Bend has a reputation for going to the dogs, or at least accommodating them. A number of breweries, restaurants, and other businesses accommodate pet owners, even leaving out water bowls for our canine companions during the summer's heat.
But with their popularity comes controversy, especially regarding humans allowing their dogs to run off leash or "forgetting" to pick up after them.
Encouraging them to play by the rules, Bend Parks provides eight off-leash areas, including two small-dog parks for those not able to compete with the bigger breeds.
Dave Shaw often takes his pup Maximus to the Good Dog! Park trailhead on Century Drive between the Entrada Lodge and Widgi Creek Golf Course.
"You're in the beautiful Deschutes National Forest and only a few minutes from downtown," Shaw explains. "It's an ideal place for turning the dog loose and getting a walk in the woods."
The area is popular with dog lovers, offering trails for walking, running, and mountain biking, which makes for an area that is crowded at times.
But Shaw says that it is easy enough to find relative solitude.
"Away from the trailhead, the area is large with many trails, so even the busiest times make for a quiet walk in the woods," he notes.
Jaime Dispenza agrees, saying that he takes his dog Summit to Meadow Camp, also easily reached from the Good Dog! Park.
"This part of the trail offers great views and fun running terrain and there are plenty of squirrels to chase," Dispenza says, adding that the squirrels are for Summit.
Meg Andersen says she likes the broad expanse of Pine Nursery Park for her and Darwin, a 9-month-old English springer spaniel.
"It's more like taking him on a hiking trail than an off-leash park," she says. "It's so large that we could go long periods without seeing other dogs."
Anderson adds that the area is large enough that dogs tend not to form in packs and it provides a wide variety of terrain including open grass fields, dirt trails, and an agility course.
"We take him there about once every month or two, mostly because he is still a puppy in training," she says.
Cherie Touchette brings her dogs Toli and Mac with her to run on Forest Road 4606, off of Skyliners Road.
"Both dogs are German short hair pointers and need a lot of exercise," she says. "Running on leash does them no good."
Regardless of where dogs are taken for exercise, Shaw echoes the advice given by the parks department and repeated at dogpark.org.
"You will encounter other dogs out there, so only well socialized animals should be brought out, both off and on-leash," says Shaw.
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