Sandpoint, ID is a popular skiing destination in the panhandle of Idaho. Located on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille—Idaho’s largest lake—Sandpoint is nestled between three mountain ranges, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.
The Panhandle Animal Shelter (PAS) in nearby Ponderay, serves lost, abandoned, neglected, and abused dogs and cats through adoption, education, litter prevention, and missing pet identification. All dogs who enter the shelter are evaluated for behavior challenges and any issues are addressed by a canine behavior specialist. In addition, the organization works with dog owners to address behavior issues in an effort to keep dogs in their homes. PAS also offers a grant-funded program for low-income households who need to spay or neuter their pet. Eligible county residents can spay or neuter their pet at participating veterinary clinics with 50% of the cost covered by the program.
Additionally, PAS operates a trap-neuter-return program for feral cats to address the issue of cat overpopulation. Funding has been secured to spay or neuter 800 cats each year in Bonner and Boundary counties. Community volunteers humanely trap feral cats, who are returned to their outdoor homes after recovering from surgery at the shelter. This program is effective in part because spayed and neutered cats guard their colony’s territory, discouraging unaltered cats from moving in and repeating the cycle of overpopulation.
Other PAS programs aimed at engaging young animal lovers include Critter Camp—a week-long, animal-centric summer camp—and PAWS to Read—pairing young readers with a furry, non-judgmental listener. A thrift store benefitting PAS provides a substantial portion of the shelter’s operating budget. Annually, about 1,500 dogs and cats benefit from PAS’s programs and services.
From April through September, on the last Thursday of the month, PAS partners with local businesses to host Yappy Hour. Fun-tivities include live music, a fenced-in area for off-leash dogs, and food and beverage available for purchase. Admission is free. Donations for PAS are encouraged.
Worth the walk, Sandpoint’s Dog Beach is where to take your pooch for some off-leash swimming! It can be tricky to find, but the hunt is part of the beach’s appeal. To find the beach, park at the north end of The Long Bridge (near the gas station) and walk south along the paved trail—known locally as the Long Bridge Pedestrian Bridge, denoted as the Serenity Lee Trail on Google Maps—about 5-10 minutes. The beach will be on your left.
At Laughing Dog Brewing, yellow lab Ben collaborates with owners, Fred and Michelle Colby, to create “Fetchingly Good Beer”. When Fred and Michelle toss around new beer ideas, Ben chimes in with one bark for “yes!” and two barks for “no!”. You can sample the fruits of Ben’s labor at Laughing Dog Brewing, where dogs are welcome on the patio. Humans will enjoy dog-themed beers—Devil Dog Double IPA, Alpha Dog Imperial IPA, and Rocket Dog Rye IPA—and food— the Big Dog Wood Fired Pretzel, Black Lab BLT, and Good Dog Flatbread!
You and the pooch will love a shoreline walk along the Pend D’Oreille Bay Trail! From the trailhead next to the Sandpoint Water Treatment Plant, hike 1.5 miles along the shore of Lake Pend Oreille. The trail currently ends at a fence marking private property. Friends of Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, are working to extend the trail all the way to Kootenai. The existing 1.5 miles of trail pass through land that was purchased from a private landowner—with some funds raised by Friends of Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail and some contributed by the cities of Sandpoint and Ponderay. Joint ownership of the trail corridor by the cities of Sandpoint and Ponderay ensures it will remain permanently undeveloped and open to the public.
The 7-mile in-and-out hike at Mickinnick Trail gains over 2,000 feet in elevation in 3.5 miles, granting visitors spectacular views of Sandpoint, the Cabinet Mountains, and Lake Pend Oreille! The trail views are diverse, winding around rocky outcroppings, through meadows, and past old growth timber. The hike is strenuous, so plan accordingly and pack snacks and water for both you and your pooch!