Back in 1992 while on a mountain biking trip, Patrick Kruse saw a friend giving her dog a drink of water out of a plastic bag.
The founder of Salamander Paddle Gear and lifelong dog lover had an inspiration: What if he could make a collapsible water bowl that would make life easier for dogs and their humans on their outdoor adventures?
Two years later, his company, Ruffwear, was officially born. Today, 39 staff members — most with at least one or two of their own happy pups — are based at the Ruffwear headquarters in Bend, just minutes from the base of Mt. Bachelor.
From dog life jackets to backpacks, jackets, leashes, collars and more, Ruffwear has developed thousands of products over the years, refining as they go through testing in the elements by their trusted team of Adventure Dogs — both employees’ dogs and a group of external product testers.
The high desert, mountains, lakes and rivers in their backyard makes for the ultimate testing lab: “If we have a winter jacket prototype that needs to be put through the paces, our dogs are always willing to participate in some real-world testing, says Susan Strible, Ruffwear’s director of marketing.
The company outfits dogs for adventures including whitewater rafting, hiking, backpacking, backcountry skiing, fly fishing and more.
Lucky for you, we rounded up some of the Adventure Dogs’ top trails and dog-friendly spots for their humans to refuel, in and around Bend:
- Bend has eight off-leash areas, which includes Riverbend Dog Park, where dogs can easily access the water and go swimming in the city.
- There are lava patches along the McKenzie River Trail, so Ruffwear’s dog boots come in handy.
- Between Sept. 15 and April 15, the Upper Deschutes River Trail allows dogs off leash. It’s a great stretch of river that can be accessed easily; you can choose to go for miles and get to Sunriver, or as far out and back as you like. Dogs are allowed to swim off-leash in the river any time of year.
- In the summertime, shade and water are important. A favorite is the North Fork Trail in the lush Deschutes National Forest, which starts at the Tumalo Falls Picnic Area and leads to Happy Valley. Spend several hours on the full 6.7-mile loop or a few hours for the 2- to 4-mile out-and-back surrounded by Douglas firs in 50 shades of green.
- Between July 15 to September 15, the Green Lakes Trail is busy, and requires dogs on leash. But it makes the list for its soft trail surface, accessibility to water along the way, log crossings and bit of rock scrambling.
- In the winter, Horse Ridge and Horse Butte, just south of Bend, are good to access when you’re trying to avoid the snow. It’s usually relatively dry, with soft sand that’s easy on the paws, and the views are a nice reward.
- If you’ve got a snow bunny on your hands, dogs are allowed off leash (but under voice command) at Wanoga, Edison Butte and Skyliners sno-parks in the Deschutes National Forest between December and March. Trails are shared with sledders and tubers, but snowmobiles are prohibited in the snow play areas.
- Rimrock Trail, also known as Good Dog Trail, is a favorite among locals — off-leash and less busy, since it’s not well known. It’s on the way to Mt. Bachelor, with riverfront access, and can be strung together as a 5-mile loop or walked for a shorter stretch.
When it’s time to refresh with a pint and some grub, dog-friendly pubs abound — furry friends are not allowed inside, but on the patio. Try GoodLife Brewing, 10 Barrel Brewing, Cascade Lakes Brewing, Crux Fermentation Project and McMenamins Old St. Francis School.