San Diego: Vegas for Dogs

Crowds of pooches walk up and down the sidewalks of downtown. Some are primped and looking suave for potential mates. Pop music hits play from audio speakers in bars and clubs throughout Gaslamp Quarter.

There’s not a big molly scene, but there is doggy beer available. Canines don’t really need to catch a buzz though. The natural excitement from human admirers and gawkers is enough for their doggy midbrains.

There’s no gambling, but they do take chances with each ass-sniff. There are no brothels, but humping abounds. This is Vegas for dogs, and the fun occurs relentlessly.

San Diego prides itself on dog friendliness. Even the stadium the Padres play in (Petco Park) reflects this. There are tons of activities and events for pooches. They are catered to at every other restaurant, and even some beaches are accommodating. The best place for dog-splashing and puppy-sun bathing is arguably Coronado Dog Beach.

Django, #HMPYG’s proud mascot
Photos taken at Coronado Dog Beach


Coronado Dog Beach

To get a feel for the environment at CDB, check out this 30-second audio clip:

CDB is located on Coronado island over the bridge from San Diego. It lies at the far end of beaches. Dozens of breeds are represented here. The most common we saw were corgis. You can also spot dachshunds, bulldogs, German shepherds, pits, Dobermans, pugs, and many others. One adorable sight was a Basset hound whose ears draped down to the sand.

Kyle from Encinitas brings Pippa, his Golden retriever/poodle mix, to this beach all the time.

“This is the best by far. Others don’t allow dogs during the summer, but this is open to them all year-round.”

As I trotted the sands with my own dog, I overheard someone remark how dirty Ocean Beach dog beach is. Ocean Beach, just a few miles away, may be the most popular pet beach. Around us, there wasn’t any trash or feces in the sand. Coronado is a well-kept community in general. It helps when there are million-dollar homes on every single block. There’s no doubt this beach is in nicer shape than OB.

Getting Your Pooch Ready

It’s no secret that this blog uses affiliate links. It’s how we’re able to continuously operate, give charitably, and fund projects like Arizona News Organization.
Here are some suggestions for getting your pooch ready for a smooth and enjoyable vacation. As someone who has taken their dog on many various excursions, I make these recommendations from experience.

Kurgo Dog Harness

This harness is durable and reliable. The Wedding Therapist and I have used ours for over two years now (not this particular one but pretty similar). Django finds it pretty comfortable, and it even survived as a chew toy when he was younger. For tuggers and pullers, a harness is a must-have.

Grain-Free Dog Food

We initially dismissed grainfree food as an overpriced commodity for rich granola dog-owners. However, we noticed some real positive changes once we made the diet change. Django ate less grass, was puking less, had healthier stools, and his coat shined. This food is definitely more expensive than brands like Iams and Purina, but you will likely benefit in the long run from less vet bills.

PoochPlanet Dog Bed

This bed, like the harness mentioned previously, is a favorite because of its durability. It’s also perfectly sized for the car backseat.

It’s a great bed to have for road trips and the bedroom.


Tunes for yourself as you have a glass of vino in the hotel. Tunes for Fido when having some downtime on his own. The quality is pretty superb for this price point. Our jambox has been rocked in San Diego, Mexico, Northern Arizona, and pretty much every other dogcation we’ve taken.

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Don’t hesitate about bringing your pooch to San Diego. It’s almost a guarantee they’ll have a good time. Whether they’re a barhopping Bichon Frise or a Yorkie that just wants to chill on your lap, there’s something for every doggy.



Never heard of back-pooching before? Me neither, until I came across this video:

Meet Penni

Penni is a dog that was rescued from a tweaker pad outside of NYC. Her rescuer, Blaine, speaks about her with great passion:

…to see how she just comes to life when we’re outside, she’s the kind of dog that will turn a cat person into a dog person. There’s not one person that meets her that doesn’t just fall in love with her.

The video above takes place in the Lake Powell area (Utah-Arizona border). When I saw it, there were many questions. How the hell did he get his dog to latch onto his back like that? Where else has this doggy been? Who is this pooch?

It turns out Penni Dog has her own Instagram, which can be found under the handle @pennidog. The photos are stunning. She’s been to snow-capped mountains in Zion National Park. She’s been to the Grand Canyon. Moapa, Nevada. Valley of Fire. Some of the most majestic locations in the Southwest.

Blaine was gracious enough to take the time for an interview. Here’s more on Penni, her life, her story:

Steve/HMPYG: It says on Instagram that Penni was locked in a basement for a year and that you rescued her, right?

Blaine: Yeah, so I was living about thirty minutes outside of New York City at the time and I was looking for a dog for six months. I think I was rejected by four different rescue groups, them not thinking I’d be a good dog owner because I work in an office job. Basically I wasn’t an unemployed millionaire entrepreneur or something, that’s what they were looking for, but, luckily came across her. The story I got was she was locked in the basement of a drug house for the start of her life. I’m not really sure how old she is, it said something like between a year and two years when I got her. She was thrown out of the drug house, picked up by some cops, the cops took her with two other dogs to the pound. They were next in line to be euthanized that day. I’ve stayed in touch with the rescue group, I send them pictures all the time.

Steve/HMPYG: That’s awesome.

Blaine: They said I’d be a good owner, and then, “trust me, you’re going to love her as soon as you meet her.” She was a mess when I got her. She was a huge mess. Between all the physical abuse and then the stress of everything else, she was in awful shape when I got her. I never seen a dog more terrified of everything in my life.

