Happy Labor Day, friends! While Jeremy and I are in Denmark, we will recognize the day with one of the hardest workers I know: my dad. We’ll cheers with a Carlsberg beer and a strong skål now that he’s able to enjoy his well earned retirement! And the rest of America – given that it’s usually taken as the last weekend of summer – will most likely be celebrating Labor Day at the beach.

Our dog sitting in front of the "Dog Beach" sign

Back in St. Pete, FL, we had a really great time at the dog beach in Fort De Soto. River grew up in the city and suburbs before we moved to Florida. We didn’t have the easiest access to dog friendly beaches on the east coast. He’s never even swam in a pool. We wondered if his long legs would make swimming enjoyable, and so we took him to his first dog beach. And since we’re in the pursuit of happiness, we’d love to be able to go places with a happy dog, too!

It was an affordable $5 to enter the park and the woman at the booth even gave River a treat! I’m such a sucker for these type of customer service. Free treats for my dog? Yes, please! She even gave us directions to the dog beach. Bonus points.

It wasn’t too challenging to find except that Google calls the beach “Fort De Soto Boat Ramp.” There was some back and forth with Jeremy on that one. When we found it (after listening to me) we parked in the ample parking lot and took an easy walk to the beach. Passing a fenced-in grassy dog park on the way there, I was relieved to see that we had an alternative doggy space just in case the beach was a bust.

First Impressions

On the beach, dogs of all sizes and breeds roamed. Some were running, some were basking, and many were chasing balls thrown into the waves. I even saw a three legged dog who struggled to walk on the beach but glided effortlessly in the water. Tear jerker!

Jeremy and I waded into the water first. I don’t think River knew what to make of the giant, splashing bath water. He followed us in shortly though since he can’t possibly be separated from Jeremy (OR ELSE THE WORLD WILL END). They played fetch and my heart swooned.

After a few tries playing in the water, we quickly learned that…

River doesn’t like the ocean.

Not sure what is was… The waves? Unfamiliarity with water in general? The taste was too salty? Whatever it is, River didn’t like it (despite his ironic name). This didn’t keep him from fun though! There was another Pointer on the beach and the two of them played fetch. He really loved running up and down the sand and having the freedom to greet other dogs when he’s normally on a leash.

Ummm, Remember to Drink Water

We continued to encourage River to drink water, and when he stopped drinking after several tries (probably because he’d rather play), we didn’t stay too much longer after that. There’s the risk of dehydration – especially with his breed. The beach doesn’t have dog bowls – so remember to bring your own!

About a few days later, an article about a dog dying from dehydration at a Tampa Bay beach came out with the advice:

“If you want to take your dog to the beach, limit the trip to two hours, taking breaks every thirty minutes with plenty of fresh water for your four-legged family member.” – News Channel 8

Okay, I digress and now becoming a total damper on this holiday.

Fort De Soto for Humans

For me, I loved being there. The water was warm, and with plenty of sea creatures since Fort De Soto is a private park. I saw dolphins splashing a few feet away and a teeny stingray swimming just steps away! The sand wasn’t crowded either, which is such a relief when I’ve had to experience knocking elbows with strangers just to get a tiny square of land to lay out.

Although River may not be a swimmer, we’ll be back (maybe we can find a way to convince him back in the water with bacony treats…Hmmm…*plotting*). Fort De Soto was too affordable, too comfortable, and too fun not to go back. And if you’re still trying to figure out your Labor Day beach plans, remember Fort De Soto!

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