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Dogs of the Dunes

Chester 2001-April 2014

Chester 2001-April 2014



When my family and  I moved to the dunes in 2004, we had our sweet, beloved Golden Retriever, Chester. He was a city dog, raised in Chicago’s Lincoln Square, and was 3 years old at the time. Chester was a swimmer and when he found out we were moving close to the beach, he couldn’t have been more excited! As the years passed and my daughter got older and started school, Chester became my daytime companion. He knew every trail in the area, every beach and every field. I could let him off leash and knew he would come back. We joked that he was the King of the Dunes and everyone in the area knew him. Just a few weeks before he died, at the age of 13, Chester took a long walk with me on the East side of Cowles Bog and I was amazed as he ran ahead of me and jumped a huge log with the same vigor and excitement he had as a puppy.

Chester just weeks before he died. Near Cowles Bog.

Chester just weeks before he died. Near Cowles Bog.

Chester lived a full life, but sadly died of cancer last April. Our hearts were broken and life just wasn’t the same without a dog. I roamed the trails dog less  for a few months, walked the beach just kicking the sticks instead of throwing them, and then a time came when I knew it would be okay to get another dog. We knew it couldn’t be another golden. We knew it couldn’t be a puppy. A friend told us about Giant Paw Prints Rescue and once we looked at their website, we knew that would be where we would find our next dog.

And then we met Otis. A (possibly five) year old Anatolian Shepherd/Retriever mix, probably mixed with a lot more! He’s 100 lbs. and full of so much love. Otis came all the way from Kentucky. He doesn’t like water, he likes to stick close by, but he is slowly learning to love the dunes. Otis can be seen in many of the photos I post on Facebook now, and Otis is most likely by my side when I take each and every one.

So, what is the point of this post? Well, I wanted to let you know how much the companionship of a dog has enhanced my dune life, but I always wanted to let you know where some of the best dog friendly areas are.

Dog friendly beaches… Dogs are allowed at Central Ave beach, which is my personal favorite, but is closed during the winter. (and, due to the big storm last fall, closed early due to lots of erosion — hopefully it will re-open in the spring!). Kemil Beach in Beverly Shores and Lakeview Beach at the Indiana Dunes State Park also allow dogs year round. (However, the Kemil Beach website is now telling me it’s just before Memorial Day and after Labor Day). They need to be on leashes at all areas, but some are less restrictive then others. Dogs are allowed at the Portage Lakefront, but not the Portage Lakefront beach. I believe they are allowed on most beaches during the winter months (Ogden Dunes from June 1 thru August 1).

Dogs are allowed on most of the trails, but there are just a few restricted areas, which can be found at the link below.

A very cool dog friendly park is Bluhm Park in Westville. There are all sorts of obstacles for them and a large running area. There is also one in Michigan City and Portage.  Here is a link with some of the dog parks in the area.


Now we can’t talk dogs…without talking dogs! Many of you that have been following Dig the Dunes for awhile may remember the famous Hot Dog Tour that Simon and I took. I thought I would re-post the video here for a refresher! We, along with you, chose the Top Hot Dog places in the area. You can see them all right here!


Last week I asked you to send in your “Dogs of the Dunes”. I received many photos of dogs and with the help of my 12 year old daughter, I have chosen my top three. The winner will get a beach photo print! 

3rd Place: Tophie!

3rd Place: Tophie!

2nd Place - Sally!

2nd Place – Sally!

1st place Briar! (with Duke)

1st place Briar! (on left)  (with Duke)

The stories of these dogs were what sold us, and I would like to share them with you here.

From Cassandra about Tophie: This is a picture of our pitbull rescue, Tophie at the Dunes. We had just recently rescued her and as you can imagine, she was absolutely in Heaven that day. After a rough start to life, we found her at just 6 months of age and brought her home to live the life she so deserves. As you can imagine, she LOVES the Dunes for all of the sights, smells and sounds it has to offer. We love our girl and the Dunes!

From Jenny about Sally: After being rescued from becoming a “bait dog,” Sally is now the ultimate “Dunes dog.” She is happiest chasing sticks on the beach and retrieving them from the lake. Some of Sally’s best Dunes adventures include scampering through the beautiful Miller Woods, scaling the lofty West Beach stairs, frolicking with her dog friends on the beaches of Ogden Dunes and Beverly Shores, and most recent, conquering the 3Dune Challenge. In the summer, she enjoys being a boat dog cruising the shores of Lake Michigan…and spends lots of time socializing at Boaters’ Beach near Dune Acres. This girl gets around!

And Jessica won our hearts and is the winner with her story about Briar! (who recently passed away): These were some of the last pics I have of Briar in my phone, everthing else is packed away (I’m moving from Otis to porter beach:)) She was 14 in these pics & passed away the first day I lit the wood burner in the house. I don’t think she wanted to make it through another winter like last year! (Even tho we did have fun!) We would sit on the beach for hours on end & she’d just be smiling away. I had everyday the last year of her life to spend with her due to being in a bad car accident & having knee & shoulder surgery. After her brother passed away we had 4 months alone until this little man Duke(corgi) came to us. He brought so much life back to Briar & got me back on my feet. Someone once told me “after all… to a human, a dog is part of your life, but to a dog, you are its whole life” that always stuck with me & I think about it everyday i get home and I’m crabby & tired & don’t feel like going for a hike. It always gets me movin.


We also could not resist to include this classic photo of Blazer which was taken 30 years ago at the Indiana Dunes State Park and submitted by Andrea.

Special Award: Blazer

Special Award: Blazer

Thank you to everyone who submitted photos. It was very hard to choose, however it was so much fun to see all the Dogs and their stories.

Thanks for reading, remember to subscribe, don’t forget to let me know if you’d like me to cover something specific — and keep on Digging the Dunes!

~ Eve

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