Around the time I enrolled at LSU, I had also started walking dogs for the company WAG. They can best be described as an Uber service for dog walking. My now deceased dog, Goochie, was a near 80-pound rescue who was almost impossible to walk.
Over the past two years I have walked, and even boarded, all sorts of dogs all around the city. I used my experience to compile this list of destinations to visit with your dogs.
For the Roaming Dog: Skip Bertman Drive Levee Trailhead
My personal favorite destination. Sunsets on the Levee are unmatched. As soon as you reach the top of the stairs overlooking the Vet School, a Louisiana paradise is unlocked. The eye-level sun stares into your soul with Tiger Stadium standing proudly behind you. The paved trail that now extends all the way to St. Gabriel provides an easy walking path. There are a few bikers and dogs that may be a problem, but the foot traffic is never unbearable on the levee.
A place for your pet to roam with no interference is the difference-maker that puts this destination in a league of its own. Under the flagpoles there is a large area of grass that is constantly maintained where your dog can roam free, play fetch, or even just sit and watch the sunset. A cool river breeze sweeps over the levee and provides more incentive to walk a little further down the path as your dog hears the new sounds of the boats gliding over the Mississippi. The darkening sky is the only reason me and the pup will part.
Get here while you can, because it does not last forever. Louisiana’s rapidly changing environments do not spare the levee as every native knows. The path remains year-round but the pasture proceeds to get gobbled up by the river for months at a time each year. Regardless, the Skip Bertman Drive Levee Trailhead remains a breathtaking destination for your pet to roam without a care in the world.
For the Traveling Dog: Blackwater Conservation Area
This destination is a 25-minute drive from campus, but you will feel as if you’re in the middle of nowhere once you head away from the road. If your furry friend can stomach the car ride, do not hesitate to check this place out. Welcoming trails and beautiful water are on full display at this location. The calmness of the environment translates over to your dog, and you can enjoy a chilled outing. With two active fishing lakes and a simple but lengthy trail system, this nature preserve could be a great place to bring a peanut butter and jelly sandwich along with a water bowl and relax for a little while. This spot also has the potential to be a furry friend fishing trip, if you are into that sort of thing.
For the Social Dog: Raising Canes Dog Park
Upon pulling up to the dog park on Halloween weekend my heart dropped. The beautiful expanse that was the Raising Canes Dog Park was under heavy construction. For future reference, dog parks are like high school for dogs, and that means it is good and bad. There will be owners and dogs that make you shake your head, but social dogs always seem to have a good time.
Since I could not see the dog I was walking make new friends, we took to Park Boulevard. The houses on the street looked cozy and decorative in their Halloween best. The bikers zooming by waved generously as the Louisiana sun was trickled through the oak leaves on the chilly fall morning.
The stroll down Park Boulevard was not enough to overcome the dog park disappointment on its own. We then did a lap around City-Brooks Community Park. The tennis courts presented a bit of a challenge with the balls flying about, but the golf course was a highlight. The well-kept course overlooking the city lake is nothing short of stunning. The vast array of greens was enough for both me and the pup.
For the tireless dog: University Lakes
By the time I had finished a lap around the lake trail, I was spent and so was the dog. I have no clue what makes the lake feel so small compared to its actual size. This high traffic destination may prove to be troublesome with curious dogs, but that does not last long. I parked in the lot between university and city lake. Halfway through the walk we had seen plenty of squirrels, birds, and other dogs. When I made it to Milford Wampold Memorial Park, I was already beat, and the dog’s panting was almost at maximum volume.
Frat houses replaced the charming lake houses during the second leg. As you go along, you veer further from the lake, but the views do not disappoint. The foot traffic dies almost all the way down, similar to the pace of the walk. The biggest downside of this location is the lack of consistency in terms of walking area. You go from street to sidewalk to bike lane and back multiple times. This may not be the best destination for untrained dogs for this reason. For a dog who never seems to get tired and can behave themselves, look no further than the University Lakes.
For all dogs: By your side
Coronavirus has proved to test many aspects in our lives. Like always, dogs remain the most loyal creatures known to man. Whether you can visit every dog park in the state or not, in exchange for the unrefined joy they present you. All your pet asks of you is that you return a fraction of love and, of course, some food.