In his world, springtime isn’t measured by a calendar or a thermometer. For him, warm weather is returning home after a long game of fetch – his human holding a slobber-soaked tennis ball in her hand without fear of frostbite – and jumping in the bath tub.
Dubya, born on a quail plantation, spent his first days in the company of fellow bird dogs. His early weeks with me were peppered with grassy walks, lazy lake afternoons, and 100-degree dips in a backyard swimming pool. Then, an overloaded Mini Cooper ventured from Georgia to the Mid-Atlantic – replacing country club convenience with Capitol Hill claustrophobia and cutting doggy paddle days painfully short.
Despite several gallant attempts to pull both of us into the Tidal Basin – beckoning him from the heart of the National Mall – Dubya’s deepest DC dives were confined to dog park mud puddles and sidewalk sinkholes. Our move to Manhattan in May of 2015 was marked with new temptations; between brackish scents of the Hudson River and turtles taunting him from ponds in Central Park, the limits of Dubya’s leash and patience are continuously tried and tested.
My 100-pound, unneutered water dog jumped off his first dock into South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell when he was 15-weeks old. He celebrated his birthday swimming with dolphins and sunbathing on a sandbar that flanks the coast of St. Simons Island. On NYC’s Upper West Side, however – where stacked studio apartments stand in place of residential subdivisions – Dubya’s aquatic addictions are manifested through shallow, static backstrokes in my itty bitty bathtub.
On certain Saturdays, when sunshine convinces us to escape our city confines, my four-legged companion and I explore metropolitan parks punctuated with pet-friendly ponds and pools. In celebration of National Puppy Day, read about our favorite destinations and prepare to dive into the dog days of 2016.
Shirlington Dog Park | Arlington, VA
The creek that borders this long, narrow dog run is deep enough for a doggy dip, but mild enough to accommodate novice or pint-sized swimmers. However, be prepared – a romp on the park’s muddy riverbank begs for immediate bath time.
James Hunter Dog Park | Clarendon, VA
A manmade waterfall cascading into a well-maintained pool in the corner of James Hunter Dog Park allows for a more contained but no less exhilarating experience for dogs and owners seeking a quick and clean urban cool off.
DeWitt Clinton Park | New York, NY
DeWitt Clinton Park is situated in a central area of Manhattan – thus, making the location somewhat walkable for many inhabitants. Warm-weather patrons of the facility often fill kiddie pools with icy water, providing an appreciated playtime treat for panting pups.
Prospect Park Dog Beach | Brooklyn, NY
Welcome to a world where hipsters and hounds bond, bathe, and bask in nature’s glory that rests beyond the shadows of the Big Apple. The park’s acclaimed dog beach serves as a secure environment for city canines to romp and run.