Saturday, January 17, 2009
As if it isn't obvious from my previous posts (especially the last one!), let me reiterate--I love dogs. Love them. One of my favorite things to do is take my labradoodle Demi out for a run or to the docks at Redwood Shores. Demi is at her happiest here, chasing balls into the water for hours. Palo Alto is very dog compatible, with a number of quality dog runs and dog-approved local businesses. It sometimes seems like most members of the community are dog owners, and I've made some surprising friends while watching Demi play in local off-leash parks. As most pet-owners know, owning a dog is a great ice-breaker.
This isn't just personal opinion--according to the Dog Blog, San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area is one of the country's top cities for dogs. But if you're looking for the perfect place for you and your dog, don't overlook neighboring areas like Palo Alto, which feature dog-friendly amenities just as good as San Francisco's. In fact, two years ago our very own Palo Alto was the runner-up for the title of most dog friendly city in the USA. The rankings are determined by a number of criteria, including the percentage of of households that own dogs, number of dog parks, number of pet supply stores per capita, number of animal shelters per capita, number of dog boarding or daycare facilities per capita, number of heartworm cases--lowest incidence scores the highest (I love that this is taken into consideration--it's not just where dogs are happiest, but where dogs are healthiest), and the tie-breaker is the severity of local laws prohibiting animal cruelty and abuse.
There's no doubt about it: people in Palo Alto love their dogs. There are a few places that are absolutely indispensable for dog-owners considering the area. If you and your pet are surveying real estate in Palo Alto, you'll want to get familiar with these places quickly--
1. Pet Health: Palo Alto Pet Hospital Located on El Camino next to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, this is THE place to go for your pet's health needs. There's comfortable (heated!) boarding for your pets if they require an overnight stay and plenty of roomy areas so they aren't cooped up all day. Most medical services are performed at this facility, including surgery. They also provide excellent referrals.
2. Home Away From Home: PetsHotel by PetSmart An overnight or daycare facility for those days when you and your dog must be separated. There's tons of options as far as the comfort level you'd like your dog to have--in this way it's like a real hotel, offering a kind of sliding scale from standard accommodations to deluxe. PetsHotel is located in nearby Mountain View (very close to Palo Alto and almost as dog friendly), and they will also provide grooming services. Maybe your dog will make some friends!
3. You and Your Dog: Dog Friendly Hotels and Restaurants There are a number of dog-friendly businesses in Palo Alto. If you're strolling down University Avenue or through Stanford Shopping Center, it's very likely you won't have any trouble at all taking your well-behaved, and LEASHED dog inside the stores with you to browse. There's even a large number of dog-only boutiques (like one in Stanford Shopping Center), where your dog can check out speciality items ranging from full-fledged outfits to giant organic bones. Here's a short list of place I'm sure will welcome you and your dog. Hotels: Four Seasons, Crowne Plaza, The Westin, Sheraton, and Motel 6. Restaurants and Shopping: Restoration Hardware, Whole Foods, Nordstrom, Hear Music, Neiman Marcus, Books Inc, Giants Dugout, Bloomingdales, Postel Annex, The Sharper Image, Baja Fresh Mexican Grill, Golden Wok, Izzy's Brooklyn Bagels, Taxi's, Spalti Restaurant.
4. DOGS ONLY: Dog Runs, Dog Parks, Dog Docks The Palo Alto Baylands Preserve, on San Antonio Road, is five mostly unpaved miles of loop trail, where leashed dogs are allowed to run to their heart's content. This is an excellent spot for bird-watching, as well as a great place for your dog to play.
Stanford University is another great spot for your dog to go--Demi and I frequent Stanford's miles of paths and tree-lined walkways. At the end of Palm Drive there's a popular little hang-out spot where locals bring their dogs on nice days.
Hoover Park is a lovely little off-leash dog park on Cowper St. It's a great place to let your dog loose and get some exercise. Greer Park, on Amarillo Avenue, is a fenced off leash exercise park. Mitchell Park, located at 3800 Middlefield, is another wonderful spot.
Although it's not technically Palo Alto, there's another dog park I especially love located in nearby Mountain View (the same town as the PetsHotel). Shoreline Dog Park has two areas, one for big dogs and one for small dogs, and shaded picnic tables for people too. Outside of each area you'll find purel hand sanitizer, paper towels, and poop bags. Water fountains for dogs and people, and close walking distance to downtown. This place is always crowded, so you and your dog will definitely leave with some new friends. The owners who take their dogs here are respectful, and if you go in the morning you'll see rake marks in the sandy dog areas--they're cleaned nightly.
There really are so many reasons your dog will love Palo Alto. The city has a lovely natural setting, and the community definitely treasures its open spaces. It's actually classified as an urban forest, and with 34 city parks and almost 4,000 acres of wildlife preserves, Palo Alto stays true to that description. Your dog will thrive in the healthy atmosphere. If you have any questions about more dog friendly Palo Alto areas or similar amenities in areas like Sunnyvale, Menlo Park, and Mountain View, please feel free to ask. Demi and I know these places inside out!