Runyon Canyon hiking with a Dog

More big news in Finn’s world, we’re back in Los Angeles. Because of a few things out of Finn’s control it just wasn’t working out so we decided to come back to the land of Sun with a new plan to take advantage of all the things we neglected in the past. That means lots of beach visits, enjoying cool new restaurants, seeing friends, and checking out LA’s mountains for some good hikes. And what better kickoff to these hikes than Runyon Canyon Park, considered by many to be the premiere place to view Los Angeles while still feeling like an escape.

Runyon Canyon is a massive, 134 acre, hiking trail and park located in the Hollywood hills between Hollywood boulevard and Mulholland Drive. Parking is a hassle on the southern side (street parking is available all around the Fuller St. entrance, a small lot sits near the trail head at the Mulholland entrance) and can add a mile to a hike if you go at a busy time. The off-leash area, which is signed but functions essentially as anything inside the main gates, is packed with people from dawn until dusk and there are loads of dogs around. Personally I keep Finn on a leash when we are there simply because he is excitable and I worry that he’ll go scampering off down a slope that is too steep for a chase, or he’ll find some wildlife that I don’t want to save him from. As you can see from the picture below (taken of the west trail from the eastern trail) the path is fine but there is a lot of area in the park that you do NOT want a pet going.
View of Runyon Canyon Off leash dog trail in Los AngelesRunyon Canyon Trail East- UnpavedThat being said, the park is gorgeous. The western side has a paved service road that is almost entirely off leash. The eastern path (above) is an unpaved trail that winds up the side of the hill and provides some great lookouts of L.A. The two do meet up for a total hike that is about 3-4 miles of off leash excitement. More trails at the top of the hill attach the off leash area to the Mullholland entrance (which does have some limited parking).
Lots of water fountains at Runyon Canyon Dog Park
The park caters to dogs and dog owners and there are plenty of water stops at the base of the trails and a few along the way. You do have to bring your own bags though, the park does not provide any and is notorious for being a “toilet” thanks to the off leash nature and some irresponsible pet owners.

Picnic tables at RUnyon Canyon Dog parkThere are some picnic tables and a garden by the Fuller entrance where you can catch your breath after a long hike and along the trail benches and well positioned rocks provide a place to sit (albeit unshaded) to admire the scenery.

Runyon Canyon Trail View of Los AngelesViews from the trail are amazing. On a clear day everything from the Hollywood sign, to downtown, and even Santa Catalina can be seen. It sure is nice to be back.

Finnegan back in Hollywood (the sign can be seen in the distance).

Finnegan back in Hollywood (the sign can be seen in the distance).

Facebook for Dogs: Dogbook

If anyone else out there has a dog on Facebook’s  app exclusively for dogs, look up Finn, he wants some friends. Of course it is not necessary for Finn to have his own Facebook page, but it is another good way to store some pictures and stories about him that we can remember for a long time. He already has a few friends, Lala from the puppy fight is one of them. In case you are not on facebook here is a screen capture of what a dogbook page looks like. Oh and it looks like if you want a dogbook site you’ll have to sign up for facebook, but nothings stopping you from signing the dog up for facebook assuming you have an extra e-mail for them.

This post originally appeared at our blogger site, and since then dogbook has expanded greatly. There are now a lot more pooches on it and there are other applications as well including CatBook, Rodentbook and a host of others.

We’re trying to branch out in the world of social media for the little bear. Pretty soon I think he’ll be signing up for Twitter as well so we can quickly and easily share photos and thoughts.Until then hopefully we’ll get some new friends, and maybe even a wall write or two.

Dog Park in Highlands Ranch

Before the storm clouds rolled in today Denver had some beautiful weather. Nice and cool thanks to the impending rain, Finn and I decided to go check out a new dog park. There are a few right by the house but if I’ve learned one thing from having a dog it’s that not all dog parks are created equal and it’s worth a shot to check some out.

"Aerial" view of the park from the road

"Aerial" view of the park from the road

A few miles south of us is Highlands Ranch which in the past 10 years has expanded a lot putting in thousands of homes and essentially creating a suburb of Denver that didn’t exist 15 years ago. Luckily the folks planning the area were big on keeping the landscape of the area, with lots of bike trails, public parks, and green space. They even managed to find a way to sneak in 4 off leash fenced dog parks.

