Life With the Little Doggies

What if you could spend your days with little doggies?  Karin Cornwall really can answer this best, as the owner/operator of Little Paws’ Big AdventuresSafe Walks For Small Dogs!

Recently, I noticed that Karin organized a special gathering at Joaquin Miller Park’s dog run.  I thought there must be something really interesting, not to mention fun, about this small-dog life.

So I asked Karin – yes, that human on the left – to share a typical day with her charges.  It almost sounds like a bunch of kids learning the ropes at Redwood Regional Park, and here’s the run-down:

Well it was so warm that I hosed down the long haired dogs before our walk.  And boy am I glad I did, because by the end of it you would have never known they were soaked just an hour before.  Blue and Bonner looked like they had just gotten out of a blow dryer.

We walked on the West Ridge Trail at Redwood Park.  At the moment it is closed, as the folks at the park are working on removing dead trees and and dead branches so that they won’t fall on us while we’re hiking.  Normally it’s our go-to-trail on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  West Ridge Trail is always shady, has some interesting topography and lots of places for the energetic dogs in our groups to run amok.

Blue drank water for the first time ever from a bowl on a walk. In the past she has drunk from a creek, but never from a water bottle, my hand, or a bowl.

PJ did better with staying with the group and was off leash for the first leg of the walk yesterday. After our second water break, I leashed him back up for the way home, because he wasn’t responding from just two feet away.

Bonner is doing terrific off leash!  He’s staying with the group.  Attempting to get Parker to play with him, although I think he’d do better to egg on Blue.

Parker is playing fetch and not letting anyone else near “his” pine cone.  All the same, Bonner gets a kick out of chasing Parker while he chases his pine cone.

Karin says she still has a few open spots on her walks each weekday, and would love to fill up with friendly, well-mannered small dogs.  She serves neighborhoods bordering Highway 13 in Oakland.  Visit the LBPA website or call (510) 529-5565 for more info.

Thanks Karin, and I look forward to reporting on different dog-friendly hikes in the area.  Everyone needs a little inspiration about where to take their beloved pooches or meet (and temporarily adopt) a few while walking along the trails.

Guided Intros To The Parks

Montclarions are split between the walkers and non-walkers.  If you are a non-walker but curious about seeing the trails, then here’s your chance to join a guided introduction.

Stress-free walks are scheduled this weekend and next.  You are even encouraged to bring your kids along, if they are in grade school or older.  Hopefully, the temps will be comfortable while wandering in the trees or on the ridge tops.

First Intro:  Volcanoes, Quarries and Labyrinths – Takes place at Sibley Volcanic Preserve (map) this Sunday, August 3rd, from 1:30 – 4:00pm – Free.

Explore the remnants of an extinct volcano, exposed in places by years of quarrying and decorated by artists building labyrinths.  Keep your eyes skyward for golden eagles. Moderate hike.  For 8+ yrs.  This is a drop in program; no registration is required.  For info, call: (510) 521-6887.

Second Intro:  Up-Down & All-Around Walk – Takes place at Redwood Regional Park (map) next Saturday, August 9th, from 2:30 – 4:30pm – Free.

We’ll hike from the top of the Ridge to the creek and back as we enjoy the redwoods and their varied past. Plan for up and down hill on this somewhat shady walk.  For 6+ yrs.  This is a drop in program; no registration is required.  For info, call: (510) 521-6887.

Third Intro:  Redwoods To the Cosmos – Takes place at Redwood Regional Park and Chabot Observatory (map) next Sunday, August 10th, from 9:00 – 11:00am (Cosmos) or from 1:30 – 2:30pm (Tykes) – Fees.

Earth and sky unite in an outing that is out of this world. High in the hills of Oakland, hike the redwood laced trails to hidden, historic sites. Experience the ecosystem by walking through the beautiful, shady paths of Redwood Regional Park. Then explore the cosmos at Chabot with hands-on interactive exhibits and displays and be amazed how your child’s universe can expand in one excursion!  ‘Redwoods to the Cosmos Hike’  is 8+ yrs, while ‘Little Tyke Family Hike’ is 5+ yrs.  Fees: $5 plus General Admission to Chabot.  For info and registration call: (510) 336-7373.

Who Painted The Dogs?

Stefen did!  He’s a terrific Berkeley muralist who creates art on a grand scale.

For the Thornhill Pet Hospital (map), Stefen painted “Kirkwood Lake” on the side of the hospital.  There you see this pristine, Tahoe-inspired mountain lake – and feel like hanging out with the lucky dog who’s relaxing nearby.

Several pets then greet you at the hospital door, except for the retriever who’s jumping up and surely can’t wait for someone to let him inside.

Whenever I’m hitting the 7-Eleven next door, these murals make me smile and escape from Oakland.  If you aren’t from this part of town, take a quick drive and admire Stefen’s building art too.

That Pharmacy On The Fault

Montclair Pharmacy’s been around since 1936, and at this La Salle location (map) since 1957.  I’m not a native villager, but am loyal to this pharmacy for my drugstore needs.  It just seems like the right place to go, with staff who have been around the block.

A few years ago, these guys came to my rescue when I was dealing with sciatica.  As I hopped down the aisles writhing in pain, they made the prescription and home-delivery process easy.

Their matter-of-fact approach was important, because I couldn’t drive and was in dire need.  The delivery person arrived quickly and, as a fellow sciatica sufferer, brought a little more empathy too.

I’m sure the other pharmacy options in town are fine.  Yet given the chance, I’ll always favor the independent Montclair Pharmacy in this era of chains-are-everything.  It feels better to visit pharmacist Bill Sullivan, who’s been here since the store opened 51 years ago.

The first time I set foot in this place, I wasn’t needy at all.  I simply wanted to kill a little time, and stopped by to inspect the travel books on hand.

Instead, I engaged in friendly banter with the shopkeeper about the Hayward Fault.  While he’s likely shared the geological markers over and over, he took the time to point out the 1989-era crack running through the store and across La Salle.  All part of the charm, I think.

Neighbors Unite Through MONS

Where is your MONS?  To prepare for calamities of all types, Montclarions have been organizing into hyper-local groups called “Montclair Organized Neighborhoods” or MONS for short.  These are groups of roughly 30 households that get organized to look out for each other.

According to Doug Mosher, there are already 50 groups and new groups are joining up.  He has even mapped many of their detailed locations.  Since this is a Google map, you can find out whether you’re specifically included in a group or organize one yourself.

If there’s mud, quakes, fires, crimes, plagues or pestilence, your neighborhood group would be the best place to turn.  By organizing beforehand, you also have a built-in excuse to meet nearby neighbors – something we all did in earlier eras but need a push these days.

Each neighborhood organizes for slightly different reasons, and generally aims to “beef up their ability to prepare and respond to natural disasters and emergencies, deter crime, clean up and beautify the neighborhood, and socialize.”  For more MONS info, check out these guides and links.

MONS are also part of Oakland’s CORE or “Citizens of Oakland Respond to Emergencies” groups.  After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the Oakland Fire Department knew it would be impossible to respond directly to everyone’s needs – and created this organization to teach Oaklanders what to do.

While admittedly a “manana person,” I found the MONS and CORE materials to be very practical.  For example, they advise you to share rosters/names of neighbors, including utility shut-off locations.  They also encourage you to share tools and resources.

These experts have thought about everything, including my favorite emergency preparedness lists for dogs and cats too!