‘Tis the season for all things haunted, so why not evoke some ghostly spirits with your Cabernet? Delightfully secluded at the end of a long, winding drive off the Silverado Trail, Regusci is one of Napa Valley's “ghost wineries,” a term given to a handful of resurrected facilities built between 1860 and 1900, before disease, Prohibition and the Great Depression decimated the valley's early wine-grape industry. The buttery-stone facade of the cellar dates to 1878, but the dog-friendly tasting room is elegantly modern. You and Fido are welcome to belly up to the bar or picnic on the shaded grounds, where you're likely to be greeted by a Welsh Corgi named Trixie or a half-dozen other winery dogs. Just please, heed the sign and don't feed them!
Want more? Another ghost winery that welcomes DogTrekkers is Chateau Montelena, established in 1882 at the base of Mount St. Helena. Dogs can’t come inside, but if you buy a bottle you can enjoy it on the beautifully landscaped grounds surrounding the winery’s aptly named Jade Lake. Or, pay a visit to Flora Springs Vineyard, which—just in time for Halloween—has released a 2009 Ghost Winery Malbec. Appropriately enough, it comes in a box shaped like a coffin. And yes, dogs are welcome in the tasting room. Just watch out for bats.
Canine costume events are popping up like pumpkins all over Northern California, and you won't have to drive far to find one. Most benefit a good cause, meaning you don’t have to feel bad about dressing your dog up like the devil he sometimes can be. Here’s our short list of Halloween pet events; click here to find many more.
On Friday, the place to be with your gussied-up pooch is Paws & Claws in Oakland, where the 8th Annual Dimond Howl-o-Ween Pet Parade at 6 p.m. will be followed by an outdoor party with campfire and raffle prizes. (A $5 donation benefits ODOG, an all volunteer group that advocates for more dog parks and off-leash space in the East Bay.)
On Saturday, head to Point Isabel Regional Shoreline for Barktoberfest, an annual event highlighted by a costume parade and contest featuring prizes from local merchants. Also on Saturday, the 25th Annual Piedmont Avenue Halloween Celebration in Oakland will be include a 1 p.m. costume parade for dogs and people, a “human-dog duo” costume contest and a party at the Paws On Piedmont store. (Proceeds go to the Maine Coon cat rescue group, which will have a photo booth at Piedmont Plaza in the afternoon.)
Topping off Saturday celebrations, Topel Tasting Room in Healdsburg celebrates its fourth annual Dogtoberfest, a benefit for the Healdsburg Animal Shelter featuring a pet-portraitist, a dog psychic, waived tasting fees, live music and release of a 2012 calendar showcasing photos submitted by winery visitors.
And there’s more! At 3 p.m. Sunday, AnnaBee’s Doggie Boutique & Cafe in Pacifica is sponsoring a Spook-tacular Doggy Costume Contest and Party featuring prizes for most creative, scariest and best human/pet coordinating costumes. In San Francisco, pet-friendly Kimpton Hotels is hosting A Very Fashionable Howl-o-Ween event at 3 p.m. on the lawn of the Argonaut Hotel. It too includes prizes for the best costumes on critters with wet noses.
Photos: "Howl-A-Ween" - Paws & Claws, Oakland
"Joy the Devil Dog" - Deborah Frane
Remember Heidi? Her family members did, and commemorated their beloved collie's life with a headstone at the Presidio Pet Cemetery, final resting place of hundreds of animals owned by soldiers and families stationed at this famous San Francisco military post. Once shaded by ghostly Monterey pines, the half-acre plot surrounded by a white fence has succumbed to progress in the name of highway construction. But while some 500 trees have been felled and traffic roars on Doyle Avenue overhead, the 400-plus headstones commemorating family companions from dogs to goldfish still prompt contemplation. Long-term stewardship is assured through community-based volunteer efforts.
For another blast from the past, visit the eerie ruins of Sutro Baths, where you and Fluffy can clamber over the crumbling ruins of a once-grand facility that, in its 1890s heyday, boasted 500 dressing rooms, seven swimming pools, an amphitheater seating 3,700 and three restaurants accommodating 1,000 people.
