Spring is finally here after a long, strange winter of record drought followed by record rain and snow — like the snow and hail that hit just ten days ago! I suspect we’re all looking forward to enjoying the season’s milder and more predictable weather when we can get outside with our dogs without having to think about muddy trails, icy sidewalks, and generally miserable conditions. We live in a wonderful area for doing just that, with virtually endless possibilities, from dog parks to lakes and rivers to friendly city sidewalks to back-country trails.

However, if it’s been a while since you and your pup have been off the couch and you’re considering something more than a stroll around the block, it’s a good idea to visit your vet first to rule out conditions that could limit your dog’s tolerance for exercise.

Joan Merriam: Spring is here

Asking dogs to do a 10-mile hike in the Sierra when they’ve never walked more than 30 minutes would be as foolish as you trying to run a marathon without any training.