I promised my partner that we weren’t going in to adopt a dog. We were just going to look. We wanted to wait. We wanted to make sure we picked the right dog. (Spoiler alert: we came back for a dog the very next day. I lied. Unintentionally.) The camera roll in my phone has now gone from selfies and food shots to dog pictures and selfies with the dog.
Otter is a Lab/Collie mutt who appears to have been assembled by IKEA. Attempting to sit involves a complicated gymnastic maneuver that involves dropping his shoulder, butt in air, before rolling over. His favorite things to do include draping himself across your lap (contorting in ways that cannot be comfortable) and Extreme Belly Rubz™, which involves Otter being dragged around in circles on the carpet, pivoting around the rope held tightly in his mouth. (It’s hysterical. Come find me, and I’ll show you at least three separate videos in my phone of the phenomenon.) Otter wants for very little else than playing with other dogs and running as far as he can.
We adopted this strange creature from the Oregon Humane Society after having officially moved to Portland six months ago. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to explore the city beyond its bars and restaurants. Rescuing Otter has opened my eyes to the fact that there’s an actual outdoors around here. Whodathunk?
It turns out that Portland and environs are great for exploring the outdoors with your dog. In a city where even restaurants cater to our four-legged friends, it makes sense that there’s plenty to do with Fido.
For the shy doggos: Elk Rock Island
Sarah, a vet tech at Rose City Vet, recommends checking out Elk Rock Island in Milwaukie for dog-shy or dog-aggressive canines. “It’s a great area—you can walk the trolley trail, and in the summer when the river goes down, walk right across to Elk Rock Island,” Sarah said. Right off MAX’s Orange Line, the trolley trail and paths are well marked and usually pretty quiet. The trolley trail and surrounding paths are leash-required.
Looking to hike around with your pup? Try the Hoyt Arboretum. It features 12 miles of dog-friendly hiking trails. Tryon Creek State Park, near Lake Oswego, features picturesque walking trails along the creek, with footbridges and benches throughout the park.
Not a fan of hiking, but still looking to get outside with your companion? Check out the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in Southeast, Pittock Mansion in the West Hills, or the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park: All feature lovely gardens and easy walking trails with stunning views. Take a break from studying for finals to literally get out and smell the roses.
Park your dog here
Looking for places specifically catering to dogs? Visit Southeast Portland’s Sellwood Riverfront Park on the east bank of the Willamette, or downtown Portland’s Waterfront Park on the west bank. For Northeast Portland locales, check out Normandale Park, where small dogs, big dogs and shy dogs are separated by double gates so that everyone is comfortable. If you’re looking to get your fit on, there is a track adjacent. Closer in, Mt. Tabor Dog Park features short trails, play areas and plenty of room to explore.
After you’ve been outside working up a thirst, you’ll want to stop for a beer before you go home. Rayna Jensen, a graduate student at Portland State, enjoys bringing her dog Pippa to Growler Guys on Belmont: the Guys keep a box of Milkbones behind the counter.
“This was probably the worst time to get a puppy,” Jensen said. “Everyone tried to dissuade me. I had just moved to a new city and I had just started grad school, and I knew a puppy would be a lot of responsibility. But…it’s still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s so nice to come home to a little thing that is always so happy and ready to play. It definitely makes whatever stress I’m dealing with seem more manageable. Plus, she helps me keep a schedule, which is so important when juggling the classes I’m taking and teaching with whatever else is going on.”
Free as a dog
For off-leash fun, Cate at Sellwood Pet Supply loves the Thousand Acre Park, also known as Sandy River Delta Park, out in Troutdale where the Sandy River meets the Columbia: “It’s a very solid and reliable place.” Deanna at Sellwood Pet Supply recommends Mt. Tabor. “There’s just so many places to go to,” she said, after a moment of indecision.
For the cat people
Sellwood Pet Supply regularly teams up with Roma County to help adopt cats if you’re looking for a more low-maintenance companion. Currently up for adoption: the lovely Bill Purray, who is “sweet and sassy and would make a great apartment cat,” Deanna said. Cate added, “He just wants to hang.”
The store has two events coming up. On March 26, Oregon Dog Rescue will be visiting for the day, and on April 1 the store will be hosting the One Tail at a Time event. Come check them out, whether you are looking for a new buddy to hang with, or grabbing some treats for your old pal. Or maybe you want to come meet the fabulous Bill Purray. (I hear he’ll even let you pet him.)