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The Dogs of Saturday Morning

Updated on August 6, 2013

The Beach is Better with Coffee and Happy Dogs

Saturday morning is the Queen of Mornings. For many of us, it's the morning when we wake up with the most freedom we will have all week. On Saturday mornings, as at no other time, the world and the people in it leave us to our own devices, to work or play as we will. For a dedicated group of dog lovers in Santa Cruz, CA, there's only one thing to do with that gloriously blank slot on the weekly calendar. Dog Beach.

Dogs enjoy the beach as much as we do.

Technically, the beach involved is Lighthouse Field State Beach. Every Saturday morning, from eight to ten, the Friends of Lighthouse Field gather with their favorite canines to celebrate Saturday morning with coffee, donuts, and a whole lot of happy dogs. These responsible dog lovers arrive armed with small bags to clean up after their pets, large bags to clean up after less courteous human visitors, and some of the coolest, friendliest, and happiest dogs in town.

All photographs taken by the author.

Dogs on the Beach in the Morning - California Living at Its Finest

Dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds play together in the sand
Dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds play together in the sand

A rainbow of happy dogs on the beach!

Last week brought Santa Cruz some badly needed rain. As a gardener and a childishly gleeful lover of storms, I was delighted to see it come. Dog beach, however, isn't much of an all-weather affair. Sure, a few brave souls and their water-loving hounds will brave the rain, but without the crowds of happy people and dogs (and without the coffee and donuts) dog beach wouldn't be the same. Friday night, I listened to the wind and rain lashing the house and resigned myself to a Saturday morning with no capering hounds but my own.

What a pleasant surprise when Saturday morning arrived clean and bright, if a little damp. A text to the lovely canine and her equally lovely companion with whom I attend Saturday mornings at Dog Beach confirmed that we were on. And so, on the third Saturday in January, perfectly comfortable in a light sweater, I watched dogs frolic in the sand and surf under a bright, cloud-patched sky. There are worse lives to have, and worse places to have them.

Frida is airborne in her quest for the elusive tennis ball
Frida is airborne in her quest for the elusive tennis ball

Well-behaved dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds

The dogs who frequent Dog Beach come in every color, shape, size, age, and breed. They are all well-behaved, friendly, and overjoyed to be there, as is the accompanying pack of coffee-swillin', donut-munchin', widely grinning humans.

Frida always gets her ball.

Some of the smallest dogs play with a wild abandon to match that of any dog on the beach, including my friend Frida, who looks smashing in her red jacket. Airborne but for one tiny foot in the sand, she is in hot pursuit of the ever elusive tennis ball.

On Saturday Morning in Santa Cruz, I would...

A sunny morning with my favorite community.
A sunny morning with my favorite community.

We have liftoff!
Photo by Cassandra Gregg

Saturday mornings at Dog Beach aren't for everyone! Folks who dislike dogs, are allergic to dogs, or travel in the company of twelve fierce cats will probably be happier on one of the other beaches, or on this beach at another, less highly dog-populated time. Fortunately, there are several other beaches in the immediate vicinity.

Where would you be on Saturday morning in Santa Cruz?

See results

Winter Sunshine and More Dogs on Dog Beach - Yes, This is What Winter Looks Like Here!

Two small dogs frolic in the waves
Two small dogs frolic in the waves

Come on in, the water's fine!

Lots of small dogs on Dog Beach today, sleek blurs consistently winning the races for tennis balls. These two took some time to frolic in the waves, and the sun itself couldn't help but smile down on them.

Till We Meet Again... - Dog Beach Comes but Once a Week

Till we meet again!
Till we meet again!

We say our goodbyes as the morning moves on, but these hours will bring us smiles all week long.

When the time comes, goodbyes are exchanged and we straggle, in groups and pairs, off the beach, up the stairs, and back to the rest of our weeks. Always, I'm refreshed, soothed, and already looking forward to next Saturday's Dog Beach.

Does your community have a great place for well-behaved people and canines to congregate and play? Is there an offleash dog park nearby, or a beach, diner or pub with a dog-friendly patio?

