Stimulating (But Safe!) Places for Energetic Canines
by Jay Blotcher
The Mid-Hudson Valley spreads out before you in all its glory: mountains, valleys, woods, country fields, streams, and lakes. In short, it’s a huge playground beckoning your cherished canine companion to take a bracing romp.
But before you let your dog run free, consider that this paradise also offers more than a few hazards: deer ticks that carry Lyme Disease, coyotes, and other unfriendly elements. Happily, there are numerous alternative sites here in the Valley for your four-legged friends to run, under safe, supervised conditions.
People come from all over the world to stay at the luxurious Emerson Resort and Spa in Mt. Tremper. What they might not know is that this wellknown accommodation offers a recreation area for unleashed dogs—with access whether you are a lodger or an area resident (annual membership required for the latter). The Catamount Dog Park is fenced in and measures 60 feet wide by 100 feet long. The park offers fresh running water for dog bowls, as well as a shower area. Owners of pocket-sized pups will be happy to know that Catamount has set aside an area for small dogs to interact.
According to Veronica Fannon, front desk agent at The Emerson, pet lovers have given the dog park high marks: “They’re happy to find a place around here that accommodates dogs.” The Emerson offers a variety of pampering services for pooches, which they call the Emerson PupGrade. emersonresort.com/catamount-dogpark.
Zoo Cafe in Stone Ridge is the brainchild of dog lover Mary McNamara. After visiting pet stores all around the country, McNamara decided she would create a gathering place for dogs and humans alike. It opened in June 2010, with an emphasis on socializing, exercise, and high-quality foods and toys. In this roomy fenced-in patio area, connected to her sprawling home, people and pets can stretch their muscles or just laze about.
“Bring your pet,” McNamara said. “Sit, stay, play. I turned my backyard into a social area. You can meet up with friends and likeminded dogs can hook up.”
McNamara’s combination cafe and store sells bakery treats which are all-natural or organic, as well as nutritionally balanced dog food. Zoo Cafe will not sell just any dog toy, McNamara said. The items for sale emphasize agility, problem-solving, and interaction, like flexible toys that contain a piece of food and requires the dog to remove it. Squeaky items are verboten, McNamara said, for a simple reason: these toys reward aggression, she said; the squeak that emanates every time the dog bites into the toy mimics the cry of a wounded animal.
Zoo Cafe is especially geared for the active Hudson Valley dog, who accompanies its human friends on outdoor activities in this region. The shelves stock canine life preservers for boating and kayaking, biking accessories, backpacks for hiking, and animal-sized camping gear.
Speaking of dogs with active lifestyles, several of the rail trails in Ulster County afford dogs a nice brisk (leashed) run with their owners. According to Danielle Cardella, president of For Paws of Ulster, Inc., these locations include Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, Highland Rail Trail, and the expansive Walkway Over the Hudson State Park (walkway.org), which stretches across the Hudson with entrances in Highland and Poughkeepsie.
Ulster County currently lacks a public dog park. For Paws of Ulster has been working toward that objective for a year. As Cardella notes on her website, “Dog parks provide an immeasurable social benefit to not only the dogs that use them, but to their human owners as well.” Cardella’s group estimates the expenses for a three-acre dog park, replete with trees for shade, a water fountain for both canines and humans, benches, and dog rest stations would be between $14,000 and $20,000. They are currently fundraising in hopes of securing the land in the future. The proposed park, ideally sited at the Ulster County Pool Complex and Fairgrounds, would be accessible to all county residents.
Citizens have banded together in towns across Ulster County to create local dog parks, including in Highland, Gardiner, and Marbletown. A group in the city of Kingston, the county seat, is close to completing negotiations with the Kingston Recreation and Parks department for a dog park on the edge of the city limits.
A generously sized dog run is located at Rondout Valley Animals for Adoption in Accord. Access is available through membership. In the absence of dog parks, RVAA also offers a variety of agility training classes for dogs who need to focus their energies, as well as obedience training and behavioral consultations, said shelter manager Jane Kopelman. “Our philosophy is to foster humane conditions for animals both in and out of the shelter,” she said.
“Agility classes are a great way to exercise your dog’s mind and body while strengthening your bond with them,” said Cardella.
In Dutchess County, there are several dog parks. Fishkill offers Doug Phillips Dog Park on Route 52, a fenced-in area that features drinking water and benches. Managed by the town, it is available to both residents ($25 annually) and nonresidents ($50). The Town of LaGrange’s dog park is called See Spot Run. Located at Overlook Park, it is open to residents of both LaGrange and bordering towns, which includes the town of Poughkeepsie, Pleasant Valley, Union Vale, Beekman, East Fishkill, and Wappinger.
If your dog has a taste for extreme sports, then check out Hudson Valley Dock Dogs (HVDD) in Dutchess County. This club for canine dock diving, established in June 2008, is a nonprofit organization. Members meet and practice at Ledgewood Kennel in Millerton, where competitions are held throughout the year.
