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Puppy Love

How to show your canine companion you care

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BEST FRIEND  Doesn’t your dog deserve some Valentine’s Day affection?
  • BEST FRIEND Doesn’t your dog deserve some Valentine’s Day affection?

If the love of your life is your dog, why not celebrate Valentine's Day with him or her and treat yourselves to a retreat in the North Bay's doggie paradise?

Sonoma County Regional Parks allows civilized, licensed and leashed dogs on most trails. Riverfront Park in Windsor offers a meditative hike around Lake Benoist. Taylor Mountain's easy switchbacks lead up to an idyllic cow pasture where dogs can wonder at grazing black-and-whites who are too big and too busy grazing to notice them.

A flat one-hour walk around Santa Rosa's Spring Lake Park is always perfect. Spontaneous doggy-paddling happens here, but avoid getting chased by an irate goose or an even meaner swan.

Sebastopol's Ragle Ranch Park offers an off-leash enclosed dog area, where Fido can socialize or read his pee-mail to gather notes for his dogma or doggerel.

How about giving your Valentine buddy her annual bath at U-Do-It Pet Bathing in Rohnert Park (6 Enterprise Drive, 707.585.3810)? Or treat her to holistic therapies at Lucky Dog Canine Wellness in Petaluma (luckydogcaninewellness.com)? Or memorialize your pet with a portrait at Pet Food Express in Sonoma Feb. 11 from 11am to 1pm (500 W. Napa St., 707.935.0777)? And when your pup gets hungry, head to Three Dog Bakery in Sonoma (526 Broadway, 707.933.9790) for dog-pleasing "red velvet heart" treats.

Dotting the North Bay are numerous dog-friendly places to stay that not only put up with dogs, but put dogs up, graciously. In Sonoma County, check out Bodega Bay Inn (bodegabayinn.com); the CazSonoma Inn (cazsonoma.com); Cloverdale's Alexander Inn (thealexanderinn.com); the Geyserville Inn (geyservilleinn.com); Glen Ellen's beautiful Olea Hotel (oleahotel.com); Guerneville's Highlands Resort (highlandsresort.com); and the Hotel Healdsburg (hotelhealdsburg.com).

In Napa County, Calistoga's Bear Flag Inn cottage (bearflaginn.com) sports a private, heart-shaped patio, and Napa's Blackbird Inn (blackbirdinnnapa.com) offers comfortable lodging for man and beast.

The best choice on Valentine's Day may be to stay home sofa-snuggling with Fifi under a pile of chewed-up afghans. Read aloud to your pooch—he will lap up every word of The Hound of the Baskervilles. He understands English and knows what you feel before you feel it. His emotional vocabulary, like his olfactory sense, is far more exquisite than our paltry human lexicon.

So on Valentine's Day—when humans stuff themselves silly with designer chocolate bonbons and buy exorbitant long-stemmed roses—you can avoid candlelit prenuptial disagreement by enjoying the mutually unconditional love of your fuzzy, furry, hairless, wire-haired, silky or smooth, shiny and sleek best friend.

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