Willow the Maltepoo stood at attention at the red sidewalk table, eyes fixed on the blueberry scone Diane Ehrensaft, the dog’s owner, was devouring at Farley’s East on Grand Avenue in Oakland.
Willow, a cross between a Maltese and a poodle, is one of countless canines to be found in the East Bay’s dog-friendly parks, restaurants, brew pubs and hotels. The area has much to offer dogs and their human companions, according to Dave Kendrick, co-founder of DogTrekker.com, a website devoted to dog travel in California.
“The most important thing people want to know about on DogTrekker is beaches — that and hikes. It’s a tie,” Kendrick said. This is a big reason San Francisco is consistently ranked No. 1 in the country for dog-friendliness, considering its plethora of beaches including Land’s End, Fort Funston and Crissy Field.
Oakland, with its open spaces and dog-friendly events, also outranks Berkeley, standing out as the East Bay’s top dog haven, and the Tri-Valley area comes in second to Oakland in the East Bay, according to DogTrekker.
“While Berkeley doesn’t rank in the Top Ten of dog-friendly cities, mostly because of its size, there are lots of great things you and your pup can do in the city to have a good time,” said Kendrick, who travels the state with his own animal companion, DogTrekker’s “barketing manager,” Maya, a 6-year-old, 70-pound white rescue Labrador.
DoubleTree in the Berkeley Marina and La Quinta Inn are two of Berkeley’s dog-friendly hotels, while Kendrick described the Claremont Hotel & Spa as the “crown jewel.”
“We took Maya over there and she met the resident dog, a white boxer, Edie,” Kendrick said. “They did the sniff test and then went to play in the lobby.” (Edie’s formal title is “Ambassador.“) Travelers are encouraged to bring their own dogs when they visit, according to the Claremont website.
Behind the hotel is Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve, a great location for hiking with a dog, according to Kendrick.
The 208-acre preserve encompasses two parcels of land on both sides of upper Claremont Avenue, with grasslands and eucalyptus plantations. Lucky hikers might see black-tailed deer, a coyote, a gray fox, red-tailed hawks or garter snakes.
Kendrick calls the East Bay Regional Park District, which runs the preserve, one of the largest dog-friendly regional park districts in the U.S. The district also presides over two of the East Bay’s most beloved dog-friendly institutions, Berkeley’s Tilden Park and Point Isabel in Richmond.
“You can go on hikes with your dog at Tilden Park, but what is really cool is that you can go on the train with your dog,” Kendrick said. He was referring to the Redwood Valley Railway in the park, which is a bit challenging to find but worth the effort.
Point Isabel qualifies as a sort of ongoing Woofstock, where all manner of dogs cavort off-leash.
For most East Bay residents, Point Isabel needs no introduction — located at the west end of Central Avenue in Richmond, the 23-acre park has Golden Gate Bridge views and qualifies as a sort of ongoing Woofstock, where all manner of dogs cavort off-leash, chasing fluorescent green tennis balls, plunging into the water and sniffing each other’s rear ends in time-honored fashion.
Berkeley has about two dozen dog-friendly restaurants, including the venerable Bette’s Oceanview Diner — where dogs may not occupy the burgundy red naugahyde booths, but are allowed to lounge on the sidewalk where tables are placed outside. Brew pubs, including Fieldwork Brewing, have outside seating where dogs are allowed.
Kendrick is a big fan of Oakland for dog-friendliness. Jack London Square is one of his favorite locations.
“It’s only fitting that a public space named for the author of ‘Call of the Wild’ is dog-friendly, too,” according to the DogTrekker website.
Pet-oriented events coming up in Oakland include Growl, Meow and Wine, a fundraiser for the East Bay SPCA at its Oakland facility, on May 6, with craft beer, wine, food and auction items.
Second best in the East Bay for dogs is the Tri-Valley area, which over the years has become something of a mini-Napa Valley. There are more than 50 wineries in the Livermore Valley, and two dozen of them are dog-friendly, according to Kendrick.
The two large-production wineries, Concannon and Wente, both welcome dogs.
‘Tails’ of woe: Finding a dog-friendly home
Amid the dog-friendliness, there’s one sticking point: Trying to find a place to live. While statistics on how dog ownership might stall a housing hunt are scarce, just about anyone who has tried has tails — that is, tales — of woe.
“Anecdotally, students can custom-sort our Cal Rentals rentals to find listings that indicate a dog or cat is allowed,” said Adam Michael Ratliff, a UC Berkeley spokesman, in an email. Cal Rentals is the university’s rental service, which can be used by students, faculty and staff, with some restrictions.
“However, most rentals will indicate that no pets are allowed,” Ratliff said.
Ratliff didn’t have any hard numbers, and neither did Matt Brown, a senior staff attorney with Berkeley’s Rent Board.
“We know there are quite a few leases that prohibit animals,” Brown said. However, he added, “The assumption that if you have a pet it will be more difficult to find a place is absolutely true.”
Some tips on how to find a place for you and your pooch: One possible way to deal with this is to see if the landlord will accept an additional security deposit to allow a pet, as provided in Section 705(b) of the Rent Stabilization Board’s regulations.
Another idea: Write a doggie resumé.
“It sounds funny, but it’s very helpful,” said Greg Ford, a leasing specialist with Bay Cities Property Management, a Berkeley-based property management company.
The resume could include a photo of the dog and the dog’s name, age and breed, along with references from a former landlord, Ford said.
It’s also helpful to forestall any concerns about noise from a pet. “If there are shared walls, you could say that the dog goes to doggie daycare, or that you work from home, if that’s the case,” the leasing specialist said.