Where Do You Hang Out with Your Dog? - Tell Us About Your Saturdays

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    • PaigSr profile image


      5 years ago from State of Confusion

      Growing up on a lake I am very used to the dogs in the lake every day not just Saturdays. Once or twice the cats as well but that was only for a quick drink. Then away from the water.

    • hntrssthmpsn profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @Nancy Hardin: Awww, I suppose if I had to choose between the beach and the dog, I'd keep the dog. :) You're welcome to "visit" dog beach with us anytime!

    • hntrssthmpsn profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @gottaloveit2: A dog sofa beats the heck out of a dogless beach :)

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Hello, I don't have a beach, but I do have a dog! And this is a delightful story! Thanks for "making my day!"

    • gottaloveit2 profile image


      5 years ago

      What a beautiful tribute to some of our best friends - our dogs. On this Saturday, here in a wet, rainy Maryland, I'm dreaming of a dog beach but, at the moment, I just have a dog sofa. Ah, all is well. Very blessed lens!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      DOgs and a beach always equals fun! It's so energyzing to see them running free and playing in the waves. Lovely thing.

    • hntrssthmpsn profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @MelRootsNWrites: Well if you find yourself in the Santa Cruz area on a Saturday morning, swing by and see us!

    • hntrssthmpsn profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @bossypants: My dog friends and I are very lucky to live in a place where such a wonderful thing happens every week, it's true! I'm glad to hear you have parks to visit... towns without good places for people and dogs to mingle and frolic freely are truly missing out.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 

      5 years ago from California

      This page is a pleasure to visit! The dogs seem to be having so much fun and I got the sense that you enjoy your time with them. I am familiar with Santa Cruz, though not this beach. Nice to see someone showing off California and her dogs.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Yup, we have dog parks. And, I am grateful for them. But a dog beach?!!?! Your photos make me feel wonderful and wish to be by the water's edge with our dog! Wonderful!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      6 years ago from Canada

      I love visiting this article. It puts me in a very happy place. Dog beach looks like just so much fun for pet and parent alike.

    • hntrssthmpsn profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @JenwithMisty: That's great! Everyone needs winter recreation, too!

    • belinda342 profile image


      6 years ago

      Dakota and I head to McCormick's Creek State park where we can walk the creek bed in the summer. Unfortunately, she has to stay on leash the whole time. But we still have fun.

    • JenwithMisty profile image

      Jen withFlash 

      6 years ago

      We have a great dog park in the area. They have separate sections for big dogs and little dogs and the place is always packed! Even during the cold winters!

    • rallo-smith profile image


      6 years ago

      I wish there was! My dogs would love this play date every Saturday, they would be waiting in the car Friday We have a nice park I take them to and I work at a Pet Resort so they are welcome to come and play there anytime. Great share!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      6 years ago from Central Florida

      It almost makes me wish for a dog so I could take it to this beach. I'm not a morning person though, so I'd miss all the donuts.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 

      6 years ago from New York

      I moved and no longer have dogs so don't know. It seems that no one pays attention to the leash law here. The dogs all seem to run loose whenever there owners let them out of the house.

    • Rangoon House profile image


      6 years ago from Australia

      There is a lovely park in my street, only about four houses away.

    • kathysart profile image


      6 years ago

      Angel blessed.

    • kathysart profile image


      6 years ago

      There is but I have not been there since we moved. I want to go though and this is a wonderful reminder to me to GO! Thank you!!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      6 years ago from Canada

      What a wonderful way to have both man and dog socialize, relax, and get back to nature. I love the image of the dog in full flight with all 4 feet of the ground. That is delightful.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I've not had a dog since I was a kid ... but it is rather magical to watch dogs frolicking on the beach.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      6 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I love seeing happy dogs, including my own. Makes ME so happy. There's pure joy in those photos.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 

      6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      There is a really huge park several miles away where we talk our dog for daily walks. (And yep, with our doody bags too.)

      I loved the pictures of such happy dogs on this page. What fun Saturday mornings must be!


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