The Pioneer

Canine enthusiast wins Best of the East Bay award

Photo Courtesy of HikesDogsLove.com

Clinton Louie,
Contributor

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Caroline Stanley spent the past six years researching local hikes around the East Bay. A lifelong pet owner, Stanley was always in pursuit of hikes to take her 11-year-old labrador rescue dog Bailey on.

Last September, Stanley decided to create her website, www.hikesdogslove.com. “I was just sick and tired of looking at these websites, trying to find places where I can take Bailey and finding out that they were not accurate,” she said. “I either found out that I couldn’t take Bailey hiking there, or that it wasn’t dog friendly at all.” Sometimes the directions to the trails weren’t properly listed or the information was old and outdated.

On July 1, the 29-year-old Oakland native learned that she had won Diablo Magazine’s 2016 award for Best of the East Bay Outdoor Resource for her website. “I don’t know how I got the award,” Stanley said. “I never asked my followers to promote the website.”

It was through Instagram that an editor from Diablo Magazine contacted her in March, and asked if they could use one of her Instagram photos for their publication. A few weeks later, a senior editor from the magazine asked if he could write a story about her. After the story was published, the magazine contacted her and announced that she had won an award.

“I never realized that I was nominated, let alone won the award,” Stanley said. “I just got a call from the magazine, and they let me know that I had won”.

As a lifelong dog lover, Stanley always recommended hikes to friends with dogs, and decided to put that information to good use.

She wanted something short, succinct and informative when she decided on the name of her website, “Hikes Dogs Love.” Her website launched in Oct. 2015, and started off with a few recommended hikes, and now has over 100 trails that Stanley has personally visited. Unlike other dog-friendly sites, she does not just list areas, but includes short descriptions and original photographs.

“I’ve gone to all the parks on my website,” said Stanley. “I pride myself on taking pictures of the park and including accurate information and must-see attractions on these hikes.”

The Hikes Dogs Love website currently features 39 hikes. Stanley’s information comes at a crucial time for dog owners in the Bay Area. Places such as the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) announced in April that it would restrict dogs being off-leash in areas such as Ocean Beach, Fort Funston and Crissy Field in San Francisco. Restrictions are currently enforced at these sites from the months of July through May of next year, due to ongoing environmental plans.

There aren’t many resources available that feature dog-friendly hikes in the East Bay. One of these sites, odogparks.org only features 12 parks in the Oakland and Alameda areas.

There are a few major parks, but much of the smaller parks are not included on websites and regularly feature cities like San Francisco while ignoring Oakland and the larger East Bay community.

Stanley makes it a point to go out and find hikes in the East Bay that allow her to spend time with Bailey. Stanley’s website features not only hikes, but a map that showcases places to take dogs. She updates the website on potential dangers that may come up, such as toxic algae bloom that has littered much of the East Bay Regional Parks’ lakes.

Her website also describes activities to take dogs on, such as train rides, camping, and even canoeing.

Hikes Dogs Love has an active Instagram account of about 1,748 followers and features pictures of hikes that she had gone on. Stanley mentioned she mainly attracts followers from California, but also people from Europe and abroad.

According to Stanley, her website couldn’t have happened without the aid of Bailey. When Stanley’s previous dog passed away, she wanted to adopt a dog. After looking for a number of months, she found Bailey on Petfinder.com and went to the Manteca Animal Shelter. At the time, Bailey was five years old, and suffered from stomach and thyroid problems, but that did not deter Stanley from adopting her. The shelter told Stanley she had to wait about two weeks before adoption, as Bailey needed to gain weight before she could be adopted.

Bailey turned out to be a very special dog, according to Stanley. Although Bailey initially couldn’t walk more than two city blocks, she now hikes for ten miles at a time with no dip in energy. Even at the age of 11, Bailey can go for long hikes.

“She came fully trained, and is the best dog ever,” Stanley said. “I know that I couldn’t have trained her as well myself.”

Now, when she takes Bailey out on trails, occasionally people will walk up to them and recognize them. “I’m always surprised to see people recognize Bailey,” she said. “They’ll say that they follow my Instagram account or website.”

Stanley stressed that her website isn’t only for dogs. “I pick these parks, because they have nice trails that are enjoyable to walk,” she said. Stanley also vets these parks, because not all of them is safe.

“There’s a park not too far away from my house that allows dogs, but I don’t feature it, because it’s a high crime area and there was a shooting there not too long ago. I want to make sure my readers visit safe, clean parks that are good, not only for dogs but for families as well.”

For more information go to: http://www.hikesdogslove.com

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Canine enthusiast wins Best of the East Bay award