Rover’s Run at Redstone park was the pick for today. It’s about 2 acres set in the middle of a meadow on the Southeast corner of Town Center Drive and Foothills Canyon Blvd. Parking is easy enough thanks to the Tennis club just across the street.

Playing fetch at the dog park

Playing fetch at the dog park

Finn playing in his pond

Finn playing in his pond

As part of the open space bags are provided along with a watering hole just for the puppies although cleanliness is a concern, while we were there the faucet was situated in the center of a small pond it had created. Even so there was plenty of room to play some fetch, balls were all over the place. Being in the middle of a meadow a little more shade would be nice, the single small tree next to the picnic tables just wouldn’t cut it on a hot day.

The biggest concern though was the FIRE ANTS!! All over the park there were mounds with swarms of ants running around doing whatever it is the devil ants do. I made extra sure to check Finn’s paws upon our exit, along with my own legs. There is a whole chapter about fire ants and seeing so many made me freak a bit, more so than the coyotes that I know are in the area (why the sign for coyotes and no sign for fire ants? I’ve no idea).

Warning Coyotes. Also warning, terrifying fire ants

Warning Coyotes. Also warning, terrifying fire ants

All in all the park is a nice place although the bordering network of walking paths seemed a better place for a dog and those with great recall could likely go off leash without too much hassle. Finn enjoyed himself, but there are other parks in the area we have a better time at.

Dog Hike in Evergreen CO: Elk Meadows State Park

It was an exciting father’s day last weekend, with great weather, so we took our little four legged boy up into the mountains to enjoy some of the great outdoors that Colorado has to offer.

Posing on a rock in the off leash area with our wonderful Golden Retriever

Posing on a rock in the off leash area with our wonderful Golden Retriever

Elk Meadows state park was suggested to us by a friend as a nice park in the mountains, and it delivered. The state park itself is massive with hiking, biking, and riding trails abound but the gem of it all is a massive off leash dog friendly area including 7 acres of fenced dog park perched on the side of a slope.

There is a small parking area on the north side of Stagecoach Blvd that still had parking even on Father’s day (which we’ll assume is a busy day all things considered). North of the road is access to a network of trails where dogs are welcome, on leash. But south of the road is where the action is at. Beautiful meadows and a thick smell of pine await exploring noses. We first let Finn run off some energy in the larger fenced area. It’s a wonderful park complete with forts built of fallen pine wood

Finn walking in the fenced off leash  park

Finn walking in the fenced off leash park

Bring water as there is no faucet in this park

Bring water as there is no faucet in this park

Water was limited so it’s important to remember to bring some, but everything else is there, bags, forts, smells, and fetching sticks galore. Walking the perimeter of the fenced area is a short hike in and of itself but we wanted even more so Finn got to go off leash out of the fenced area. Signs posted let us know that there was some wildlife we should be aware of, thankfully to as the hillside and creek provide such a fantastic view it’s easy to think you are standing in a painting. This was easily one of the best parks we’ve ever gone to and we’ll be returning soon to take on even longer hikes.

Bear pooping in the woods

Bear pooping in the woods

Puppy Exploring the pine wood piles in the park

Puppy Exploring the pine wood piles in the park

Directions from Denver: I-70 West to State route 74 (Evergreen Parkway). Head south to Stagecoach Blvd (you’ll start seeing portions of the park on your right before seeing stagecoach). Turn right on Stagecoach and head approx 1.3 mi till you see the parking lot on the right (and smaller lot of the left side)

Getting Groomed in Littleton

It’s been a while since we had Finnegan groomed. We bathe him ourselves, brush his teeth, and brush him with a deshedding tool but last week as we picked him up from his Doggie Nightclub adventures we really he may be smelly beyond our repair. Add to that the long winter coat Finn managed to grow and it was time we take him for the real thing.

Littleton area dog grooming at A Paw Spa

Littleton area dog grooming at A Paw Spa

Luckily for us only a week or two ago we passed a local shop A Paw Spa. When possible I prefer using smaller businesses especially for things involving Finn. An on site proprietor invested in the well being of the company just tends to beat out the assembly line style of services from the major pet stores. I called up A Paw Spa and got him scheduled. Prices were reasonable, about $55 for a full shampoo, trim, nail clip, ear cleaning and Bandana.

