By Dusty Trails
We love our dogs here in Central Oregon. That’s why Dog Fancy magazine named Bend the top “dog town” in the country last year. We’ve got restaurants that encourage dogs in their patio areas, a parade for pets on the 4th of July, and a luxury hotel that gives your dog a personalized pet bed, Joshua Tree Pet Salve, and even pet massages. So yes, I think it’s safe to say we’re deserving of our new title.
In the summertime, it’s not uncommon to see dogs floating along on the front of a kayak or paddleboard with the locals, or jumping into the river after a Frisbee at the River Bend Dog Park. The city boasts six other off-leash areas, along with miles of dog-friendly mountain biking trails in the Deschutes National Forest.
Wintertime is just as much fun for dogs. The city’s dog advocacy group, DogPAC, has acquired a snowcat—renamed Sno-Dog—to enhance trail grooming at Wanoga Sno-Park, resulting in a two-mile loop of dog-friendly winter trails next to your own ski and snowshoe tracks.
Area residents and winter visitors can take dog-sled rides at the Oregon Trail of Dreams on Mt. Bachelor and maybe meet local Iditarod musher Rachel Scdoris. Mt. Bachelor Avalanche Rescue Dogs are skilled at locating victims under masses created by snow slides, while the dogs in the High Desert Search Dogs group focus on wilderness and urban tracking and trailing.
With “ruffly” 27,000 dogs to 80,000 people, the city has definitely warmed up to its canine companions. It’s easy to see why Dog Fancy has honored Bend as the best place for man’s best friends to have a healthy, active life. And it’s not too shabby for their owners, either.