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Orange County ITINERARY

It's a Ruff Life

Huntington Beach is a dog's best friend. A day at the beach. A walk in the park. A bite and a bath.


You've heard of a dog day afternoon? Consider a dog day morning in Huntington Beach. Start with a frolic at Dog Beach or Dog Park; treat your pet to breakfast at the Park Bench Cafe and maybe even a new 'do at Dogs Day Out.


"Dogs are welcome on this area of the beach" reads a sign near lifeguard station No. 22, and do the human's best friends ever appreciate it. Cliffs provide a natural barrier to Pacific Coast Highway; a paved path leads down to the sand. The sight of canines frolicking in the waves at Dog Beach, their owners achieving a Zen-like state of bliss by throwing sticks, gladdens all but the hardest of hearts.

There are restrictions: Dogs are permitted off-leash only in the water and within the mean tide line, essentially on wet sand; otherwise they must be leashed. Dogs with a tendency to fight must stay leashed. There's also a sign that says, "Be kind, don't be fined," which means you must do your duty and pick up after your pet; plastic bags are provided. Citations can lead to hefty fines, city officials say.

The fenced Dog Park, near Huntington Central Park, is another option. Enter along the Doggy Walk of Fame, a fund-raising effort involving concrete squares with pets' names inscribed.

Dogs seem to appreciate the bright red fire hydrant; people appreciate the new benches. The scent of eucalyptus trees fills the air. Doggie Walk Bags are provided.

Friendships develop between both dogs and owners.

"This is what we call the 8:30 play group," noted Amanda Kreglow of Huntington Beach as Harley, a Great Dane-Labrador mix, bounded up. Harley gets the other dogs running on a daily basis.

Janet Hausauer of Garden Grove prefers the park to the beach (no sand). Still, she's a supporter of Dog Beach--which has its detractors--and hopes the city will become more supportive and eventually allow dogs on dry sand.

"It's hard to imagine that people who don't like dogs have to choose to go to that one little stretch of coast," Hausauer said referring to those who object to Dog Beach.


The Park Bench Cafe prides itself on the canine cuisine served alongside standard breakfast and lunch fare. Doggie items range from a scoop of dog kibble for the discriminating pet that doesn't eat table food (75 cents) to the Wrangle Roundup, a lean ground-turkey patty for doggies on a low-fat diet ($2.25).

Also on the menu: Hot Diggity Dog, a plain beef hot dog cut in bite-size pieces; Bow Wow Chow, boneless skinless cut-up chicken fillet; Hound Dog Heaven, a lean hamburger patty; Annabelle's Treat, chopped bacon, and Chili Paws, a scoop of vanilla ice cream for that pampered pooch.

Pets are allowed at, and not on, designated tables. Pets must be leashed and must eat or drink from bowls provided. Aggressiveness "paws-itively" won't be tolerated.

Poochie Parties serve snout-watering treats (appetizer, entree and dessert), a bowl of water, balloons and party hats and a "Bone Appetit" T-shirt for the owner (six-dog minimum, $39.95, additional dogs $4.95 each.) A cake ($24.95) is made from such doggie delectables as liver and peanut butter.


Whether your pet needs to get gussied up for a Poochie Party or just needs a bath after the Dog Beach, consider Dogs Day Out.

"We can do any type of haircut," said Laurie Chechovsky, one of two sisters who own the grooming shop. "A straight-haired dog, we can make it look like a poodle."

Turnaround time can be as short as three hours by appointment. Baths range from $20 to $35 depending on size; special grooming is more. A nail clip is $5.

Dogs Day Out is an equal opportunity groomer, as a sign out front attests: "Dogs Day Out, P.S. We Love Cats Too."


1) Dog Beach

Pacific Coast Highway, north of Goldenwest Street, (714) 536-5281.

5 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.

2) Dog Park

Edwards Street, between Ellis and Talbert avenues, (714) 536-5672.

Dawn to dusk daily.

3) Park Bench Cafe

Goldenwest Street at Rio Vista Drive, Huntington Beach Central Park, (714) 842-0775.

7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m-8:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.

4) Dogs Day Out

17741 Beach Blvd., (714) 962-1010.

8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

Parking: There is metered parking at Dog Beach (one quarter each 15 minutes) and free parking in lots at the other locations.

Buses: OCTA Bus No. 1 (Long Beach-San Clemente) runs along Pacific Coast Highway; Bus No. 25 (Fullerton-Huntington Beach) runs along Goldenwest Street; Bus No. 29 (Brea-Huntington Beach) runs along Beach Boulevard. No dogs except seeing-eye dogs.

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