On any sunny day in West Hollywood, Santa Monica Boulevard between La Cienega and Robertson looks like a snippet from the movie, Best in Show. Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Whippets, Boxers, Papillions, Golden Labradors, Jack Russell Terriers, English Bulldogs, Chihuahuas, and other exotics prance and sniff down the boulevard, leashed to well groomed men and women toting plastic baggies. Many of the pooches pause for refreshment at the dog bowl at Starbucks while their keepers lounge under the umbrellas, sip assorted coffee drinks, trade stories about their beloved canine companions, and attempt to keep doggie friction to a minimum. It is a social ritual, a way for dogs to re-sniff acquaintances, and a way for the humans to meet new people, and hopefully new dates.
Besides the benefits to canine cardiac health, dog walking is an excellent way for humans to meet other attractive dog lovers, especially those that otherwise might be unapproachable. Unfortunately, over-reliance on the beloved pooch to help a lovelorn human find a hookup can result in a bizarre condition referred to in West Hollywood as the Bloody Paw Syndrome, characterized by the lonely human walking their panting poochie around and around the neighborhoods so frequently and for such a long time that its paws begin to bleed.
An alternative to neighborhood dog walking that gets the coveted canine off concrete sidewalks and minimizes paw wear and tear would be the several local dog parks and even nearby beaches dedicated to our furry companions, where they can run on or sometimes off the leash.
The largest, and some say the best, is Runyon Canyon, located adjacent to West Hollywood, a 160 acre park with 90 acres of off-leash dog area, not completely fenced except for a small grassy area at the bottom. The park is on a steep hill with two dirt trails and one paved trail that stretch from top to bottom. Hiking the paved trail takes a little over an hour from bottom to top, and is excellent exercise. There are lots of dogs and people all the time, making it fun for both sociable pooches and humans. There are water fountains for dogs at the bottom only. There are two entrances; the top parking lot/entrance is on Mulholland Drive, approx. five minutes west of the 101 Freeway. The bottom entrance is at 2000 N. Fuller, (the North end of Fuller). Parking is on the street. Open every day from sunrise to sunset.
If you do not feel like a hike, try West Hollywood’s William S. Hart Park, 8341 De Longpre Ave., which also has an off-leash dog area. This park has separate hours for both small and large dogs. Mornings: Small Dogs 7AM – 8AM; Large Dogs 8AM – 9AM; Evenings: Small Dogs 5PM – 6PM; Large Dogs 6PM – 7PM.
If you fantasize about frolicking in the surf with your canine companion, and if a bit of a drive does not phase you, there are two dog beaches in the area. The first is the Long Beach Dog Beach between Roycroft and Argonne avenues in Belmont Shore, in Long Beach, and the second is the Huntington Beach Dog Beach on Pacific Coast Highway between 21st St. and Seapoint St. in Huntington Beach.
Below are a few links to websites that list even more dog parks in the area.