March 18, 2015
Exploring a city is much more fun with a four-legged friend in tow, especially when that city is as crazy about dogs as L.A. And while Los Angeles might not seem like an obvious choice for a canine excursion, our pup-friendly guide proves the opposite is true.
For the lowdown on some of the best places to take your hound, we teamed up with Lesley Brog; founder of L.A-based dog re-homing charity Wags and Walks, an organisation that specialise in matching rescue dogs to adoptee humans based on temperament rather than breed.
It is estimated that one in five L.A residents own at least one dog, which means the city is home to no less than 400,000 canines. It’s little wonder therefore that so many hotels, restaurants and shops have decided to open their doors to our furry friends; they’re big business. Despite that, however, L.A’s animal charities and shelters face a constant battle to re-home and care for thousands of dogs each year.
Despite many of L.A’s hounds enjoying a high life of regular hikes, lunch dates and pamperings in doggy salons, others aren’t quite so fortunate. According to Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS), the city’s six animal shelters took in roughly 30,000 dogs between July 2013 and June 2014.
As in any city or town, the reasons for dogs arriving at shelters are many. Some have escaped, whilst others may have owners who are unable or unwilling to care for them. Certain L.A neighbourhoods are also renowned for their high population of stray dogs, which in turn places further strain on the city’s animal shelters.
Such large numbers means it is inevitable that some dogs will be put down, either due to illness or because of difficulties in re-homing them. In order to address this issue, LAAS devised a plan which involved increasing their efforts to find adoptees. This included stepping up their attempts within L.A, as well as transporting dogs to other parts of the country. A drive to increase awareness of spay and neutering programmes was also initiated in a bid to control the population.
The results so far have been highly encouraging, with the number of dogs being euthanized having halved from over 8,000 in 2010/11 to little over 4,000 in 2013/14.
It is hoped that the continued efforts of L.A’s animal shelters will enable more canines to find loving homes in and around this dog loving city. As Lesley discovered during her tour of the city in the company of shelter dogs, Wicket and Lexie, there’s no shortage of tail-wagging joy to be had for our furry friends in L.A.
A favourite spot along La Brea, Sycamore Kitchen bakery and cafe is filled with young hip professionals who come to visit the nearby galleries and boutiques in the area. The large patio has lots of shady spots to keep cool in the California sun, and it’s very dog-friendly – everyone wanted to hold the leashes of our dogs as we got settled in. There were many other dogs on the patio, but it’s quite sizeable so you don’t feel cramped. Amazing granola too – not for the dogs, of course.
Sycamore Kitchen, 143 South La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles
Tucked away above Beverly Hills, this secret spot is easy to get to even for a quick middle-of-the-day hike. Franklin Canyon Park is 10 minutes from the heart of downtown Beverly Hills and there are numerous hiking trails, or you can walk on the paved road alongside a babbling creek (when there’s water). There’s also a reservoir and nature centre plus a sprawling lawn, but be sure to keep your dog on a lead and pick up after yourself – Beverly Hills rangers love to give out tickets!
Almost everyone at Franklin seems to have a dog. Lexie had a particularly interested suitor – hopefully he’ll put in an application. There’s nothing better than an adopter who loves to take his dogs hiking every day!
Nothing sums up L.A more than enjoying a meal at a restaurant with a beautiful patio on the Sunset Strip. Neighbourhood restaurant and bar Eveleigh is even more special because although you’re right there in the heart of everything, the patio seems to transport you to another world. It’s like being in a country estate, with faux grass, a flowing fountain and a leafy gazebo overhead. Even with temperatures in the mid 80s, you’re able to keep cool and feel a sense of time slowing down. It’s pretty incredible.
The food – a mix of old-world European and American country-style cooking – was superb, and the staff were very dog-friendly. They brought Lexie and Wicket chilled water and bowls in varying sizes, and Lexie found a bench on which to make herself comfortable.
Eveleigh, 8752 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles
When you’re in the pool area of the W Los Angeles it’s hard to believe you’re mere blocks away from high rises. Instead, it feels a little bit like paradise. Surrounded by trees and perched above a beautiful lawn, the pool and its private cabanas are simply sublime. We grabbed a few lounge chairs under the shade of a palm tree and struck up a conversation with some fellow hotel guests while the waitress brought over dog bowls for Wicket and Lexie. Our new friends – dog lovers of course – were so happy to see the dog culture of Los Angeles in action and said they wished their home town of Toronto could learn a lesson from L.A’s example!
The hotel’s Backyard Bar has a dedicated ‘Fido’s Kitchen’ menu featuring some doggy delicacies like Chaplin and Costello’s Roaring Burger (ground lean lamb, fresh mint and brown rice). Once inside, we checked out the incredible suites and the dogs felt right at home. Wicket and Lexie were each given a box of goodies from Bark Box filled with treats and toys and then we all settled in to check out the legendary W heavenly bed. It was just as good as we’d heard and perfect for a nap after the dogs’ amazing day exploring all the wonderful dog-friendly places in L.A.
But the dog culture of Los Angeles doesn’t stop there. L.A’s dogs enjoy living next to the Pacific as much as their owners, so when the weather’s good – which is most of the time – these happy hounds get to frolic in the surf at dog-friendly beaches like Leo Carillo State Park and Rosie’s Dog Beach in Long Beach.
And of course, for lots of Angelenos the obsession with appearance extends to their pampered pups too. As any mutt knows, it’s not easy to look red-carpet ready all the time – especially after a roll in the mud – so fortunately there are plenty of high end grooming salons like Sparky’s to bathe, trim, clip, fluff, blow-dry and generally fawn over the city’s pooches. For the dogs of Los Angeles, it’s all in a day’s work.
Do you live in L.A with a furry friend? Share your tips and experiences in the comments below.
All photographs © katiebphoto.com
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Do you live in L.A with a furry friend? Share your tips and experiences in the comments below. And if you want to make a difference yourself and support Wags and Walks in their constant efforts, why not book tickets and attend their next gala?