Another Fido-friendly haunt is Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park, ranked by Haunted America Tours as one of the 10 most haunted places in California. Curious about other places in San Francisco said to be frequented by specters? Well-behaved canine companions are allowed to tag along on highly-rated Haunted Haight walking tours this weekend and on other selected dates.
Yes, it’s official . . . the former Canine Ambassador of Mendocino County has been named Director of Barketing! DogTrekker’s Research Lab, Kayla, recently traveled to the town of Philo in the Anderson Valley for a meet and greet with Hairy and to extend DogTrekker’s Paw of Approval.
As profiled in DogTrekker’s May 4, 2011 newsletter, Wine, Waves, Wilderness, Hairy Putter, a Cairn terrier (the same breed as Toto in the Wizard of Oz) travels the county with uprights in tow, sniffing out the most pet-friendly lodging, dining, shopping, attractions and activities. It’s all reported in first-person on Hairy’s Blog. “It is with plenty of tail-wagging excitement that, as Director of Barketing for Visit Mendocino County, I will be able to extend the paws of hospitality on behalf of the county to the world,” barks Hairy.
Just a couple hours north of San Francisco, Mendocino County is rich with experiences that you and your four-legged friend can share year-round. Whether you and your pooch are headed up Highway 101 north through Hopland, or choose to wind through the Anderson Valley to the coast on Highway 128, you’ll find the county to truly be pet-passionate. Hairy has prepared a complete guide to everything dog that can be downloaded here.
What’s Halloween without a visit to a pumpkin patch? The most prominent one in our area offers so many family activities you might as well pack up the kids (and dog, of course) and make a day of it. Cool Patch Pumpkins on Interstate 80 near Dixon, right by the landmark Milk Farm sign, has it all: A “Kid Zone” with corn bath, straw mountain a kiddie maze; a pumpkin patch with more than 2,000 gourds that are yours for the picking; a scarecrow contest area and—tah-dah!—the Largest Corn Maze in the World at 45 acres. It’s open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Nov. 6. And yes, leashed dogs are welcome.
Photo: "Big Pumpkin" - Cool Patch Pumpkins
There's a reason Labrador retrievers are the most popular dog breed in America. You probably have met many representatives of this gentle, intelligent, family-loving breed, or even or been loved by one. Yet all dogs, even the most undemanding, require an ongoing commitment of time, money, exercise, discipline and affection. And sometimes, life intervenes to make it impossible for people to care for or keep their pets.
That's where Golden Gate Labrador Retriever Rescue comes in. GGLRR is dedicated to finding homes for Labs in need and matching people with just the right canine companion. Visit the website at www.labrescue.org to read about the adoption process on the How to Adopt page, or see Labs looking for homes and those recently adopted under Labs Available. To get the process rolling, contact a local representative by going the Contact page. Reps are available to talk about the adoption process, introduce you to dogs available for adoption and begin the process of matching an available dog to a forever home.
Currently in foster care is Jinx, who was found as a stray and brought to the Martinez shelter. The staff recognized her sweet temperament, and called Lab Rescue; her calm, easy-going nature has helped her to fit right in with her Foster's three dogs. Her Foster Mom says: "How this girl ended up as a stray is a mystery! She has clearly been in a loving home before. She is fully house-trained, respectful and responsive, and all-around low-maintenance. She is equally happy snoozing next to her person, plopping down with a toy on the nearest available dog bed, or sunning on the grass in the yard, holding a ball or toy." This active senior girl would be a wonderful companion for a couple or individual working from home, or a great "starter dog" for a busy, young, Lab-loving family or first-time dog owner. Jinx is located in San Jose. If you are interested in meeting this mellow, affectionate girl, and giving her the safe, loving home she deserves, please contact GGLRR Rep Liz at 415-898-9402.
"Joy the Devil Dog" - Deborah Frane
"Howl-A-Ween" - Paws & Claws, Oakland
"Big Pumpkin" - Cool Patch Pumpkins
"Jinx" - Golden Gate Labrador Retriever Rescue