When I moved back to Westchester this past year, I was very impressed with the abundance of dog parks in the area.
The Bark Park in White Plains was a five-minute drive away and the ever so popular Ward Acres Park in New Rochelle was always worth the drive. The only concern was the lack of access to water for our furry companions as my dog, Dexter, is a Labrador retriever mix which is a breed known for their love of swimming.
On mentioning my disappointment to another dog owner, I heard about Dog Beach in Larchmont. What is believed to be the only canine-friendly beach in Westchester, Dog Beach is located right next to Manor Park at the end of Beach Avenue overlooking the Long Island Sound.
"The dog parks around here are great but these guys can only last so long in the heat," said Alison Battiste of Mamaroneck. "At least here they get to run around and jump in whenever they need to cool off."
While most of the property is protected by barriers and a giant stone wall that stretches the whole beach, be aware that there is no fenced in entrance and it is recommended that you practice the recall commands with your dog so he doesn't wander off.
The Dog Beach is about 50 feet wide, a relatively small strip of sand, although the beachfront extends all the way into the distance during low tide. Dog owners take advantage of the extra space when available, which has always been a conflict as this extends to the property of the Larchmont Shore Club.
"I always bring my dogs here in the summer and there usually is never a problem," said Stephen Cribari, a Bronx resident who brings his two Labrador retrievers to the beach. "There's been a couple occasions though, usually on the weekends, where the employees at the club have asked us to get off their property."
Not only is the beach the only water access for dogs in the area, it is also one of the only free put-in locations for paddle sports such as kayaks.
Dog Beach is even used for educational field trips for schools around the area. The Sheldrake Environmental Center, based out of Larchmont, provides one-hour class trips to the beach where students conduct ecological activities with a trained environmental educator.
According to the Center's website, Dog Beach has "a rich ecosystem that includes an abundance of life in its intertidal zones and tidal pools" that includes barnacles, snails, mussel shells, and a whole lot of seaweed.
Fortunately, the pups don't get too protective over their beachfront property. The students usually end up taking time out from their class trip before they leave to throw sticks and tennis balls out into the water for the dogs to fetch.
When bringing your dogs to the beach, keep in mind that there is no parking on Beach Avenue so you'll have to find a spot on one of the many side streets. You may also want to lay out some towels in your car beforehand as the sand tends to stay caught in their paws for a while.
"This truly is the best spot for dogs in the area," said Dana Walker. "Of course I don't mind getting to sit on a beach for a few hours either on a day like this."
If you haven't visited Dog Beach yet, the summer heat makes for the perfect time to let your family pet go for a swim. Even if they don't have any water experience, the beach provides a great comfort zone for them to get their feet wet and of course plenty of other dogs to encourage them to run in.