Hot Dog!

When the pooch needs to frolic, where are some good places?

It’s feeling awfully hot out and your furry family member is panting and looking miserable. Other than going for guilt-ridden drinks on a patio, what is a dog parent to do? While blessed with an engaged community, the majestic Fraser River, and vibrant small business community, New Westminster is sadly lacking in swimming holes. (Mayor and Council – what are you doing to resolve this? I’m hoping to see a staff report soon.)

If your floof is feeling the heat, there’s some accessible swimming spots that are a quick drive from the city. Here’s three of our favourites. 

The Meadow

Best for: lazy dogs (and parents), medium heat days, and dogs who like to hide in long grass

Foreshore 1My first visit to Foreshore Park in Burnaby was less than glorious. The main section of the park is a lovely place for a picnic, but not a great place to let hounds run free. Insider tip: park by either the incinerator or the youth detention centre and head into the trail from there. It’s a short loop that includes a fun meadow. You can also take the long path down to a swimming pool that is dependent on Fraser River tides. If no log booms are tied up, dogs can do short swims but will come out smelling like – you guessed it – the river. In mid spring, a twilight stroll will be accompanied by a choir of frogs.

Thanks to Goose’s mom, Laura Sunnus, for the tip!

The Seashore

Best for: the dog days of summer

Barnet 1Haven’t heard of Barnet Marine Park? You’re not only one! While not to be attempted during rush hour, in evenings and on weekends it’s about a 15 minute drive. This park gives me Vancouver Island melancholy. Recently, starfish have been appearing in profusion along the beach and there’s plenty of mini-crabs and occasionally an otter. Get yourself to the far end of the parking lot to have direct access to the off-leash area. If you head over the foot bridge you will have a longer walk but will need to traverse a popular picnic area. During summer weekends, the lot will be full by 1:00, but the off-leash area is still pretty sparse.

The “Other” River

Best for: meandering, contemplative discussions and eagle spotting

We’ve been going out to the Pitt River since Gus was a puppy. It’s a great place for a not-so-recall-trained puppy to stretch his legs. There’s several dykes to choose from and they’re all bordered by the river on one side and farmland on the other. On really hot days, these exposed walks really cook, but there’s nothing to say you can’t jump into the river with the dogs. Trust me, no one will judge you. When Gus was a puppy, we were concerned he wouldn’t like the water so went in with him the first time. In April. Gus is a golden retriever. I’ll say no more of our foolishness, but will encourage you to bring your bikes out to these trails. Warning: unless you’re partial to the smell of rotting salmon, do not go to Pitt River when the salmon are running in the fall.

Where do you take your dogs for heat relief? Share your industry secrets!

Nadine Nakagawa

Nadine Nakagawa is a community builder, a creative writer, a feminist, and an idealist. She loves spring-time flowers, a new notebook, and politics. Still operating on Island-time, she lives in Brow of the Hill area of New Westminster. You can find her eating vegan meals at local restaurants and walking her golden retriever Gus around the uptown area. Follow her #ilovenewwest series on Instagram and Twitter.

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  1. Not ENTIRELY appropriate, I’ll admit, but this seems like a good place to note that the city has just opened it “small dog off-leash test area” as part of the great existing off-leash area in Queen’s Park. So if you were wanting to take your <25lb dog out for a little run-around inside New West but were afraid of it getting overwhelmed by bigger dogs, you know where to go now. More info:

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