lake hollywood park

Chaucer sidled up to Terence and I towards the end of last week, pushed his big, velvety head into the space between us and said, "Yo. I heard you guys talking. I know you've got friends coming to town this weekend. I know you'll be busy and I won't get as much attention as usual. So I was thinking: maybe you should take me on an adventure before they get here? Maybe even today, because it's so nice out? Someplace new. A park I've never been to. That's what I think should happen. Also, burgers."

It's amazing what dogs can say with just their eyes, right??

We agreed that he was right about the park, if not the burgers. Terence - who says he feels like a good step dad whenever he takes Chaucer and I on an outing - had been wanting to check out Lake Hollywood Park for a while anyway, so that's what we did. And oh man were we glad Chaucer suggested it. The area is so pretty, and the park itself is a doggy field of dreams.

Getting there is a wee bit tricky: winding roads with lots of sharp turns. But just sat nav that baby and you're good to go.

It's an off-leash park, but seems roomy enough for everyone to have plenty of space. Lots of big, sporty dogs playing but other than some light sparring we didn't see any fights break out. Hooray for attentive dog owners!

Chaucer himself did me proud and was a total gentleman. We kept mostly to the perimeter, watching, getting the lay of the land for our first visit. Chauc is hit or miss when it comes to getting along with other large breeds, so I have to be careful about when and where and with whom he gets full freedom. We kept him close and didn't let him go into the fray this time, but we'll definitely go back and let him socialize when it's a little emptier. A few dogs did wander over to check him out but he was super chill.

A few notes in case you take your pup: there's a water fountain, but you'll need to bring a bowl. The hill running alongside the park (with free street parking) is pretty steep; it might be a challenge for older dogs if you can't get a spot close by. And lastly: beware of mosquitos.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of seeing your city dog sink his paws into some soft, green grass. I'm terrible about anthropomorphizing Chaucer but I swear at moments like this I read gratitude in his eyes. I didn't give him a rural life, he didn't quite win the canine lottery...but I do my best to give him nature on the regular.

And this guy? He jokes about feeling step-daddish but he has no idea the points he scores, loading me and my boy up in the car and spending an hour in the sun with us. Means the world.

Chaucer is always exceptionally patient about our selfie-taking, even when it's his day.

The bugs chased us off before it got too dark, but it was the sunset that chased us down the freeway a few minutes later.

We should definitely let Chaucer plan the day more often.