Don't ruin the fun for everyone. Bring plastic bags for picking up after
your dog, and don't leave any nasty souvenirs behind.
Respect others. Keep your dog from running over people you encounter on
your adventures. Says Christian Lau, co-author of The Dog Lover's Companion
to New England: "Some owners seem to forget common courtesy, but
you're not in the wilderness." Dog owner Karen
Nash says that dogs allowed off leash should be under voice control
both for their safety and out of respect for passers-by.
Make sure your dog wears identification. According to the American Humane Association, only 15 percent of dogs that enter animal shelters are ever reunited with their owners. Be sure your dog wears an ID with at least your name and phone number.
Get ticks off. "Ticks seem to be a growing problem," says Lau. Check your dog and yourself for ticks when you get back from a hike, and watch for ticks over the next few days. Lau notes that dogs can be vaccinated against Lyme disease.
Bring water. Otherwise, Nash says, your
dog may drink unhealthy salt- or murky water.
Don't typecast your dog. Nash says she's
met pugs who love water and golden retrievers who hate it. Visit places
you'll enjoy, and your dog's enthusiasm will likely match your own.
Outdoor adventures for you and your best friend
by Genevieve Rajewski, The Boston Phoenix
After months of trying to spend as little time as possible outside, the arrival of spring likely has you desperate to linger in the sunlight and fresh air. But, sadly, it's often far easier to wrangle up a friend to join you for manicures or a ballgame on TV than it is to enlist them for a foray into the great outdoors.
If you're a dog owner, however, the perfect companion may be right under your nose or, more likely, whimpering at the door, begging for some excitement. So grab a leash and get going: below are suggestions from area dog owners and walkers who've already sniffed out destinations sure to please you and your pup.
A few notes: all Massachusetts state parks require dogs to be on leashes; assume that the other featured spots do, too, unless otherwise noted. Many of the interviewed dog owners cite The Dog Lover's Companion to New England (Avalon Travel Publishing, 2001) as an invaluable reference. Author Christian Lau, who wrote the book with JoAnna Downey and Beth Rogers, was kind enough to share his favorite spots in Greater Boston, and granted permission to use contact information provided in the book.
Over the river and through the woods
favorite destination for many Boston dog owners is the sprawling Middlesex
Fells Reservation, in Medford and four neighboring towns. "It is
just a 15-minute drive north, but you feel like you're really away from
the city," notes Karen Nash.
"And there is loads for dogs to smell." Nash, whose Doggie
Daytrippers service provides off-leash fieldtrips for latchkey
canines, also recommends Sheepfold, a 10-acre field in the reservation,
as a place that's "good for people whose dogs love being around other
a dog-friendly swimming area, Nash suggests Stoddard's Neck, in Hingham.
The park is on the saltwater Weymouth River and has "poop-bag dispensers"
and dog bowls you can fill with your own fresh water. "In the summer,
it's pretty great," says Nash. "There's a wonderful grassy hill
where you can sit and read a book while your dog plays with other dogs
speaks highly of the Trustees of Reservations, a nonprofit conservation
group that protects areas of unparalleled beauty throughout the state.
The group's World's End Reservation, in Hingham, offers 500 acres overlooking
Hingham Harbor, the Weir River, and Boston Harbor Islands, with carriage
roads, trails, meadows, woods, and seashore.
Trustees of Reservations also offers a park that could well provide the
leash-free romp of your dog's life. Rocky Woods Reservation, in Medfield,
has trails and 500 acres of woods, rocky formations, ponds, waterfalls,
of space to walk and jog and picturesque views of the Merrimack River
are reasons why Nancy Carpenter enjoys taking Daisy, an eight-year-old
golden retriever, to Maudslay State Park, in Newburyport. The former estate
features 19th-century gardens and plantings, meadows, and towering pines.
miles of quiet, wooded paths, Carpenter suggests Harold Parker State Forest,
in North Andover. "I've walked for an hour without seeing another
person," she says. Jennafer Dinn has brought Spanky, a two-year old
Staffordshire-bull-terrier mix, to the park. "It was nice and big
and not too crowded, and there were many ponds and streams for hot pups
to swim in," she says.
