Blogger Tawna and her dog, Bindi.
Blogger Tawna and her dog, Bindi.

Admit it. Your dog kinda runs your life.

That’s okay. He probably does it better than you would, which is why you should listen to your pooch when he suggests your New Year’s resolutions for the coming year. Not only do they guarantee you a plethora of life improvements, but they get you to Bend, Oregon in 2016.

It’s a win/win, but with more tail wagging.

 

Go for more walks

This is my pup’s most frequent request, and I’ve vowed to indulge her in the coming year. Luckily, we live in the dog-friendliest city in America (according to Dog Fancy magazine) and one of its perks is an abundance of dog-friendly spots to stroll.

This time of year, I adore the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, which offers 29,000 acres of wide open space to explore Bend’s unique high desert landscape. You’ll see ancient junipers and craggy lava flows, and the fact that the area is fairly flat and relatively snow-free makes it great for winter hiking.

Your pup loves to walk, whether it's an on-leash stroll around Downtown Bend, or a free-range frolic through the forest.
Your pup loves to walk, whether it’s an on-leash stroll around Downtown Bend, or a free-range frolic through the forest.

But if we’re on a quest for snow, we head to Wanoga SnoPark and hit the dog-friendly snowshoe or cross country ski trails. Bend has seen record-breaking snowfall in late 2015, so you and your pup are guaranteed some quality winter frolicking.

If you’d rather stick close to town, try one of Bend’s off-leash parks. Our personal fave is the Bob Wenger Memorial Off-Leash area, featuring 18 fully-fenced acres filled with trees, grassy fields, and lava outcroppings perfect for scrambling around and exploring. If you’re visiting during winter, bring a little water for your pooch, since the fountains shut down during chilly months.

 

Pee on new things

While I don’t share my dog’s passion for using my bladder to mark new territory, I do relate to her urge for venturing into unfamiliar areas. I’m a fourth-generation Oregonian who’s lived in Bend since 1997, and I’m not even close to running out of new spaces to explore.

You'll find more than a little yellow snow at the dog-friendly trails around Wanoga.
You’ll find more than a little yellow snow at the dog-friendly trails around Wanoga.

The Visit Bend website is a great spot to get ideas for your next adventure. Take some time to peruse our pages devoted to hiking, pet-friendly travel, or winter fun & recreation to scope out new-to-you areas that you and Rover can discover together.

If you’re sentimental about returning to the same places each time you visit Bend, try shaking it up by visiting during a different time of year. Maybe you’ve already explored the Deschutes River Tail between Meadow Camp and Benham Falls at the height of summer, but did you know your pup can run leash-free in that area from mid-September until mid-May?

Likewise, trails in the Three Sisters Wilderness between Todd Lake and the South Sister Climbers’ Trail are leash-free zones from mid-September all the way through mid-July, making fall, spring, and winter a perfect time to let your pup run wild and free.

For more tips on planning Central Oregon adventures with your dog, check out the DogPac website.

 

Bring home more doggie bags

Here’s where you and your dog might have slightly different goals. You want to explore Bend’s amazing restaurants, sampling everything from Asian fusion to Italian to Mexican to dishes with a unique Pacific Northwest fare.

Your dog wants you to do the same thing. He just wants you to eat a couple bites and bring the rest home in a doggie bag.

Yes, your dog would probably love the osso bucco at Jackalope Grill. How about we don't tell him that's what you're having for dinner?
Yes, your dog would probably love the osso bucco at Jackalope Grill. How about we don’t tell him that’s what you’re having for dinner?

Sadly for Rover, that’s unlikely to happen. The food in Bend is second-to-none, with award-winning chefs like Joe Kim of 5 Fusion (a two-time semifinalist for the James Beard Award—one of the only Oregon chefs outside Portland to be nominated for the honor). Ariana Restaurant was named one of the top 100 restaurants in America by Open Table diners, and Trattoria Sbandati was named Restaurant of the Year by readers of The Source Weekly. And these are just a few of the phenomenal dining spots you’ll find in Bend, Oregon.

In other words, you’ll probably clean your plate.

But don’t let that stop you from dining out as much as possible while you’re in Bend. You should add Zydeco to your list, since they offer free housemade doggie biscuits to take home to your four-legged pal. If that’s not enough, stop at Bend Pet Express for another round of treats, including unique offerings like chicken feet and beef thorax (sounds gross, but trust me—my dog loves it). Then grab a pint of Dawg Grog doggie beer so your pooch can wash it all down in style.

 

Don’t work so much

Fido’s motives are clear here. If you’re not at work, odds are good you’re not only more relaxed, but you’re spending time with him.

You want to make your dog happy, right? So make yourself happy, too, by planning a weekend getaway to Bend.

Your dog called. He wants you to blow off work and take him for a walk up Pilot Butte in Bend.
Your dog called. He wants you to blow off work and take him for a walk up Pilot Butte in Bend.

Clip on Fido’s leash for a scenic hike up Pilot Butte. Stroll historic Downtown Bend for a bit of shopping, and you’ll discover most shops let you bring your pup right inside. Be sure to head down Minnesota Avenue for a visit to Bendy Dog, where they sell dog soaps, greeting cards, pooch products, and a huge array of photography and paintings inspired by our four-legged friends.

Then button up Rover’s dog jacket and head out on the Bend Ale Trail where your furry pal can join you by the fire pits at breweries like McMenamins, Crux Fermentation Project, or Good Life.

If you and your pooch need a little time apart, leave him snoozing by the fire for a couple hours at your dog-friendly hotel or vacation home while you ski pristine powder at Mt. Bachelor.

After that, say a great big “thank you” to your four-legged friend. You should probably let him make your resolutions every year.

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