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Sunday, January 01, 2006

Oxnard/Ventura: On the Beach/Dog Run

Most people know Southern California has beautiful beaches - long stretches of clean sand to lie on, seagulls and pelicans dive-bombing the dark blue surf, dolphins and sometimes even seals swimming close to shore as surfers take the waves. Most dogs have no idea. They aren't allowed anywhere near the water and sure don't get an opportunity to see how to have any fun there.

In Ventura, there is a huge stretch of beach called Mandalay Shores where dogs are swimming, dogs are playing. And, even more unusual, they are welcomed there by the mix of surfers, sunbathers and weekend tourists. Mandalay Beach can be found off of Harbor Blvd., between 5th Street all the way down to Channel Islands Harbor although I usually stay toward the North.

Access to the water is at various points of the streets and alleys closest to the water. There are dog litter bag dispensers scattered near these entrances and trashcans for quick disposal. Dogs are to be kept on leash but during the week when the beaches are emptier, the dogs have more leeway and can be seen sprinting around in the sand. Labs and other water-loving dogs are jumping in, getting soaked, then returning to their owners to share the fur-water shakeout.

This is a great place to have a dog companion. Honey and I walk farther than I ever would on my own, playing the whole way. She runs into the edges of the surf. She does love the water but this is quite different from the wading pools she's used to. One time a small but strong wave caught her so I quickly grabbed her collar to offset the pull of the tide back. I'm glad it happened because, it wasn't deep enough to do any harm but, it was scary enough to teach her not to run in.

Honey also likes to stroll along and eat some of the seaweed that gets washed up. I watch this pastime of hers pretty carefully. I met a woman with a nice young basset hound that had developed a taste for sand crabs. She let the dog feast on them and then found out the shells were lodged in his intestines and he had to have an operation to clear it up.

There's also some stick chasing, some ball retrieving (but not much because the sandy taste of the ball does seem to interfere with some of the pleasure of that) and sometimes we're just lying down in the sand and watching everyone. Honey is a big people watcher - especially if they're a little distance away so she can't see them very well. One woman was buried in the sand turning her head this way and that to talk to her companions. Honey went into a rigid sit pose and couldn't take her eyes off her. She really wanted to know what that was about and wasn't truly satisfied until the woman got up. Since Honey is an AmStaff aka Pit Bull, her stare seems initimidating to some people but the only thing she is interested in is if there is a dog around for her to play with....she loves people but dogs trump people any day because they know how to play! (Some pits ARE very dog aggressive and their owners need to be responsive to that - luckily, Honey is one of the sociable ones.) Okay, and I do believe she is constantly on alert in case there is an abandoned piece of buttered toast or perhaps a nice breast of chicken.

Recommendation: Park on a side street. Start off on-leash. If you don't bring water, have some in the car in case it is a hot day. Look around for a doggie bag dispenser (or bring your own), and find one of the many signs that point to coastal access. Walk on in and start exploring. Weekends during the winder - morning, noon and right before sundown, this makes a great dog day.


Blogger darreldenton4408 said...

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12:19 PM  
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Blogger Boomer said...

With pictures of Pitts like yours, people could finally start seeing the beauty and sweetness inherent in all living things. Honey is such a friendly looking pup. If she does tricks, post some pix of it.

4:35 PM  

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