The bandana is a nice touch to really show of the new cut

The bandana is a nice touch to really show of the new cut

When we picked him up we realized his nickname, Finn pants, didn’t fit any longer. He’s “Shorts” now. The nickname pays homage to his white fur backside, a distinct color against the rest of his coat. Of course the fur looks even better now, his tail doesn’t look so unkept, the paws are neatly manicured, and he smells a bit more like lemony than puppy.

If you’ve been to A Paw Spa let us know what you thought in the comments

New Vet: Firehouse Animal Health Center

One of the hassels with moving is getting setup to deal with things. Dog parks, good walks, where to get the right food, where to board (cage free), and most importantly a place to get a check up and a place to go in emergencies. Luckily for us our house is only about a half mile from the Littleton Firehouse Animal Health Center. We drove by it for a month or two, noticing the signs but never going in (thankfully due to good health) until one day a month or so ago that an issue came up.

Firehouse Animal Health Center

Firehouse Animal Health Center

Within a few hours of calling Firehouse I was in there offices. No wait at all. This is huge for us as most of the time these things are immediate and we don’t want to wait even 2 days to get Finn in if he’s in pain or uncomfortable. The staff was fantastic as well from the folks working the front desk, who gave Finn a treat and made him feel comfortable, to the vet techs, who are all extremely knowledgeable, to the Veterinarians, who take the time to answer questions and get to know their patients. Pricing here is in line with what we expected and a few of the services are cheaper than we’ve paid in the past. Unfortunately they do not have a vaccination clinic (an inexpensive way to just get vaccinations) but the checkup is useful and a good time to get Finn looked at, he’s fine by the way.

One of my favorite aspects of Firehouse Animal Health Center is that they are technology forward. A few hours after a visit an email appears with ALL THE NOTES direct from the veterinarian. Now I’ve got a copy of everything they checked him for, all the vaccinations he got, as well as things to look for sitting in my inbox. Further, the Center’s website even has an embedded research journal which contains information on injuries and illnesses of pets.

Finn waited while I filled out paperwork

Finn waited while I filled out paperwork

Firehouse is a chain of Centers in the Denver area but with a little planning it’s easy to ensure you keep seeing the same vet. Overall the franchise setup of the organization helps with their organization and it’s evident that the employees still care about pets. We’re lucky to have found such a great vet, but we can only hope we don’t have to make the visit often.

Doggie Boarding!

One of the most important tasks we have had in our move to Denver has been finding a great Doggie Daycare and boarding facility for Finnegan. Between work and vacations, both Chris and I travel quite a bit.

In Los Angeles, we always took finn to Cage Free Canine.  We quickly fell in love with this place.  Not only was it a rescue foundation ( I have a soft spot in my heart for that!),  but there was not a kennel in sight. All of the dogs played outside all day long, and then retired to a large open indoor room to snuggle with each other for the night.  Our favorite part about it was that there was always a staff member with the dogs 24/7.  Someone even slept in the room with them at night. This provided a huge amount of comfort to Chris and I as we were traveling knowing that there was always someone around Finnegan in case something went wrong in the middle of night.

Since our move to Denver in November, we have taken Finn to many of the popular daycares in the Denver metro area trying to find the “right” one. They all offered pretty much the same thing. Some of them had awesome pools , some of them had web-cams, but none of them had the around the clock supervison that we became accustomed to in Los Angeles.  This always bothered us in the back of our minds. What if there was a fire?  At all  of the places we took Finn, the facilities manager would close ( and leave) around 7pm and then reopen again at 8am leaving the dogs alone unsupervised for the entire evening/night. This was extremely disappointing to us. We figured this would have to be something we’d just have to get over, until……

Doggie Lounge and Nightclub recently opened up in Englewood ( where 285 and santa fe intersect). This doggie lounge is a breath of fresh air among the other Doggie daycare places in Denver. The owner, Kyllee Dionisi is extremely interested in the well being of your dog. She is a certified dog trainer, a member of the American Boarding Kennel Association (ABKA), and a volunteer with the Humane Society and animal behaviorist.  Kyllee decided to leave her job of managing one of Denver’s biggest day-cares to start up her own daycare with her Husband. You can tell that they have put a ton of work into making this place all about the dogs! The best part about this place is the fact that there will always be somebody with the dogs at night! Hooray!

