DOGS ARE THE GREATEST CREATURES that have ever lived or will ever live. As Socrates doth asketh, "For what is one's life if 'tis lived without a dog?" And as Plato doth respondeth: "Trick question, Crates! For life without a dog is no life at all."
Unfortunately, I live in an apartment—and dogs need more yards, more grass, more trees, and more fun than dumb apartments can provide. Which means that—at least until I murder someone and steal their house—I'm stuck with other peoples' dogs. Thankfully, this isn't as much of a problem as it appears; there are many ways to live in Portland without a dog, yet still hang out with dogs. (Or at least see them on a regular basis, so that you don't forget life is worth living.)
Going to dog parks without a dog can be weird—sometimes dog owners actually want to talk (no thanks, weirdo!), and sometimes dog parks are just big, shitty mud pits. Luckily, Portland has a couple of ideal dog-watching parks, like the south end of Laurelhurst Park (SE Cesar E. Chavez and Stark), AKA "the Dog Bowl," which is just a big, grassy dog arena where really great dogs run around and play and go crazy. Another great spot: Sellwood Riverfront Park (SE Spokane and Oaks Park), where, if the weather's warm and the sun is out, you can not only see wild-eyed dogs tearing across a big-ass field, but also splashing around in the reeking swill of the mighty Willamette. It's the best.
On the other hand, this is Portland—which means that for precisely 10/12ths of the year, the weather's rainy and selfish jerks who have dogs don't take them outside as much. HOWEVER. Northwest Portland's Sniff Café is attached to the Sniff Dog Hotel (1828 NW Raleigh, sniffdoghotel.com). On one hand, Sniff Dog Hotel is the kind of place where snobby dog owners can pay extra to put up their pets in "deluxe suites" and "penthouses" (angry groan), but on the other hand, they have something BRILLIANT: A giant plate-glass window that's one of the walls of their indoor dog park! And guess what's on the other side of that? Chairs and a bar and beer and cookies and pizza and coffee! That means that the dog-less among us can grab a beer, take a seat, and do nothing but watch dogs play—which is especially good during "Happy Hour," every day from 5-7, when anyone can bring their dog to play for free. The only downside is it will make you keenly disappointed that all bars don't come with free dog watching.
THE HUMANE SOCIETY!
Fun (or maybe not-so-fun?) fact: The Oregon Humane Society has a ton of volunteer opportunities, from the intense (fostering dogs at your house!) to the casual (taking fat dogs for runs!). Not only is all of this a lot less passive than just, you know... creeping on dogs, it's actually useful, because even if you can't adopt a dog, you can make one dog's life—or a bunch of dogs' lives—better. Just thinking about this makes me slightly less miserable about the state of the world; get more info at oregonhumane.org.
Did you know that if you promise to live in their house and hang out with their dog, people will let you live in their house and hang out with their dog? Not to sound too arrogant, but I am really fucking good at this, and if you have a dog, you should totally take me up on it! Just in case you think I'm a liar (fair), I asked the person I most recently dog sat for to write a brutally honest, unflinchingly objective review of my astonishing dog-sitting abilities.
"When I had to leave town for a long weekend, I entrusted the care of my dog, Marlowe, to Erik Henriksen. Erik was a conscientious dog sitter who emailed me detailed daily updates on Marlowe's activities, up to and including the frequency of his bowel movements. ('Marlowe pooped twice today! I don't know if you needed to know that.' No, Erik. I'm at my grandmother's funeral. I really didn't.) Aside from daily walks and playtime, Erik appears to have spent the weekend lovingly stroking Marlowe's head while crooning, 'You're my best friend, Marlowe. My best friend in the whole world.' I would recommend Erik's services to anyone looking for a dog sitter."
While that is a drastic simplification of the time I spent with Marlowe, my best friend in the whole world (we also watched at least seven episodes of The X-Files), it more or less summarizes the unquestionable reality that I'm the best dog sitter who ever lived. People with dogs and houses can contact me via this publication.
More Pet Issue Articles:
Point/Counterpoint: The Mercury Argues about Dog Food
Love the One You're With
Which Pet Is Right for You?
Creepin' On Dogs
Portland's Pet of the Year 2015
Four Paws On The Street
Behold! The Winners of the Most Glamorous Pet Photo Contest