Conrad recommends the leash-free Great Brook Park, in Carlisle, which
is her dog's favorite destination because it offers "tons of trails
and a field where you can usually find other dogs for your pooch to play
with." She also takes Oscar, a two-year-old Newfoundland, to Willard
Brook State Forest, in Ashby. "This one is out there a bit, but has
trails that follow along a brook good for periodic dips in hot
weather. Apparently there are ponds where dogs can swim, too."
to Carpenter, "dogs romp with each other, swim, and generally have
a blast" at Salisbury Beach State Reservation, in Salisbury. "In
the off-season, you can stroll up the beach as far as you like,"
off-leash summer splashing after 5 p.m., Nash recommends bringing your
pup to Good Harbor Beach, in Gloucester. "Everybody is friendly.
I've always had a good experience there," she says.
says those without a car can still visit the beach using the MBTA, which
allows dogs during off-peak hours. Revere Beach, the nation's oldest public
beach, and Constitution Beach, in the Orient Heights section of East Boston,
are both accessible by the Blue Line. So is Belle Isle Marsh Reservation,
in East Boston, which offers views of Boston's last remaining saltwater
wetlands and the city's skyline.
Lau's top urban pick for sand, sea, and a beautiful view of the harbor
is Castle Island Recreation Area, in South Boston. "It's a great
walk from Carson Beach to Fort Independence, and not too many people know
about it," he says.
leaders for a pack
Boston lags far behind New York and San Francisco in terms of the leash-free
pick-up joint and canine free-for-all known as the dog park.
However, there are a few spots where dogs and their owners congregate.
trip by T to Fresh Pond Park, in Cambridge, means a two-block walk alongside
a busy road. However, Lau says your dog will be able to play with many
others off leash even though it's not an official dog park.
more than 300 years, people and their animals have gathered on Boston
Common, a tradition that continues for Bostonians and their canine companions.
Between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., you'll see hordes of
dogs burning off energy while their owners watch and chat.
the Esplanade, in Back Bay, you'll find the small but officially leash-free
Charlesgate Dog Run. However, Nash mentions that there tend to be more
homeless people than dog owners here. Far livelier and roomier is the
leash-free Peters Park Dog Run, on the South End/Dorchester border.
of the city, Cara Berthe visits Salem Common with Micah, a three-year-old
German shepherd/husky mix, and Barrett, a 10-year-old husky. "There
are lots of dogs on leashes and cool dog people, especially around 5 or
6 p.m. when everyone gets home from work," she says. "A dirt
trail goes around the entire common. It's the most beautiful area of Salem."
course, enjoying fresh air with your pooch in tow doesn't necessarily
require hiking boots, sand in your shoes, or muddy paws. There are plenty
of ways to involve your dog in more-refined outdoor pursuits.
suggests a visit to the South End, where many restaurants allow dogs at
outside tables, and shops sometimes let them indoors. One restaurant,
Gallia, even offers a Doggie Happy Hour. Every Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m.,
weather permitting, dog owners can enjoy $1 tapas outside while their
dogs munch on free "doggie tapas" created by the nearby Polka
Dog Bakery a worthwhile stop in itself.
the summer, Lau recommends an evening visit to the Frog Pond Jazz Café
on Boston Common. "It has a small seating area, the menu is excellent,
and a lot of times there is a live jazz band," he says. "Your
dog cannot sit next to your table. But you can find a table at the edge
of the seating area and have your dog tied to the railing on the other
you and your pup can burn calories while absorbing some culture. Dinn
notes that the DeCordova Sculpture Park, in Lincoln, allows leashed dogs
to accompany visitors to its constantly changing outdoor exhibition of
large-scale, contemporary American sculpture.
Rajewski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: April 2 - 8, 2004
© Copyright 2004 The Boston Phoenix