BEND, Ore. — Seattle may be dog crazy, but it’s got nothing on Bend Oregon, especially in winter. There's no better time and place to be a dog than this Central Oregon town during 'Off Leash Season'.
"So there's a series of parks that during the summer months we demand leashes, and then coming into the fall we go into 'Off Leash Season' and dogs get to run wild,” said Visit Bend’s executive director Kevney Dugan. "That's their party time."
Winter means freedom to four legged friends in this town - and word is getting out:
“As more dog owners and people visiting with dogs have come, Off Leash Season has become more of a thing,” Dugan said. But really, any time of year is a good time to be a dog in Bend:
Not only do they get to run free at leash optional forest areas with miles of trails like Rimrock -also known as 'Good Dog' Park.
They're also welcome to relax at many of Bend’s eateries and breweries.
"Yeah, a lot of our local restaurants have outdoor seating and are dog friendly,” Dugan said.
Some dogs even get to go to work with their people. You can often find Odin -a German Shepherd and the town’s unofficial greeter - at Bend's Visitor Center. Of course Duvney's dog Lily often hangs out there as well.
There are packs of pups in other work places as well:
“It's kind of a mountain town culture thing,” Dugan said.
Bend dogs can even shop locally for their outdoor gear:
Ruffwear is a Bend-based company that's been outfitting pooches in performance gear for more than 25 years.
"We've been referred to as the Patagonia of the dog world by people,” said Will Blount, Ruffwear’s president. Water repellent coats, harnesses with grab handles, and doggo hiking boots are among Ruffwear's best sellers.
Side note - getting your dog shoes is pretty good entertainment, even if you don't plan on hitting the trail, because the high stepping that ensues after dogs don this footwear is pretty funny to watch. There’s even a name for the move: The Bootydance.
All of the four legged friends enjoying the good life in Bend are very lucky dogs. But make no mistake, their humans get something out of this as well. Blount sums it up: "When you see things from a dog's perspective, you learn how to be a kid again. They remind us, they're bold, they're unafraid. I think it’s a reminder of connecting back into nature and playing and having fun.”