Dog’s day at the beach: Lake level leaves little room for people but lots of fun for pooches |

Dog’s day at the beach: Lake level leaves little room for people but lots of fun for pooches

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Joanne Thomas-Smith plays a game of fetch with her yellow Lab, Shasta, at Kiva Beach on Thursday morning.

Rapid snow melt swelled the Upper Truckee River, turned meadows into bogs and, to the delight of aquatic dogs, created more swimming areas for canines.

Off Highway 89 at Kiva Beach – the so-called and much-debated “dog beach,” – the spring runoff has created a marine oasis for swim-happy dogs as an inflated Lake Tahoe covers most of the shore, nearly lapping stairwells accessing the area.

What’s left is a 3- to 4-foot swath of sand for humans. Throw in the competitiveness to grab a good spot for catching rays, tossing a ball and creating a suitable perimeter for dog leisure, and the real estate at Kiva Beach has jumped in value.

Holding a cup of Starbucks coffee and presiding over the swimming of Bailey, an Australian Shepherd Border Collie, Lorna Lefler and Pat Roseblade were surprised at the loss of lakefront.

Roseblade opined the summer crowd would lessen as “only the true dog owners will show up.”

“(Bailey) doesn’t mind because he gets to go in the water,” Lefler said.

JoAnne Michael was at the beach two weeks ago with her two dogs, Titan and Harley. Michael thought the high lake level and minimal beach was typical for this time of year.

“I don’t think it’s a permanent summer issue … It’s just been so warm so quick and we had all that late snow in March,” she said. “I mean, it’s just the peak runoff right now.”

On Thursday, the lake’s surface elevation was listed at 6,228.4 feet. The upper limit is 6,229.1. Federal Water Master Garry Stone, stationed in Reno, said Tahoe City damn releasing water from Lake Tahoe into the Truckee River might be opened in early June.

Stone said a forecast by the National Resource Conservation Service due June 1 will provide an assessment of how much and for how long water will be released. Stone assured the speed of the water flow won’t “affect the downstream rivers.”

Sid Smith and Joanne Thomas-Smith were throwing a ball for Shasta, a yellow Labrador at Kiva Beach. The three, from Strawberry, were beginning a road trip around the lake and hoped to tire Shasta for the ride.

“Instead of the casino strip it’s a dog strip,” Thomas-Smith said about the beach.

“I don’t know if you can call it a beach,” Smith said.

The two have owned Shasta for two years. Thomas-Smith remarked Shasta, for the first time, was chasing ducks, swimming nearby.

“Well, they’ve never been this close,” Smith said.

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