Doggy Day Hikes: 4 Things to Pack

For the last few weeks, the weather here on Long Island has fluctuated from being comfortable to extremely humid. On very humid days, Emma refuses to walk anywhere, and I don’t blame her. I’m not a fan of the humidity or higher temps either, unless of course I’m doing hot yoga. So, whenever the weather is more agreeable, Emma and I will be out and about early to enjoy the outdoors.

There are plenty of places to hike/walk with your dog on Long Island. (I’ve mentioned a few in previous posts.) But sometimes, Emma and I just like taking a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood or into town, which is a good one-mile walk each way.

When venturing out with Emma, especially in this weather, I make sure to pack the essentials to help keep her comfortable and hydrated:

  • Water. And plenty of it! In summer (and winter, too), I carry a bottle of water with a small collapsible bowl. Dogs can get dehydrated quicker than humans, especially in warmer weather, so they need constant access to water. If we drive to a hiking trail, I leave a small cooler in the car with extra bottles in case we need more. (No matter where you take your dog, always remember to provide fresh, cool water to prevent dehydration.)
  • Treats. Long walks/hikes require “special” treats. Emma likes boiled chicken, apples and pears. I store them fresh in a small Ziploc bag. But she’s not the only one who gets goodies on our day trips. I’ll always bring along a snack (fruit/veggies/peanut butter) for myself, usually something I can share with Emma, so it’s less to carry.
  • Sunscreen and flea spray. Westies have very sensitive skin, and I keep this in mind when we are outdoors for any length of time. Before we hit the trails, I’ll spray a special sunscreen on Emma that can be easily washed out. And if we are walking in wooded areas, I will definitely spray bug/flea spray on her to keep the flea and ticks at bay. Then, once we get home, it’s bath time!
  • Paper towels, paw wipes and misc. At some point on the walk, I know I’ll have to clean up after Emma or use paw wipes, as trails can get dusty or muddy, depending on the weather. No matter where I go, I always bring hand wipes and sanitizer (yes, I’m a germaphobe). I also carry a few small Ziploc bags in case I have to throw out paw wipes or a poop bag and there’s no trash can in sight. The Ziploc bags help keep the odor at bay.

Planning a hike? What do you pack for your dog? Tell me about it in the comments section and enjoy the walk!

Doggy Day Trips—Old Westbury Gardens

img_7860Old Westbury Gardens has always been my absolute favorite escape on Long Island. It is the perfect place to unwind, relax and enjoy nature. As a child, I would go off exploring all that the Gardens has to offer—the thatched cottage, East Lake, the Walled Garden, nature paths and everything else in between—pretending that I lived in Westbury House and the gardens were all mine! It almost felt like I stepped back time, especially when walking through the house.

As the years passed, my love for Old Westbury Gardens grew. Every weekend, my mom and I would take a couple of lawn chairs, pack a picnic and our favorite books and spend an entire day under the shade of one of the massive breezy beech trees or find the perfect spot somewhere near the lake.

No matter the season, there’s always plenty to enjoy—from chamber music in the Red Ballroom and the summer Picnic Pops concerts to yoga on the lawn and members-only events and more. Some of my favorite memories have been from Old Westbury Gardens.

When Emma arrived on the scene, my mom and I felt guilty we couldn’t bring her to enjoy our favorite getaway. Then, shortly thereafter, we were excited to discover the Gardens began a new tradition—Dog Days! Twice a year, visitors are allowed to bring their canine companions to walk the gardens, do some canine shopping, participate in fun activities, meet animal rescue groups, and more.

Last month, when I took Emma to the first Dog Days weekend of 2018, it was a bit more crowded than usual, as they were undergoing landscaping renovations. Portions of the Gardens were closed; but it didn’t deter us from having a fun time. We had perfect weather, which always helps to add to the joy of the day. (Dog Day Festival Weekends are usually slated for spring (April) and fall (Sept/Oct), so be sure to check their calendar of events.)

Regardless of whether you have a dog or not, spending a day at the Gardens is certainly worth the trip. There are year-round activities; and if you become a member, you’ll receive extra perks, discounts and members-only events. Old Westbury Gardens is easily accessible by both Northern State Parkway and the LIE (I-495).

Let me know if you visit—or attend the next Dog Days! Emma and I will be on the lookout for you.

Doggy Day Trips: Long Island’s Sands Point Preserve

img_7565Even though Long Island was hit with a few snow storms since the official beginning of “spring,” I took advantage of a nice day last weekend to take Emma on a day trip. (Thankfully, all the snow melted quickly.) When the weather is nice, we both love being outdoors. One of our favorite places to visit is dog-friendly Sands Point Preserve on the original Guggenheim Estate.

The Preserve has six hiking trails that start at a quarter-mile, or you can loop all the trails together and walk for several miles. On our favorite trail, there’s a spot that overlooks the beach and the Long Island Sound. It’s the perfect spot for a photo on a sunny day.

Some of the trails are not shaded, so if you go in warmer months, be sure to go first thing in the morning and take plenty of water for your dog. (If hiking isn’t your thing and you want to leave your pooch home, the Preserve does have other year-round activities and events.)

We visit the Preserve year-round, and each time we go, the terrain can be different—dry, muddy, snowy, icy, depending on the previous day’s (or week’s) weather. I usually stay away from the trails after it has just rained or snowed. That can make for messy or dangerous conditions.

The Preserve is located on the North Shore of Long Island in Nassau County and is fairly easy to get to off the LIE (I-495) or Northern State Parkway. It costs $10 for the day and is worth every cent.

Do you have a favorite spot to hike with your dog?

Doggy Day Trips: North Hempstead Beach Park

fullsizeoutput_34acBefore New York’s fourth Nor’easter hit this week (and here I thought spring arrived), I took Emma over to North Hempstead Beach Park, formerly Bar Beach. It has a special meaning for me—it’s the place where my parents met a bazillion years ago—but has become a place that I love to go with Emma since they now allow dogs!

The day that we went, it was extremely windy, but we got to enjoy a long walk back and forth on the promenade, breathe in the salty, sea air and soak in the warm sun, thanks to the cloudless blue skies. Emma and I love the cold, but the 20-degree wind chills were enough to send us home after an hour!

BarBeach2018This park is one of our year-round favorites, especially in cooler months when there aren’t many people there—and we don’t have to worry about the scorching weather. But because it’s right there on the water, there’s not a lot of shade on the promenade. So, if you go in warmer months, be sure to go first thing in the morning or at dusk so the concrete is cooler for your dog’s paws. They have a shaded picnic area, which can be fun in warmer months; but it does get crowded.

The park is free to enter in the off-season, and a season pass (Memorial Day through Labor Day) will cost you $50.