Sandy River Delta tends to have a specific type of trash left behind.
Portland was facing a three-day heat wave, and Rain’s agility class had already been rescheduled to an earlier time meaning we wouldn’t be able to make it.
In order to save my own sanity (not wanting a repeat of the extra excitable Rain I had after my trip) I decided that Rain needed an adventure in lieu of going to agility class. Originally I thought I might be able to sneak it in Friday afternoon/evening, but it didn’t work out.
Early the next morning I loaded Rain up the car and headed east.
Rain has visited Sandy River Delta a few times in the past. It’s a ginormous dog park on the eastern edge of Portland, where the Sandy River meets the massive Columbia River. The park is at the westernmost point of the Columbia River Gorge.
Rain’s behavior gave me pause when we first arrived. On leash at the trailhead, she barked at me nonstop as we were inside the vault toilet, then outside she barked at passing dogs and humans. She was drawing a lot of attention to herself.
We headed out though, and she soon piped down in order to start sniffing. When we reached the off-leash point I set her free and she was fully in her element. She ran back and forth, she ran wide circles around me as I walked, and she jumped in every mud puddle we encountered.
Did we play ball? Of course.
It was my hope to visit the portion of the park where dozens of dogs usually play on a gentle beach beside a small channel of the river. When we ascended the berm leading to this doggy paradise, we were sad to see the river level was still high enough to make the area dangerous for Rain. The gently sloping beach was underwater and the current banks were muddy cliffs.
We’ve been to this place enough to know of other river access points, and so we walked to the other side of the park. When we were nearly to the main part of the Sandy River Rain spotted a huge puddle and had plenty of fun splashing around and fetching her ball as other dogs and hikers meandered past. The other access point had higher-than-usual water as well but still offered enough of a slope that Rain was willing to wade in a few feet. She swam once, but not for long. She seemed happier sticking to the places where she could touch the ground, unlike the nearby Labrador retrievers who were halfway across the river fetching sticks.
Once we were done in that portion of the park, we took a new trail and ended up back at the beach we had abandoned. When we were out of the shady cottonwoods and into the wide expanses of grass, I could tell the temperature was starting to rise. Rain and I sat in the shade of one of the few trees in this area. I noticed that Rain was taking a rare respite and I was feeling like I had done a good job wearing her out. Once Rain started getting antsy again we headed back to the trailhead.
When we arrived the parking lot was mostly full. It seems that everyone else had the same idea I had that day but arrived earlier than we did. As we left, the parking area felt pretty deserted. Cognizant of hot asphalt, I did my best to keep Rain from standing in one place too long but she did lift her feet once or twice as I raced to open the back of the vehicle.
It wasn’t until after we had been home a bit and she was licking a paw that I had a look and noticed she had some raw skin on one of her front paw pads. It was at this point I also did the math and realized we had spent three full hours adventuring around the park!
Let’s unpack that stat: Rain is now a senior, at seven years of age. And it still took three hours of running around a huge parcel of land to wear her out! On a really warm day, no less. Aussies were bred to work cattle ranches all day long and I really wish I had the ability to match Rain with the surroundings that would let her use all of her energy all of the time.
It was blissfully quiet that afternoon. Rain did not bark once between the time we got home and later that evening. She still followed me around if I made major moves around the house, but otherwise she was happy lying down and hanging out.