Steve/HMPYG: Yeah I had an abused dog too, and she spent twenty hours a day underneath the bed.

Blaine: That definitely sounds familiar. There was probably six months before I could really make eye contact with her. I just started from day one, just walks every day, and you know, she had sheer panic with every single noise that she heard. She started becoming more trusting of the world. I’d say at two years, everything was manageable I guess. It wasn’t as nearly as stressful owning her and trying to get her to feel normal. I’ve had her a little over three years now at this point. I’d say we’re as close as we’re going to get to rehabilitation. She definitely has strange quirks, particularly when we’re indoors. That previous traumatization is still kind of lingering, but anytime we get outside she just kind of flips a switch. She’s an entirely different dog when she’s outside.

Steve/HMPYG: That makes her around four years old now?

Blaine: Somewhere between four and five, I’m not really sure. I gave her a birthday of fourth of July. I’m saying she’ll turn five on the fourth of July.

Steve/HMPYG: Where do you guys live now? Henderson?

Blaine: Yeah, so, it’s right outside Las Vegas. I got transferred here for work about two and a half years ago, still working for the same company, still doing your standard Monday through Friday. The geography here is just amazing, it’s been the absolute favorite place I’ve ever lived in my life. It’s pretty much every weekend we’re going out somewhere doing something.

Steve/HMPYG: Same. I moved to Phoenix from NY and I have a rescue too. I take him out whenever I can. Where does that video clip take place? Bryce Canyon?

Blaine: No, that was actually a little slot canyon off the side of Lake Powell.

Steve/HMPYG: Oh really?

Blaine: Yeah, we were there last week. A pretty tough-to-get-to spot off of Lake Powell. It’s funny, I didn’t even know anybody was taking video of me, I just kind of had my head down. We stopped on the way to Reflection Canyon. I couldn’t even tell you the name of it though.

Steve/HMPYG: Does she just naturally latch onto your back or did you train her to do that?

Blaine: The very first time it ever happened, it was just after work one day, we just went off to a little scramble up a little mountain outside of Las Vegas. When we got to the very top of this mountain, she cut a pad on one of her front paws wide open. She was just walking so gingerly I winded up just throwing her on my back that day. I think she was like well, I can walk in pain or I can just do this. (laughs) I had her on my back for a better part of three hours before we got back to the truck.

Steve/HMPYG: Oh wow.

Blaine: And ever since then she’s had no problem with that. Every time I throw her on my back she sits perfectly still, doesn’t fight it. She seems pretty relaxed with it.

Steve/HMPYG: Some people might see that and they would say that’s reckless. I think people freak out when they see stuff like that. What would you say to that?

Blaine: It’s not like all this just happened overnight. What I love about taking videos of her is that you can watch her jumping up and down ledges and stuff and seeing how much she enjoys it. The people that see her inside versus outside, knowing the history she’s had, knowing how truly depressed she was before I got her… just the intake papers from the pound where they did the initial assessment on her, it’s the most depressing description of a dog you’ve ever seen in your life. So to see how she just comes to life when we’re outside, she’s the kind of dog that will turn a cat person into a dog person. There’s not one person that meets her that doesn’t just fall in love with her. And it all just comes down to her attitude when we’re going out doing stuff like that.

Steve/HMPYG: What’s the best thing you’ve ever done with her?

Blaine: That’s a tough one…

Steve/HMPYG: I saw you took her to Havasupai, that must have been cool.

Blaine: Havasu was probably some of the most exciting photos. We did probably 35 or 40 miles the three days we were there. She was right by my side the whole time. People get a huge kick out of seeing us go up and down ladders. She’s perfectly comfortable with that. All those photos of her around Havasu Falls/Mooney Falls, one friend after another says, “You belong in travel magazines.”

Steve/HMPYG: Yeah I saw someone [on Facebook] say that and it’s very true. I see that she likes yoga mats. (laughs)

Blaine: Every one I’ve owned fell victim to her, and it’s weird because she doesn’t destroy anything. Since I’ve had her there’s only been two or three things she’s gotten into besides that. For whatever reason, she’s got some special taste buds for the yoga mats.

Steve/HMPYG: You have any words for pit bull haters?

Blaine: I get it…I get it because there’s this social stigma associated with them, there are laws being enacted all over the world that outlaw them. It’s no different than a person. You put a person in the wrong environment, they’re gonna turn out the wrong way. If you want to raise a dog to be like that, raise a dog to be an ugly dog, that’s exactly what you’re gonna get.

Steve/HMPYG: I totally agree. Thank you so much!


The Way a Dog Can Shape Our Cosmos

What is beautiful about Blaine and Penni’s story is the embodiment of small impact. Blaine made the choice to rescue a dog. She went from being close to death to a lifetime of experiences that we all probably envy. Blaine gave her a piggyback ride out of necessity one day, and now she takes to his shoulders like a squirrel monkey. These small things are vastly inspirational. Seeing Penni in Zion might make a procrastinator somewhere stop delaying, and start to take action. She may (hopefully) change some minds about pit bull breeds. Whatever the impact may be, getting to know this story has been a true privilege.

A Final Suggestion

Check out this pet bed from

Furhaven Orthopedic Mattress Pet Bed




Photo Credit: Nick Wrzesinski Instagram: @nick_wrz