– President Harry Truman

By Janet McAfee

It certainly is true that our companion animals provide us with needed love, loyalty, and companionship. Our pets are happier and healthier when they spend more quality time with us.

Your dog may provide an excellent reason for you to get some fresh air and exercise. We are now blessed with beautiful Spring weather, the perfect time of year to enjoy walking and hiking in the Coachella Valley. Our canine pals love being included in our activities, and exploring nature with Fido makes excursions more enjoyable for us humans. Both humans and dogs get to exercise, get some healthy fresh air, and spend some quality time together. A well exercised dog works off excess energy and is less likely to have behavior problems back home.

Assess your dog’s readiness for hiking – Before heading out, evaluate your dog’s level of fitness. If he is elderly or overweight, it is best to stick to walks around your neighborhood. Remember that dogs are “people pleasers” and will push beyond their level of endurance to please you and keep up. Keep him on a leash at all times as required by law. Make sure your dog knows the most important command of all, “Fido (his name) Come!” in case he gets loose.


Approaching other dogs – When you meet other hikers or dog walkers, ask permission for your dog to meet theirs. Walking your dog is a great way to meet other wonderful people.

Needed supplies – Your dog can help carry some of the needed supplies in his own special backpack. A healthy dog can carry up to 25% of his own weigh, however some breeds with long backs such as dachshunds may not be able to carry much. You need to bring along enough water for both of you, with a collapsible bowl to serve your pup. Give him plenty of water during the excursion because dogs become dehydrated quickly. Water in streams, lakes, and drains may contain parasites and viruses. Bring high quality treats to keep up Fido’s energy level.

Plan Ahead – Make sure your destination permits dogs on trails. Most United States national parks do not allow dogs on trails. The book “140 Great Hikes in and near Palm Springs” provides a list of local trails that permit dogs to accompany hikers. If the area is crowded with other hikers and walkers, go to a less populated location to keep yourself safe.

Dog Walking Etiquette – Do not allow your dog to roam free without a leash! You could violate leash laws in your jurisdiction. Don’t allow your dog to lunge toward other dogs you encounter. Use those poop bags to pick up your pet’s waste.

Dog Beaches – You can escape the Coachella Valley for an enjoyable day at one of the dog beaches in Southern California. Most popular is the dog beach in Ocean Beach, located at the foot of Voltaire Street. Tucked away near the Del Mar racetrack is Solana Beach, a lovely spot that allows dogs from September 15 through June 15. The Huntington Beach Dog Beach is another great place. It’s almost surreal to see the dogs happily frolicking in the ocean while the people sit on the sand watching them.

Car Rides – Almost all dogs love to travel, and most of them get excited when they hear your car keys jingle. Explore some of our beautiful Southern California scenery and visit new locations. Trips to local outdoor restaurants that welcome dogs is a treat for you both. More local businesses are becoming pet friendly, with the exception being those that serve food indoors.

Are you still “dogless” in the desert? This might be the best time ever to adopt a wonderful rescue dog or cat. They help reduce stress and loneliness, and their loving and loyal presence has numerous physical health benefits.

Our local county shelter, the Coachella Valley Animal Campus, is the largest local animal shelter with dogs, puppies, cats and kittens waiting to meet you. View their wonderful animals online at www.rcdas.org, and reach them by phone at (760) 343-364. They are located at 72050 Pet Land Place in Thousand Palms.