Energetic hiking for dogs can be found across the region, said photographer Kelly Merchant of High Falls. She and husband Bill take their dogs on multiple-mile treks as often as possible. Destinations include the John Burroughs cabin and pond, and the Black Creek Preserve, both in Espous. Moderate trail hiking with beautiful views are available at Sam’s Point Preserve, in Cragsmoor.
A festival guaranteed to provide your canine adequate recreation and social stimulation is The Hudson Valley Pet Palooza and Dog Walk. Established in 2009, this annual event offers everything for dog and human alike: on-site rabies clinic, on-site micro-chipping, interactive games for humans and dogs, pet product and service vendors, dog agility demonstrations, live music, and food. The most recent Palooza happened on May 21 at Dutchess County Fairgrounds.
On the west side of the Hudson, the hamlet of High Falls holds an annual Pet Fair in May, put on by the High Falls Civic Association, which draws area pet item vendors, adoption groups, and pet experts. The centerpiece of the annual event is a pet contest, where dogs may compete against goats and turtles for titles that include Call of the Wild (Vocal Talent), Obedience School Graduate (special tricks), The Graybeards (elder pets), The Whippersnappers (junior pets), and Mr. And Ms. High Falls.
Jay Blotcher, a decade-long Ulster County resident, is the contented human companion of Scout, an ultra-cuddly Field Lab adopted from Rondout Valley Animals for Adoption.
DIRECTORY OF RESOURCES:
Catamount Dog Park Emerson Resort
5340 Route 28,
Doug Phillips Dog Park
Route 52 and
Doug Phillips Road
For Paws of Ulster, Inc.
High Falls Pet Fair
High Falls Civic Association
Hudson Valley Dock Dogs
639 Smithfield Road,
Andrea Bacon, president
Hudson Valley Pet Palooza
Rondout Valley Animals for Adoption
See Spot Run
Town of LaGrange
3050 Route 209,
Mary McNamara, manager
DOG PARK ETIQUETTE
Consider these important matters in advance, to ensure fun and safety for dog and human alike.
Before heading to the park:
• Be sure your dog is well socialized around
dogs and people. Early socialization of puppies
is essential. If your dog is under-socialized,
consult a trainer or veterinarian first.
• Make sure your dog’s shots are current.
• Be sure your dog is well trained in basic
commands like sit, stay, come (recall), and
leave it, so that he will be more likely to obey
you if a fight occurs.
• Visit the dog park in advance (without your
dog) to assess whether it would be appropriate
for your pet.
• Familiarize yourself with dog play styles and
body language to know when to remove your
dog if play gets out of hand.
At the dog park:
• Before entering, check to be sure the dogs
are playing in a manner suitable for your dog,
and that pet parents are supervising their dogs.
• If your dog tends to be possessive of
toys, make sure there are no toys around.
Possessive behavior leads to skirmishes.
• Don’t bring food or treats to the dog park, as
competition for food can spark a fight.
• Always keep a close eye on your dog to
ensure he’s playing nicely with others.
In case of a fight:
• If you notice play getting out of hand, remove
your dog before a fight can begin. This is where
a strong “leave it” and recall are important.
• If your dog won’t come to you, try making a
loud noise, to surprise the dogs. Try a deep yell
of “no”, or loud clap or bang. Or bring a small
air horn or metal to bang.
• If the dog park has a water hose, squirt the
fighting dogs. Consider carrying citronella
spray, a harmless product used to interrupt
some levels of aggressive canine behavior.
• If you must step in to break up the fight, alert
the other dog’s guardian. Both calmly approach
the dogs. Never reach for a dog’s collar, even
your own. Always keep hands from their heads
to avoid a misplaced snap in the heat of a fight.
• Upon approach, carefully grab your dog by
the upper hind legs near the hips. Lift him in the
wheelbarrow position and pull backward, away
from the other dog.
Source: The Dutchess County SPCA
How to make Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits
• 2 cups whole wheat flour
• 2 cups spelt flour
• 2 cups of quick cooking rolled oats
• ¼ cup flax seeds
• 2 ½ cups of warm water
• 1 ½ cups of natural peanut butter
• 1 cup of dog food for garnish, if you like
1. First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Next, mix the wheat flour, spelt flour, oats, and flax seeds in a big bowl.
3. Then, mix in the water and peanut butter.
4. Next, knead the dough on a floured surface so that the dough does
not stick to the surface.
5. Then, roll out the dough until it is about ½-inch thick.
6. After that, take cookie cutters and cut any shape out. If you really
want them to look like doggie treats, use a bone-shaped cookie cutter.
7. Now put the treats in the oven for a half hour or until they look done.
8. If you want, you can decorate the top of the treats with dog food.
9. Let them cool for 25 minutes.
10. Finally, give your pup a delicious and healthy snack! He’ll love you for it!
May cause your dog to lick you uncontrollably!