Yesterday, true to my word, we ventured out of L.A. County on a road trip up the Californian coast to visit Arroyo Burro Beach in Santa Barbara County.
It was a lovely morning and we set off early, taking the slightly less scenic, but faster freeway and got there in under two hours.
Also known as Hendry's Beach, it has a fantastic off-leash dog part, which our ten month old Labrador Cooper enjoyed enormously.
Compared to our usual haunt of Sycamore Cove in Ventura County (which allows dogs on the beach, but 'officially' on a leash), this Santa Barbara beach allows dogs to run along the shore and swim freely in the Pacific Ocean.
Not only was this Cooper's first time in Santa Barbara, but it was his first real swim in the ocean.
Before he has tentatively waded into the waves after tennis balls and frisbees, or to rescue his dad when he fell in, but he's never really swum out into open water on his own.
I'm so glad that he liked it and it was wonderful to see his water dog and retriever heritage come to the fore. Ahh, our pup is growing up into a big strong dog.
I think he was encouraged by the other dogs at the beach who were diving in after sticks and balls thrown for them.
I'm not sure if he was chasing their toys or them more. Whichever, he loved it. That is until a big wave came along unexpectedly and he got a snout full of salt water.
Poor boy, he looked so shocked as he paddled back to shore. After that he seemed a bit less inclined to rush into the crashing surf.
As well as being popular with fellow dog walkers, the beach is also a hot-spot for surfers, sailors and those who like to fish from the shore. There's also an on-leash section of the beach for families and sun worshippers.
I'm glad we arrived early (around 10.30am), as it was already busy and as we'd been warned the free car park gets filled up very quickly.
I've read online that it's rush hour for locals on week nights between 4pm and 8pm, as they all take their dogs for their evening walks after work.
Along with being great stimulation and a change for Cooper (and us), the beach was the perfect place to help him socialise with other dogs when they were playing.
He was so well behaved that we were very proud.
Although we did have a 'Marley moment' when he decided to race after another dog up the beach with me chasing after him.
I think this was more due to his un-neutered frisky state, rather than sheer disobedience, but like every dog he tends to suddenly lose all sense of hearing when he's playing with his pals.
Cooper had a great morning at the beach and swimming in the ocean, and although we may not be able to go every weekend due to the distance, we'll certainly be returning to Arroyo Burro Beach for more swimming lessons.
Fortunately a drive into Santa Barbara afterwards helped us dry out our pup in the sunshine, so we didn't have to suffer too much of a wet, sandy dog on the drive home...