Kayla's first swim of 2015, at Donner Lake
When we asked our readers about their favorite places to share with their senior dogs, The Beach was at the top of the list, and luckily we have quite a few in California. A tide table is your friend here — depending on your preferred activity, conditions may be better at high or low tide. Especially if your four-legged geezer is not one for crowd scenes and blazing sunshine, plan your outing for the early-morning or early-evening hours.
Reader Karianne T. recommends a trip to Davenport Beach in Santa Cruz County, which welcomes on-leash dogs. The surf can be rough and rip currents are a hazard, so be cautious near the water. Low tide is probably your best bet for checking out the tidepools and sniffing around the beach, which, she says, "is packed with dogs on sunny days, has easy stair access, and doesn't have as much of a rip-current threat."
If you seek something a bit more tranquil, the two of you can stay somewhere with its own water access, so a fun splash is right outside your door. Reader Maria M. reports: "The Other Place in Boonville makes for a great weekend getaway. It has its own big pond. My old golden appreciated the flatness of the Buckeye cottage and its surroundings."
Or take that water access to the next level with a houseboat on Lake Shasta or Trinity Lake. You and Molly and a few of your closest friends can enjoy days of swimming, fishing, scoping out some great spots for onshore picnics — or just drop anchor in the perfect spot and do nothing for days.
Don't have that much time? Make a day trip to Lake Del Valle in the hills outside Livermore. On sunny weekends, it's anything but undiscovered, but go on a weekday and you can feel like you've got the whole idyllic place to yourselves. As you head toward Del Valle from Livermore, you can hardly miss the dog-friendly wineries that line Tesla/Mines Road, and plenty of spots to get picnic provisions. Dogs aren't allowed on the swimming beaches, but the off-leash dog run offers gorgeous views and many splashing opportunities. Better yet, dogs are welcome on several models of rental boats, so you and Skipper can weigh anchor and take off exploring. (Also, if you buy a fishing license, you can take advantage of the well-stocked lake.)