Doggy Heaven: A Trip to Sandy River Delta Park

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Rain had a trip to Sandy River Delta Park over the long weekend. Doggy heaven!

If you’re not familiar, this park (also known as Thousand Acres Dog Park) is located near Portland where the Sandy River flows into the mighty Columbia. It’s an enormous dog park! There are a few places where dogs should be on leash, but it’s otherwise a doggy free-for-all.

There are forested areas thick with underbrush. There are wide open fields with grasses and an occasional oak tree. There is plenty of water access—along the Sandy River, the Columbia River, and a small channel that connects the two.

As you can imagine, it’s a pretty popular place.

Rain was excited to get walking. Once we were a fair distance from the trailhead, I took her off leash. I was just about to dig out the tennis ball I brought, when she was staring at the ground and I saw that she had already found one herself! So we played fetch as we meandered toward the northern part of the park.

Racquetballs have some advantages over tennis balls for everyday ball playing, but I try and take tennis balls when we go somewhere we might end up losing the ball somehow. Ironically, we often come prepared to lose our ball and more often end up finding another ball or two to bring back home with us!

We soon came to what I like to think of as Doggy Muscle Beach, a stretch of the aforementioned channel with a wide beach area. This is one of the prime spots in the park for doggy water fun.

Where the banks are higher, some dogs will jump in and swim across to get a stick or ball. Where the bank descends more gradually into the water is where Rain enjoys hanging out.

A few times, I deliberately threw the ball just a little further into the water, hoping Rain would swim a few feet to get her precious new ball. She didn’t love the underwater drop. Instead of swimming, she ended up walking down the bank as the tennis ball languidly floated. She was biding her time until the ball got close enough to shore that she could capture it again—without swimming.

Smart doggy, eh?

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After a while we decided to explore some new places. Walking briefly through a grassy field, we headed for some cottonwood trees and soon found a different access point to the same channel. This part of the channel was more shallow than the other portion, which Rain was more comfortable with. When she wasn’t ankle-deep in mud, she walked around in the shallow water, biting at the splashes she made. Rain got to enjoy the natural smell of a muddy riverbank and do some more ball fetching before we pressed onward once again.

Eventually we discovered the Maya Lin bird blind ensconced in the forested area and stopped to appreciate the species information carved into each of the vertical pieces that made up the structure. Well okay—we human companions stopped to appreciate the structure. Rain was ready to explore the next thing as soon as we came to the dead end where the bird blind sat!

We pressed on along the same trail and ended up in a meadow thick with teasel, thistle, sweet pea, and other flowers. The teasel was about eight feet tall at points, dwarfing our expedition party!

Soon we headed back the way we came. Rain was getting wound up again, barking when we started encountering humans along the trail.

Once we got to the open field I brought out Rain’s new ball and we played fetch for several minutes. I threw the ball along the trail, but it would frequently bounce into the shin-high grasses. Rain had no problem finding the ball, but soon I needed to pick a grass seed out of the crux of her eye.

After Rain had plenty of fetching, we made the final push back to the parking lot and headed home. She hadn’t wanted to get in the car to leave home, but she had no problem getting back in the car for our return trip. That usually signals a sufficiently exercised Rain.

Back at home, we started discovering tons of dried grass seeds and awls in our shoes and socks. Rain was scratching a lot too, and each time I tended to her I found a grass awl in the very deepest part of her undercoat. They’re difficult to pick out, and they caused her as much grief as they were causing me! If you’re not aware, grass awls and foxtails can do some serious damage to a dog.

Grassy mementos aside, Rain enjoyed her outing so much that she snoozed much of the afternoon and was pretty calm the rest of the day. In other words, she had a great time being a dog in the park made just for her! Doggy heaven.

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