“Walk” is a four-letter word in my household. My family and I spell it out, say it in Spanish, and do whatever it takes to avoid its usage in the presence of our dog. If we do happen to utter the fateful word, our energetic poodle, Ozzie, will be sure to follow us around the house relentlessly until we grudgingly leash up and take him outside.

We are not the only family to have banned the free use of this word, for most other dog owners in Portland, Oregon, are burdened with the same dog-walking condition. A canine’s need for constant activity can certainly be credited to their innate desire for exercise, but also to the enticing thrill of the various parks that lie in Portland and the surrounding area.

From the squirrel-infested trails at Forest Park to abandoned fields in quaint Northeast neighborhoods like Laurelhurst, Portland’s dog owners and their respective pets are pampered with the luxury of choice.

My family’s love for outdoor activity has only worsened Ozzie’s condition, making it impossible for him to settle for the typical walk around the block. Thankfully, Portland provides many solutions to this common dog walker’s dilemma.

Historic Architecture

For those who admire historical architecture and landscaping, Northeast Portland offers dog-walking routes that pass numerous colonial houses decorated tastefully with turrets and unruly ivy.

Tucked in between these mansions are hidden stairways overgrown with wildflowers and shrubbery.

At the top of these passageways, breathtaking views will cause walkers to pause before being pulled down the stairs by their curious dogs. The pristine houses at the base of the stairs, with their manicured lawns and stylish design, will be sure to incite envy and awe.

For those who seek challenge and exercise, the hills of Southwest Portland provide scenic inclines that look out over of the metropolitan area. The Marquam trail, in particular, leads dog walkers through various parks and back roads, finishing at the highest point in Portland — Council Crest.
The view from Council Crest. Photos by Mark Stevenson. The view from Council Crest. Photos by Mark Stevenson.

From the top of the hill lies the rare panoramic view of Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Rainier, along with downtown and the winding Willamette River.

A portion of grass is available for off leash dogs to run free during certain hours of the day and benches are ready for those tired from the elevation gain.

A Popular Getaway

For a day trip outside the city, Sauvie’s Island hosts a wide array of beaches and fields for play and exploration.

Only a thirty-minute drive from Portland, the island provides scenic bike and walking paths and a popular getaway from urban life.

Here, dog’s can reconnect with their canine instincts while doggy paddling through lazy rivers or rustling birds amid overgrown fields. Owners will enjoy the local scenery of farms and country stores that sell fresh vegetables and organic fruits handpicked from neighboring orchards.

Any Dog’s Heaven

Several Portland parks such as Sellwood, Fernhill, and Mr. Tabor are popular locations for running and dog play dates. However, my family prefers the community of Wilshire. This expansive, 14-acre park is any dog’s heaven, complete with an abundant supply of squirrels and fellow dogs for sniffing.
Ozzie socializes with fellow dogs at Wilshire Park in Northeast Portland. Ozzie socializes with fellow dogs at Wilshire Park in Northeast Portland.

This is where Ozzie chased his first squirrel, caught his first ball, and learned to respond to his name. Along with many other Portland dogs, Wilshire is Ozzie’s second home.

The dog park is full of regulars that visit Wilshire nearly every day. One dog owner, Nick Jensen, has frequented Wilshire every morning for the past five years to give his equally energetic German Shepards some exercise before work.

Nick chooses Wilshire as his regular dog-park due to the proximity to his home and for the welcoming community. As he says, “There is always a face to recognize.”

Great Place to Own a DogMarcellus

One of those faces belongs to Tom Ellicott, who moved here in 1976 from Manhattan. He counts the years he has been visiting Wilshire in dogs. He has adopted three “children” since his move to Portland, including a happy little Chow puppy he named Sho. Tom walks Sho throughout Portland and claims that the city is “one of the best places to be a dog-owner.”

And indeed it is. Aside from outdoor activity, Portland canines are spoiled with services of every caliber, including hotels, grooming salons, and upscale boutiques.
Ozzie chases a ball on one of the many beaches of Sauvie Island, located just outside of Portland. Click on photo to enlarge. Ozzie chases a ball on one of the many beaches of Sauvie Island, located just outside of Portland.

Pet bakeries, like Cheeky Kiki, boast gourmet treats, while doggy social centers, like Lexi Dog Boutique, host birthday parties and even salon appointments.

If visiting Portland and wanting some time to explore the city without Fido at your heel, there are several doggy daycare centers available for a quick drop off as well.

By walking our dogs through the back streets of neighborhoods or the trails of Forest Park, we are reminded of our own humanity; of our desire for play and for relationships, of our need for departure from the hustle of daily life.

Although Portland is packed with fancy restaurants and colorful theaters, dog walking is some of the last free leisure our city has left. So explore the rugged Northwest through the eyes of a metropolitan dog. You will receive a taste of the Portland I know, the Portland Ozzie knows, the Portland so many dog lovers call home.

Read more at https://www.gonomad.com/1252-walk-on-fido-a-guide-to-dog-friendly-portland-oregon#FCGhruo3umEmBoV9.99
BY: Jane R Stevenson