Just adding that simple thing adds loads of comfort to traveling parents who are leaving their “babies”  for several nights. Chris and I were so happy to find a place with a cute ambiance, excellent managers, and extremely reasonable prices! In fact, the prices at Doggie Lounge and Nightclub are substantially less than what we were paying at some of Denver’s most well-known places!

There are TONS of great amenities that Doggie Lounge and Nightclub has to offer.  In addition to the extremely nice owners, the lounge also offers rubber floors to protect your pups paws ( and just seems more hygienic all around) , a wonderful boutique with some extremely unique gifts for your pet, a large outdoor area, and not a kennel in sight. The entire place has a cool and hip vibe to it. It’s the type of place I wouldn’t mind hanging out at for the afternoon. Which brings me to the next best thing about this place….
The lounge was hosting a wine tasting event for Doggie owners on Saturday afternoon when we came to pick up Finn for his trial day at camp. It was a great way to mingle with other dog owners, while sipping on some excellent wine! Word on the street is that there will be lots of other events like this in the future. They are in the process of opening up an “owner’s  lounge” upstairs where dog owners can come mingle and maybe get in a few games of poker while watching their pups play below ( from a large window overlooking the outdoor play area).

We cannot WAIT to have Finn spend a week here while we are on vacation next week. Thank you Kyllee for opening up the boarding facilities of our dreams!

finn

Kyllee takes "first day" photo's of all her campers! Awwww!

finn makes friends!

finn makes friends!

Finn being social at camp!

Finn being social at camp!

Dog Friendly Hike near Littleton Colorado

It’s the last weekend in May and the weather has finally decided to be agreeable for a weekend. After planning a hike 6 weeks ago every weekend has been snow, rain, or generally bad weather and our outdoor spirit was ruined by the muddy conditions. With a few nice hours on Saturday and a beautiful Sunday morning it’s about time we got out there. First up on the hiking list, a random selection from a trail guide of Denver, is the Coyote Song Trail at South Valley Park in Ken Caryl. Below are some pictures from our hike along with a trail map link and directions to the park.

Dog friendly hiking trail in the Colorado foothills

Dog friendly hiking trail in the Colorado foothills

Hiking with a golden retriever

Hiking with a golden retriever

Tucked just the other side of the foothills at the base of the Rockies South Valley Park is only 900 acres but has paths totaling 8 miles. Maintained by Jefferson County the park offers a few trail options of varying lengths and difficulty levels. The plan for Finnegan is take the Coyote Song Trail out and back for a total of 3 miles. A copy of the South Valley Park trail map (pdf) is good to have to make sure we only do 3 miles and not more. With his hip dysplasia we prefer not to work Finn for too much longer than that at any one time considering he goes on a run every morning anyways. Also with the weather (mid 80′s) Finn is prone to overheating. Winter helped him build up his golden coat but now we’re seeing it shed by the pound and 80 degree hikes just can not be comfortable.

Informational signs on Coyote Song Trail

Informational signs on Coyote Song Trail

Finnegan reading the signs

Finnegan reading the signs

From C470 take the Ken Caryl Road exit and head west. Keep left at the light onto South Valley Road. On the left will be a lake and parking lot for the trails. A second parking lot is located at the other end of the trails (continue on South Valley and turn on left on Deer Creek Canyon Road for the other smaller lot).

Moving a Dog
Golden Retriever Finn sleeping as usual

Golden Retriever Finn sleeping as usual

There has been a lot going on in Finn’s world these past few months, and the next few include some fun times as well. Back in December we moved from wonderful Southern California to Denver Colorado. Nothing in particular brough us here, just a general sense of wanting to try something new. Getting settled in the area, situated to a new job, new climate, and new friends has been quite an experience.

