With the South Texas Summer heat bearing down on us, it’s easy to forget there’s an outside world when we work, and often play, indoors. It’s easy to just prop your feet up when you get home and try to convince your dog there’s no need to go outside until that blazing hot sun goes down.

And we wonder why we’re packing on those extra pounds.

Getting out and about with your pooch is a good way to get rid of your “pooch”. Besides the obvious benefits for you and your dog from the exercise, it’s a good way to make sure your pet doesn’t start to feel unappreciated.

It’s also a great way to meet new people if you’re into that sort of thing. You’ll be healthier, your pet will be happier, and your social life might just get a boost. What’s not to like?

With those points in mind, I sat down with Thor, the Dog of Thunder, and asked him about his favorite things to do. Don’t judge me.


Thor on the Road

Let’s be honest here. One of your dog’s favorite things to do is stick their head out the window and let the wind blow in their face while you drive them down the road. That means that actually getting there is half of the fun for your pet.

Take advantage of the sunny weather we’re having and make sure your dog has a front row seat to the outside world. If your dog is anything like Thor, they might get a little excited about actually being out and about so it’s a good idea to make sure they are already in their harness with leash attached so you can make sure they don’t get carried away or there are any accidents along the way. I typically use the seat belt in conjunction with Thor’s leash to make sure he has the freedom to put his head out the window but not enough slack to get out of the car on the off chance he forgets we are in a moving vehicle.

Now that we’re all buckled in, enjoy the ride. Listen to the radio, sing to your dog… Thor doesn’t mind that I sing off key and never critiques my performances so long as he gets to put his head out the window. If the windows are up, on the other hand, well, Simon Cowell has nothing on my mutt.

For a scenic drive, I recommend Riverside Park. Swing by the Duck Pond and let your dog see the birds. I recommend against letting your dog chase them, however. There’s one duck out there that has become Thor’s archenemy. Long story.

Ultimately, we’re looking for a place to spend some quality time with our pooch that don’t involve an open window and dodging windblown dog slobber. That’s where the next few places come in.


Walking Trail

The Walking Trail that begins by Victoria East High School is practically tailor made for long walks with your favorite canine. There are intermittent stops along the way that provide plastic bags for disposing of doggy waste and the walk is a long winding affair that crosses several streets along the way and ends at Airline near the Memorial Stadium.

Along the way, you’ll see a variety of nice neighborhoods, find plenty of things for your dog to sniff at and explore, and likely meet a few other dog owners and/or fitness nuts along the way. The majority of the trail is a nice even path meaning you and Fido won’t get worn out too quickly climbing up and down hills along the way.

The view along the trail is quite scenic at this time of year and you can avoid the worst part of the heat by exploring the trail in the early morning or late evening. It isn’t so far off the beaten path that you can’t make a few stops along the way and accidentally lose your way and there’s almost always some form of foot traffic if you’re in the market to meet some new people.

Bring a bottle of water with you if you do decide to take your chances sometime around midday. Not only you but your pup need to stay hydrated. It’s a good idea to have water along the way regardless of what time of day it is. The point here is to spend quality time with your pet, not make the two of you absolutely miserable.


Thor on the slide

The Ethel Lee Tracy Park is an excellent spot to visit if you’re more interested in a bit of play time with your pet as opposed to an excess of walking.

If your pup is the adventurous type, there’s a playground where they can spend their time. There’s a considerable amount of space to run around in if your dog is well behaved around other pets and people. Let them off the leash for a while if the mood and company is right.

Nestled behind the Victoria Mall, there’s not too much car traffic but there’s enough that you’ll want to keep an eye on your dog. Thor is the type that prefers running in grass over running on asphalt but I always keep an eye on him because he’s not entirely convinced that he’d lose a fight against the big metal critters he keeps seeing out there.

There are plenty of shaded areas to rest in if the heat gets to you. Again, bring some water with you when you visit. You can leave it in the car if need be but as with the walking, it’s a good idea to stay hydrated in the summer heat.



One of Thor’s absolute favorite places to visit is PetSmart. He loves to see other pets and their owners. He’s also fond of riding around in the shopping carts but I’m somewhat certain that he just likes being lazy while I push him around. I could be wrong.

I use the visits as an opportunity to see how Thor reacts to certain types of toys. All too often in the past, I’ve made purchases based on what I thought would be fun to play with as a mutt and almost always, those toys go untouched after an initial, thorough sniffing. I’ll let him get a good look at what I’m picking up and if that tail starts wagging, I know I might have a winner on my hands. Letting him sniff it will confirm my suspicions in a timely fashion and then we can continue our visit.

Thor has the misfortune of living with two cats and a bird. It means he doesn’t have much of an opportunity to spend any time with other dogs. A quick visit to PetSmart often means a chance to visit with some other dog owners, at least for a short time, before he loses interest in the other pets and just wants to get back in the cart and be wheeled around.

Usually, Thor is worn out by this point of the day and is ready to get back in the car and relax. The interest in hanging his head out the window is often slacked by this time and he’s content with just resting in my lap. Which is why the next stop is one of his favorite of the day


Quiet Time

As much as Thor loves getting out of the house, one of his favorite things to do at day’s end is just lay next to me while I read. It’s a good time for him to try out any toy I might have picked up for him at PetSmart and is one of the most enjoyable portions of my day as well.

Quiet time with Thor is the perfect end to a long, stressful day and is something I look forward to on a daily basis. It’s times like this that I’m thankful for his company. He’s a good dog and while he’s 100% certain he runs things on a daily basis, I’m okay with it because he’s a well behaved and loving pooch who likes to keep me on my toes when we’re out and about.

So there’s Thor’s Top 5 Places to take your dog. It’s a good bet your dog would like the same so don’t let this heat get you into the habit of not getting out and about. There’s a lot of friendly people and pets out there who’d love to meet you and your best friend.

Thor is a brindle Shih Tzu who is absolutely certain that he is a much bigger dog. His bad habits include incessantly licking the sofa, peeing on things that remind him of my ex-girlfriend, barking at anything that moves outside of my home, and a penchant for wanting to snuggle as closely as possible no matter how hot it is.

His good traits far outweigh his bad and he's easily one of the smartest dogs I've ever owned. Fiercely loyal, braze to a point of being silly, and as affectionate as I can stand, he's picked up a few of my quirks along the way but that makes him even more loveable.

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