs everywhere chase each other, splash for tennis balls in the gentle waves and pee on random piles of seaweed whenever they feel like it. Owners happily pick up poop and wing Chuck-Its for the simple opportunity to be there; to have their dogs on a leash-free beach. They love the company of other dogs and their owners; readily tossing a Frisbee for the nearby Akita or rubbing an Aussie’s wiggling bum. Dog haters would be insane to visit this place so the vibes are nearly all positive except when the occasional butthead owner brings his aggressive dog out in public. The day I was there I witnessed only one scuffle that ended without bloodshed.
The stretch near Seaworld was officially adopted by the Ocean Beach Town Council in 1972 to protect it as a community asset for the future. On any given day, dogs run freely along the ocean sandbars while surfers, Boogie boarders and children go deeper.
Did I mention Dog Beach is free?
Free parking, free entry, free poopbags and freedom from tethers if your dog can handle it. What’s not to love? Dog Beach gets crowded on the weekends and in the heat of the summer but everyone seems to get along. Watch where you step in case the poop isn’t scooped fast enough and leave your food in the car as there will be thieves among us but, for the most part, this energetic, fun-loving microcosm should be an example to all humankind. Stop the f*&king fighting.
You won’t need to worry about keeping your dog close if he’s well-haved. There’s really no where for him to go and he’ll want to hang with all of his brethren anyway. The south side shore leads off to a marina. Beyond are showers (not supposed to be for dogs but no one said boo when we washed the sand off Takoda), a pier and restaurants (dogs must be on leash). Occasionally an ice cream truck or a pet-food company with samples drops by Dog Beach with treats. If I had a food truck I would park it there every summer afternoon selling Pupsicles. Just saying…
You don’t have to worry if your dog isn’t a strong swimmer because the water is shallow. It’s part of a cove created by the jetties to the south and north of the beach at South Mission State Beach. Prop up your beach chair and watch the boats and surfers while Fido frolics. Plus, there’s a life guard on duty, who will quickly tell you if the water’s not safe for your dog or child. If you go around the northern jetty where the river runs out, the water is calmer and crowd a bit thinner (but not by much).
I was apprehensive when I first arrived with Takoda. All those dogs! We hate dog parks because they’re like cock-fighting rings. Dog Beach isn’t that. These dogs have enough toys, balls, waves and buttsniffing to keep them out of trouble. He joined the foray in an instant; like a kid being dropped off at camp, he looked once at me then trotted into the water to chase four other dogs. He had found his heaven on earth.