The move itself was surprisingly uneventful. We drove here twice to get both cars and the second time Finn made the trip. 5 hours to Northern California was a breeze, it is a trip Finnegan has made a few times. We then spent Christmas at the Parents house with Bear enjoying his stocking and all the new plants in the yard while getting praised from the whole family for being so adorable. After a few days though it was time to be on our way, next Stop Salt Lake City where we’d visit Finn’s Aunt. Later December is not the best time for such a pilgrimage, chains required going through Tahoe, poor visibility, but luckily we didn’t hear a peep from the little guy in the back. He was content to let us do the talking and each time we stopped he dutifully hopped out, peed and then settled back in for some more driving. In Salt Lake we stayed at a great, dog friendly hotel.

The Hotel Monaco in Salt Lake city gets as many thumbs up as a dog can give. It turns out the whole Kimpton line of hotels is dog friendly. Well, pet friendly. See if a guest does not have their own pet to bring on the trip the staff, upon request,  will provide a goldfish that will be fed and cared for by the housekeeping staff but who lives in the guest room. Even if you’re only staying a night or two. What’s more, when we told them we’d be traveling with a pet there was no crazy deposit on the room, no weight limit, no major concerns of any kind. Clearly they’d worked with dog owners before. When we did arrive our room had a dog bed already in it and a nice food and water bowl. We only stayed one night becasue we had to get to Denver, but it was the first time Finn got to see snow.

A few hours after we got to SLC, and once we had eaten dinner, it started to snow. There was already the 5-6 inches from a previous storm but the active snow was too much to pass up. I grabbed Finn’s leash and we went for a walk despite the cold. Out in front of the Mormon temple I let him loose to romp in the now 8 inches of snow, hopping up and down, burying his head, trying to eat the flakes. We didn’t stay long as I wasn’t equipped for the temperature, and after about 20 minutes it was back to the hotel to get ready for another day of driving. 24 hours later we were settling into our new house excited for thigns to come.

The location change was a lot to take in.  In Finn’s case the move meant no more yard to play in (yard is a relative term as the old one turned into one big burn spot dotted with signs of digging and paw tracks). Instead Finnegan hangs out inside most of the day. He’s cool with this as it means he gets to sleep on cool hardwood floors and soft static inducing carpet, he rotates about hourly. At first we were concerned. How is our outdoor puppy who is used to relieving himself at will onthe lawn, chasing the occasional bird, and basking in the sun going to handle being in an inclosed space? Well he did just fine, minus a few weeks of learning curve to teach him carpet is not grass (he’d never really experienced carpet before), and now he goes on a lot more walks. Because this live bear is cooped up inside all day we make it a point to take him on real walks more.

Finn’s mom is great about the mornings, when Finn joins her for her morning runs. It’s nice that he’s with her as there can be viscious wildlife on the trail, but then I have to be worried about Finn too. At lunch he joins me to pick up the mail at the end of our court and we usually stretch that out into a mile long stroll. Then on a lot of nights we’ll play fetch behind the house. We can’t play during the day as the golfers would be angry, and we now need to be careful about letting Finn in the pond, but overall I think he gets more quality playtime now.

Not everything has been easy about moving to a new city but it is nice to have someone in the house who barely knows the difference. On any given day Finn stills greets us with his patented half smile, tongue out to the side, wide-eyed looks that will make you forget about anything else.

Furry Scurry
Finn and Friends at Furry Scurry Denver

Finn and Friends at Furry Scurry Denver

The mile high city has been an adventure for all of us, Finn included, since moving in December. The bear has acclimated well to the high altitude but somehow he now sleeps more than before (we’re up to 20 hours on some days). He still gets out though. There are a few dog parks in the area, a nice trail by the house, cool neighbor dogs, and even Finn’s first entry required event.

A few weekends ago Finn’s mom took him to the Furry Scurry. A run/walk put on by the Dumb Friends League to help support homeless pets. The whole thing raised close to $1Million.

The event was held in Washinton Park, in Denver. A great area that we’ve taken Finn for runs in otherwise, and he even had some company. The little Boston terriers are Louis and Wendel. Louis rocked a stroller for the event and both of the little guys were wearing their Varsity Letterman Jackets. I have no idea what sport they are from but I think we need to get Finn into sports so he can get a cool jacket as well.