Get­ting Out With the Dogs

Our four-legged friends love the out­door life as much as we do

RSWLiving - - PETS - Ann Marie O’Phe­lan is a South­west Florida res­i­dent and reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to TOTI Me­dia. BY ANN MARIE O’PHEL AN

We all know that beaches, parks and pre­serves are great places to en­joy fresh air, get a lit­tle ex­er­cise and maybe even meet a new friend or two. Our four-legged friends feel the same way. In South­west Florida, there is even a spe­cial beach set aside for them: Dog Beach, which is lo­cated at the south end of Lovers Key in Es­tero. It al­lows dogs in the Gulf wa­ters, un­leashed, from sun­rise to sun­set.

Leashed dogs are per­mit­ted on Sani­bel’s beaches. Cap­tiva beaches do not al­low pets, ex­cept for Lee County-owned Turner Beach, on the Cap­tiva side of Blind Pass. Be­cause of lo­gis­tics, Turner Beach is op­er­ated by Sani­bel. Other lo­cal parks and pre­serves with wa­ter ac­cess that al­low leashed dogs in­clude the Cause­way Is­lands on the way to Sani­bel and Galt Pre­serve in St. James City on Pine Is­land.

“Our fam­ily re­ally en­joys go­ing to the beach and our dog is def­i­nitely part of the fam­ily and likes to go, too,” says Janet Wil­son, a com­mu­ni­ca­tions spe­cial­ist with Lee County gov­ern­ment. She and her leashed pooch Charley are reg­u­lars at Turner Beach.

Of course parks al­ways of­fer a great chance to en­joy the out­doors. In Col­lier County, all parks al­low pets on leashes. Ad­di­tion­ally, there is Rover Run Dog Park at Veter­ans Com­mu­nity Park, where large dogs and smaller dogs are sec­tioned off.

“Col­lier County Parks and Recre­ation of­fers many beau­ti­ful parks to spend time with your four-legged friends,” says Daniel Chris­ten­bury, pub­lic in­for­ma­tion co­or­di­na­tor for Col­lier County Pub­lic Ser­vices Oper­a­tions. “While your pets must re­main on a leash, ex­cept for at the ded­i­cated dog park, there is plenty of space for a long hike, bike ride or pic­nic with the whole fam­ily.” (Dogs are not per­mit­ted on Col­lier County beaches.)

Whether you’re tak­ing Homer for a hike, Buddy to the beach or Patches to the pre­serve, it’s im­por­tant to fol­low the rules of the park. Re­mem­ber to take plenty of wa­ter, bags for clean­ing up af­ter your dog, and per­haps a fly­ing disc or ball. It’ll be a real treat for both of you.

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