As the weather started cooling a bit in Tucson, the whole pack decided to visit Smiling Dog Ranch.
We've been to Smiling Dog Ranch before with just Bernie. One of the nice features of Smiling Dog Ranch is the option to exit onto the Rillito River Walk.
Some days, Bernie liked playing just within Smiling Dog Ranch.. With two concrete tunnels, plenty of tennis balls, and an abundance of shade, we could have a good time.
Other times, Smiling Dog Ranch was deserted, so we would take the River Path down to Brandi Fenton Park where there are three dog parks separated for small, medium, and large dogs. Between the various parks and walks between them, Bernie got plenty of exercise.
On this cooler September evening, we found plenty of people at Smiling Dog Ranch. We walked down to the shadier lower area that's quieter and better suited for chasing tennis balls.
The pups kicked up plenty of dirt as they scurried after the balls and each other. In Tucson, most dog parks, including Smiling Dog Ranch, are made up of dirt, so we strategically plan our visits prior to a grooming appointment.
While there are plenty of water buckets in Smiling Dog Ranch, I carry water for the pups with me. Always. We live in the desert. I bring a water bottle for me everywhere I go, so I extend the same courtesy to our pups.
This habit has paid off. The pups know that I carry water for them. When we're out and about, if they get thirsty, they'll go sit by my backpack, and I know they'd like some water, so we all take a break.
I brought their Kong stuffed twig toy to the park. After running after numerous tennis balls, I like to give them other options. Besides chasing this toy, they like playing tug-o-war with one another with it.
Making friends on this trip was a bit tough. Most of the dogs were bigger than Bernie and much bigger than Lizzie. While Bernie is relatively comfortable running with bigger dogs, Lizzie got scared when several larger dogs chased her moments after we entered the park. Later, she seemed happy to see a few beagles show up and she gravitated toward them for a few minutes.
For most of this visit, we stayed together as a pack. Walking to the shadier lower area was also a good choice to avoid those dogs who are less supervised. Dog owners who come to the park primarily to chat with other dog people tend to stay in the area between the two concrete tunnels. People who want to play with their dogs head to the lower end where there's more room to throw toys around and run.
Since Smiling Dog Ranch has no lighting, we left as the sun continued to set. After more than an hour running around, the pups were ready for dinner.