Although we live in the Bay area, we rarely go into the city, either the big one in the north or the slightly smaller one south. The issue is simple and can be summarized in two words. Traffic and Parking. The husband hates dealing with the famed hilly roads in the big city and the idea of parallel parking there terrorizes me and doesn’t make the husband too happy. There aren’t hilly roads in the city south but parking isn’t all that easy to find either. Suffice to say, we greatly prefer to spend our weekends elsewhere.
This particular weekend however, we had to run errands that bring us into not one, but two cities. Both errands will take us less than 15 minutes, but the drive into the city requires a minimum of 45 minutes. In the spirit of maximizing drive time value, I decided to make a day out of each errand and looked up places nearby that we can bring the doggies to. I found off leash hiking places we can bring the dogs to at both places, this not only turns a dull errand drive into a fun doggie excursion, but also exposes the doggies to new experiences outside of the usual hiking spots we visit.
So on Saturday, we drove to San Francisco and we visited Bernal Heights Park, an off leash park with fantastic views of the city.
To be honest, it was raining cats and dogs on Saturday when we left our home. I was thinking it might be way too wet to go hiking and I was tempted to just put off the whole thing. But we had limited time to run the errand and the weather forecast said it’ll clear up in the afternoon. Luckily, the skies cleared up just when we reached the park and the grounds weren’t soggy at all. The views were gorgeous.
Bernal Heights is clearly a haven for dogs. There were a ton of dogs there enjoying the sun after days of rainy weather.
QQ found someone to chase him almost immediately after we arrived. We spent about 2 hours at the park and both dogs had so much fun. The park was big enough for the dogs to really stretch their legs, and there are benches high up where the humans can relax, take in the view, and still keep an eye on their dogs.
We practiced recall and sit-stays with the dogs in between allowing them to run and chase other dogs. Chyler doesn’t exactly get the hang of recall. She stays close to either the husband or me, but when one of us calls her when she’s with the other one, she doesn’t go straight to the caller like QQ does. However, she does follow QQ. So if the husband goes to the other end of the hill (the furthest end of the trail in the photo above) and call Chyler, she sits next to me on the bench and doesn’t move. However, if he calls QQ, QQ runs straight to him (Yep, I’m so very proud of QQ’s recall, the result of tons of practice since he was 8 weeks old), Chyler will take a moment, then run after QQ. QQ actually stops and wait for her a few times along the way, and they both run into my husband’s arms. It’s too sweet to see.
On Sunday, we went to San Jose and visited Santa Teresa County Park. This is a park near a golf course. It was the only hiking option near the place we had to go for our errand so we didn’t have a lot of choices. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if the dogs were allowed off leash here, but we did see other people allowing their dogs off leash and there weren’t any roads where the dogs can run into cars, so we decided to let them off.
We did sometimes pick QQ up or put him on leash when we see people or cyclist on-coming, as he tends to run around and his form of greeting sometimes only consist of barking. Chyler is entirely reliable. She sticks close to our heels and doesn’t make a squeak so she enjoys full off leash privileges. This actually caused one person to stop and ask why we were being unfair to the dogs – why does one get to go off leash and the other not. Which is kind of funny because QQ barked in his face almost immediately after he asked his question. So my answer was, “That’s why.”
We met a nice lady who was enamored with our doggies almost immediately after we started our hike. She walked with us half of the way and commented on how Chyler is so bonded with us and how perfect she is off leash, always walking two steps behind us, she couldn’t believe we’ve only had her for 3 weeks now. I spent half the time talking to her, so I didn’t take many photographs. But the hike was quite pretty, we had views of the surrounding mountains and fall foliage.
Sadly, it is unlikely we will return to this particular park. The reason is because it is filled with ticks! We found a ton of ticks on QQ after we left the park, and I was so angry with myself. QQ isn’t on any tick preventive currently because the places we visit regularly don’t have ticks. QQ loves to explore so he ran off trail multiple times to sniff the shrubbery. That must be where the ticks got on to him, because Chyler did not have a single one on her and she kept close to us on trail the whole time. We allow QQ to run off trail, because he has good recall and always comes back to us, and I did not know there were ticks in the park. We spent 30 minutes in the parking lot picking out all the ticks on him. I thank my lucky stars he has white fur and the black ticks are easy to spot. When we got home, we gave him a thorough brush and applied a tick preventive Advantix on him as well as a commercial natural Flea and Tick Repellent Spray AND my own concoction of essential oils based repellent spray. Suffice to say he is now tick free and smells like a walking room freshener. Poor boy is very sad. He doesn’t like smelling good. We used to same combo of homemade and natural repellent spray on Chyler just to be safe. I don’t know if it’s because she’s a girl and doesn’t mind perfume, but she didn’t show any signs of being upset from being dosed with essential oils.
Ticks-scare aside, we did enjoy our hike and afterwards, we visited two nearby dog parks, which for some reason were mostly filled with big dogs. I was a little afraid of how little Chyler might be, faced with a husky, two golden retrievers, a german shepherd, an aussie and a couple unknown mixes of equivalent size. However, the little girl held her own. She snapped at them when they got too close for her comfort and they quickly learnt to keep their distance. Another owner commented, she might be small, but she can easily be the boss of them all. I was so proud. QQ had no issue and ran around with the dogs having the time of his life.
Overall, it was a fun weekend in the cities. It was a little tiring, but the doggies had a great time and that’s all that matters!
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