Bucket Lists, part 2: Outdoor Activities For Senior Dogs in Richmond, VA
Updated: Mar 21, 2018
The IAAHPC recently shared this image and it made me think about all the things we can still enjoy with our older or debilitated pets. Bucket lists are great, but one of the reasons we love dogs is that they don't need a trip to Paris, a fancy dining experience, or even a beach sunset to make their day amazing. Dogs love the little things, the every day ordinary joys and small miracles: smelling where another dog recently peed, getting their paws (or more) muddy, barking at a squirrel, even if they might not be bale to chase it anymore.
Richmond is the perfect place to enjoy outdoor activities with your older dog, with the James River running through it, and lots of amazing, accessible trails right in the heart of downtown. The James River Trail system has over 22 miles of trail, and is, in this author's humble opinion, the crown jewel of RVA (the local breweries help round out the diadem). It's a mini wilderness in the city center where you can take a break from the rush of the city to enjoy nature. Many hikers, dogs, and mountain bikers share the trails, so make sure your dog is on leash and you bring doggy bags. If you don’t have time or energy to take your senior dog for that much needed hike to stretch his legs, check out Canine Adventures.
They can take your active canine on a two adventure walk, or if they just need a quick bathroom break, shorter excursions are available.
If your older dog enjoys socializing and is still fairly active, consider a “pack walk” or a group hike organized by several different groups around town. Red Ridge Pet Market on John Rolfe Parkway organizes pack walks: and so does Canine Adventures. There are many other local meetup groups for your social butterfly.
The James River offers many possibilities for adventure, and even the elderly and debilitated pets can enjoy a ride in a canoe (on the flat waters). Make sure they have a life vest on, as the river can be swift in places. For the more adventurous, consider trying out Stand Up Paddleboarding with your dog. Black Dog Paddle rents paddleboards and has classes and tours available. Riverside Outfitters also rents canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards.
Local farmer markets are great places to spend the morning browsing for delicious, healthy, locally grown food with your favorite grey muzzle. It gives your senior dog a great opportunity to socialize, get some fresh air and light exercise, take in lots of new smells, and maybe snag a special homemade snack or two. Check out South of the James Farmers Market at Forest Hill Park on Saturday mornings and stop by Dog Bark for locally made dog snacks.
For information on other local farmers markets in the Richmond area, visit Richmond Times Dispatch's list here.
Looking for an evening stroll in the garden, with music, friends, and food? In the summer, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden allows you to bring your dog to smell the flowers every second and fourth Thursday of the month for Fidos After Fido. There is a suggested donation of 2$, and all proceeds benefits the Richmond SPCA. Please be sure your dog is on leash and comfortable around other dogs, people, and children.
Older dogs and dogs nearing the end of their lives are still dogs. They rarely know or care they are dying or slowing down. Their remarkable ability to live in the moment and enjoy what they can here and now, in the here and now, is part of the reason we love them so much.
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
~ Henry David Thoreau