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Archive for the tag “Memorial Park”

Houston Arboretum: Heaven for a Dog’s Senses

The Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is a gift to our city’s children and dogs. It’s certainly a gift to the wildlife that call it home. The entrance is off of Woodway in Memorial Park, and it’s been a favorite spot of mine for years.

Sign at the entrance on Woodway

Visitor's Center: a must see for kids

My dogs and I hit these trails on each of their birthdays and as often as we can throughout the year. They are allowed a much looser leash here than if we were walking in a neighborhood so that they can experience all the trails have to offer their senses.

What to bring: water, leashes, doggy bags, durable shoes. What to leave at home: Your worries and your to-do list.

A Few Simple Rules: Let your dog's (and your) curiosity run wild, but please don't jog or bike here. Both will scare wildlife.

To help protect plants and wildlife, please stay on the well-maintained paths.

Let's go, Mom!

The Arboretum is extremely well-cared for by volunteers and through donations. The paths are clearly marked, and you can pick one route or switch trails as often as you please.

Signs like this one mark all the different trails

In the spring, you will find a huge field filled with wildflowers. Enjoy the beauty, but please respect them and just admire them from a distance.

One of my favorite things about walking these trails is never knowing what we’ll find. Sometimes we end up walking along the wildflower field, and other times we are slowly walking down a winding path along trickling water. Today, we found a pond filled with turtles.

The boys checking out the action in the pond.

The girls are in sensory overload and not sure what to smell or watch next.

Buckley really wanted to know what was moving in the water. He was fascinated!

The logs in the pond were covered with snoozing turtles.

Any dog trainer will emphasize that an exercised dog is a well-behaved dog. As a pet sitter, I can tell how often a dog is walked before I even get the leash on him, and my guess is only confirmed as we head around the block. When a client tells me that their dog chews shoes, door jams, and their favorite books, it’s clear to me that he is bored and needs more exercise. What I learned through dog psychology books and caring for many dogs, including my own, is that mental exercise can be just as important as physical exercise to a dog.

The Houston Arboretum is exercise for every single one of a dog’s senses. The long strolls 0n winding paths fulfill their need for physical exercise. The sights and sounds of the forest grab their attention. The smells drive their noses wild. There are plants and animals a city dog has never smelled in the Arboretum, thrilling a dog’s sense of smell. As a cautious dog mom, I try to make sure they don’t taste anything but the tiny treats that are in my pocket.

Lily enjoyed smelling this plant, and I stayed close by to make sure she didn't take a bite.

No matter what the season, the Houston Arboretum is always beautiful.

I truly believe that the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is a gift to the city of Houston, particularly children and dogs. Oliver, Buckley, Daisy, and Lily would certainly agree. It is fascinating to watch them discover, smell, watch birds in the trees, and then fall asleep in the car ride home. For me, a sense of calm comes over me while hiking in the Arboretum. It’s probably a mixture of the trees, leaves, and watching my own pack in a more natural state that calms me. Whatever it is, it’s a welcome feeling, and I am always thankful for our trips to the Arboretum.

Oliver and Buckley must see something pretty exciting out there.

Daisy and Lily conducting a tree stump investigation.

To the volunteers and staff at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, my pack and I give you many thanks!

Taking it all in...

 

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Memorial Park: Houston’s Inner Loop Oasis

Memorial Park is known to all Houstonians. Runners love the loop, families enjoy all the picnic areas, and mountain bikers have trails that will fulfill their need for adrenaline. There are numerous soccer and baseball fields, as well as one of Houston’s nicest public golf courses. The tennis courts are also booked from open to close. With all of this activity, can dog lovers and their four-legged children enjoy the park, too? Absolutely!

When I was puppy mom to only Oliver, we often walked the loop that runner’s frequent. The path is just shy of 5k, at 2.88 miles, and it is busy all day. The path is sand and crushed granite, which is great on dog paws. Just be sure to check between your dog’s toes for any tiny rocks later. With just one dog, the loop is great. Two dogs are okay if they walk nicely at your side. Any more than that, and it would be best to walk in other parts of the 600 acre park. Memorial Park runners are notorious for being so focused that any walker, especially one with a dog enjoying all the smells, is very annoying. Be prepared for bad looks, or maybe worse. ¬†This is definitely not the spot for walking on a loose leash. Of course, if you run with your dog this is a great place for you.

There are dog fountains attached to the people fountains every so often along the trail, and there are bowls placed by courteous citizens near the workout station in front of the tennis courts.

Now that I am blessed with four amazing pups, we never set foot on the official loop trail. Today, we visited Memorial Park, and we parked between the baseball fields and tennis courts. We walked across the street from the loop trail, heading towards Woodway/Picnic Ln. The path is wider, winds, and runs along the woods. There is also plenty of grass on one side to walk in if you feel like avoiding the path.

The grassy area is often full of lounging readers and frisbee games on sunny days. My pups and I use it for training purposes. Every 5-10 minutes, or whenever another dog is close by, we walk about fifteen feet into the grass and work on some “Watch” and “Sit” cues. Mixing training and a walk is a great way to break up the walk and make training more exciting.

Oliver and Buckley waiting for their reward for a perfect response to my "Watch!" command in Memorial Park today.

Our favorite spot is the Houston Arboretum, and that wonderful nature trail will get its own post. We go there on each of the dogs’ birthdays, and as often as we can otherwise.

Memorial Park is a must for any active person, dog lover, or family. No matter what you want to do, there is a spot for you. My pups always have a great time on our adventures in this well-cared for park.

For more information on Memorial Park, please visit the city’s website at:¬†http://www.houstontx.gov/abouthouston/exploringmemorial.html

Happy walking!

 

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