|Parking lot entrance for Riverbend Beach|
Driving into the Riverbend parking lot, I thought, “Okay, now this is much more like LA dog parks.” At an acre, it’s a little bigger, but still… a flat, dirty fenced-in area with no grass. No exercise required by the owner. You can just stand in one corner like a vertical couch potato and watch your dog be a dog with other dogs.
But then I looked towards the river (the park is next to the Deschutes). Beyond the fence, I saw a second much smaller fenced area, right on the river.
Aha, so that’s the “beach” I’d heard about. And by beach, I mean rocky river bank — big rocks, not pebbles. Owners were sitting on the rocks and dogs were swimming chasing balls and toys (many of which floated away. “Get it Henry, get it! Get your toy! Henry! Fetch! Fetch, Henry, Fetch. Henry!!! Well, shit, Henry. There goes your toy.”)
Betty isn’t much of a swimmer, so the “beach” quickly lost it’s luster. After watching a few tennis balls float away, we leashed up and followed the balls, down river towards the Old Mill district.
|Heading down river|
|Crossing the Old Mill footbridge|
We crossed the footbridge near the amphitheater and headed north. Nice walk. We took a little stroll through a swampy Orvis Casting Course. Betty chose this spot to take a drink while I wasn’t paying attention. Not the fresher river water. No, she wanted a delicious sip from stagnant mosquito breeding grounds. I’m pretty sure she had to chew while drinking. Dogs. (Note to self: Giardia test for Betty, ASAP.)
|The Orvis Casting Swamp, er, Course|
We eventually circled back and Betty, once again, turned up her nose at the beach (and the fresh river water). We’ll have to work on the whole swimming thing next summer.
Riverbend has a few things going for it.
First, if you have a water dog, this is the “legal” place to let your dog swim. But assuming your dog is well-behaved and smart enough to come back to you, there are tons of swimming holes along the river. Not a bad option to have though. And while dogs don’t seem to socialize much when it comes to swimming, it was kind of fun to watch them all play in the water and to watch their owners attempt to coax them into retrieving quickly vanishing toys when the dogs lost interest.
Second, location, location, location. Positioned on the Deschutes River trail, you may not drive to Riverbend Beach for the acre of dirt or the tiny, rock “beach” but it’s a fine place to stop during a long walk along the river.
A couple of years ago, the first time I walked the river trail through the Old Mill district, I heard a little voice in my head: “You could live here…” I ignored this, as I do most voices I hear in my head, but it was the beginning. And for that reason, even though it’s not the nicest or grassiest (um, zero grass), or most exciting dog park, Riverbend will always make me smile.