Joan Merriam: Out and about with your dog |

Joan Merriam: Out and about with your dog

Some local hot spots that are pet freindly will let you share a meal with your canine companion.
Contributed by Pixabay |

As “dog people,” we love spending time with our furry friends. And if you’re anything like me, you love taking your pup with you whenever you go out: hiking, visiting, on vacation or just taking a ride through our beautiful region.

We’re fortunate that there are so many local places that are dog-friendly, which means you really can take your pal with you when you’re out and about, running errands, shopping or doing something special. Let’s take a look at some of those canine-compatible spots.

Cool, calm and collected

First things first, however: whenever you’re with other people, you need to be absolutely certain that your dog is calm, respectful and well-trained. Whether you’re on the street or in the local hardware store, there’s nothing more alarming than finding yourself face-to-face with a snarling, aggressive, 95-pound beast lunging at the end of a leash. (For that matter, it can be equally upsetting when it’s a tiny Chihuahua terrorizing you and your peaceable pup — it’s just not quite as hazardous to your health.)

Make sure your dog is leash-trained, understands basic commands, is comfortable around people, can handle unexpected noises and most important of all, actually enjoys being out in public. If you see your dog exhibiting any signs of anxiety like darting eyes, cowering, incessant panting or laid-back ears, head for home at once. It’s not fair put your dog in frightening situations he/she can’t escape — and it could lead to a fear response like lashing out at people or another dog.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s essential that if your dog has an “accident” in a public place, you either clean it up yourself immediately or alert an employee. People who just ignore and walk away from their dog’s mess only make it more likely that the owner will eventually post a ”No Dogs Allowed” sign on the front door.

Local hot spots

So, where are some of the local places your dog can tag along with you? You probably wouldn’t hesitate to take your dog to our pet stores — in fact, whether you’re in California or Connecticut, I can’t imagine that any pet shop would prohibit your dog.

Most home and garden centers also welcome leashed, well-behaved dogs. Joey especially likes going into our local hardware stores because all the clerks recognize him and shower him with hugs and pets (and treats.) The same is true of our neighborhood nurseries, which I’ve found to be very welcoming to dogs.

The streets of downtown Nevada City, Grass Valley and Truckee are famously dog-friendly, with several stores offering water bowls outside their doors. Some may even accept dogs inside, but be sure to ask first.

Feeling hungry or thirsty? Many patio-enhanced restaurants, coffee shops and bars allow dogs. But it’s always a good idea to call first before you go. Among these dog-friendly spots in Grass Valley and Nevada City are Bubba’s Bagels, Sergio’s, Tofanelli’s, Ike’s Quarter Café, Summer Thyme’s, Flour Garden, Starbuck’s, Diego’s, Matteo’s Public, Cousin Jack’s Pasties, Harmony Ridge Market, California Organics, Briar Patch, Three Forks Bakery & Brewing and ol’ Republic Brewery. (And hopefully, once ol’ Republic opens at the Old Five Mile House, they’ll also welcome dogs in their patio garden.)

In Penn Valley, the Blue Cow Deli always allows dogs on their front patio. Truckee’s dog-friendly outside dining includes Moody’s, Jax at the Tracks, Fifty-Fifty Brewing Company, Cottonwood, Backyard Bar & Barbecue and Burger Me.

Looking for a place where your furry pal can play with other dogs off-leash? Grass Valley has the Dogs Run Free dog park within Condon Park. While in Penn Valley, there’s Western Gateway Dog Park, located at the northwest end of Western Gateway Park. (You can also walk your leashed dog in both parks in permitted areas.)

Nature walks

If you’re in the mood for a walk in the woods but don’t want to trek out of town, Empire Mine State Historic Park is the perfect spot. Located just blocks from downtown Grass Valley, this 850-acre park boasts miles of hiking trails through some truly spectacular woodlands, plus dozens of spots where you can take a break or even picnic. Just remember that your dog must be leashed at all times within the park.

You can find a wealth of places to hike with your dog all over Nevada County, with some trails close to town like Grass Valley’s Empire Mine and Nevada City’s Deer Creek Tribute Trail, while others are farther afield. The best place to discover these trails is the Bear Yuba Land Trust’s website at They list trails from Alta Sierra to the Yuba River and beyond, complete with information about trail length, degree of difficulty, accessibility and rules about whether or not your dog needs to be leashed.

So whether you’re in the mood for a walk in the woods, sipping a glass of wine or a steaming latté, checking out the downtown storefronts, picking up some 2x4s at the lumber store or enjoying a leisurely dinner on a lovely patio, there are countless places right around the corner where your good dog will be just as welcome as you are.

Joan Merriam lives in Nevada County with her Golden Retriever Joey, her Maine Coon cat Indy, and the abiding spirit of her beloved Golden Retriever Casey in whose memory this column is named. You can reach Joan at And if you’re looking for a Golden, be sure to check out Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue.

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