My vision of heaven is a long stretch of beach, with the sun shining and a breeze blowing. And I’m surrounded by the company of lots and lots of happy dogs. Here on earth, Cherry Beach comes pretty close.
Okay, in my heaven the water is a bit warmer, the shoreline a little less rocky and the sun is always shining. But right here in Toronto, there’s a place where you can always find the company of happy dogs.
Those of us dog owners with large breeds know that a walk at the end of the leash – no matter how long or how far, doesn’t match the benefit of even a short period of freedom off- leash. Dogs are pack animals and (most) crave socialization with other dogs. My energetic labradoodle gets the most joy and exercise in a place where he can run full-bore in a wide open space.
Many breeds love the water, and here they can swim and fetch to the point of happy exhaustion.
The beach is divided, with an area dedicated to human beach-goers to the south and a chain link fence clearly dividing it from the four-legged crowd to the north end. It offers a long stretch of shore which backs onto wooded pathways. The fence goes only as far as the shoreline, so any dog prone to bolting does have an escape route. But in my own experience, as long as there’s a frenzy of activity, dogs typically like to stay close to the action.
Cherry beach is easily accessible from Lake Shore Boulevard. There’s plenty of parking where you can unload and load your beast. And since the visitors here are (mostly) responsible dog people and there’s adequate access to garbage cans, you’ll probably find this area of the beach is kept cleaner than many other public places throughout the city.
We come here year round. In the summer it’s a respite for my furry companion, trying to survive the heat of a summer day in a full length coat. And even in the winter, I still enjoy the benefit of a vitamin D boost from a sunny day at the beach – and endorphins from time spent outside with my dog.
So, if you’re a dog owner – or just a dog lover, and you share my vision of heaven, you can come pretty close to finding it at the foot of Cherry Street.