Wines and Canines Combine in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara becomes a paradise of dog-lovers, wine-lovers and walkers in May during the Santa Barbara County Half Marathon. Photo: ASPCA

SANTA BARBARA, CA, March 9, 2013 — If you like wine, walking and dogs, then here’s a way you can still register for the sold-out 2013 Santa Barbara County Half Marathon in May and make a date to enjoy all three inside the setting of the stunning California coastal wine country.

Team ASPCA is inviting dog lovers to join in its national program that combines endurance with fundraising to support the charity’s life-saving services and programs for millions of animals in the USA. As a member of Team ASPCA, you’ll run or walk, or both, along the golden Santa Barbara byways and vine-lined trails of Santa Ynez Valley on May 11.  Aim to meet your fitness goals, socialize with other animal lovers, bond with your pet pals, and fight animal abuse and homelessness.

Team ASPCA will gather at the Dos Pueblos High School, 7266 Alameda Avenue in Goleta, at 7:30 am. The official starting line is at Sagunto St. in Santa Ynez. Participants must be able to finish the 13.1 mile course in less than 3.5 hours, keeping a 16-minute /mile pace or better. Needless to say, this event is for serious runners or power walkers, and that means training for the event should start as soon as possible to ensure a pace that keeps up with the pack on race day. 

The reason this annual event is so popular has everything to do with the race location. Participants take a journey through the breath-taking views of the Santa Ynez Valley in a day of endurance, fun and good deeds that all  culminates at the Wine and Music Festival at Solvang Park.

Although dogs are not allowed in the race, they will be invited to join in the celebration, waiting for their owners to cross the finish line at the post-race Wine and Music Festival. Friends and family members not inclined to run or walk can also assemble at Solvang Park located at Mission Drive and 1st Street for the party that starts at 9:30 am and ends at noon. Featuring more than 15 local wineries and breweries, members of Team ASPCA can drop their pet off at the official Bark Park to play with other canines on race day while their guardians help homeless, abused and injured animals and reach their personal fitness goals. There will also be adorable adoptable dogs there waiting to be matched with their forever homes. To join the wine tasting festivities, pre-purchase your wine glass (only $20) and pick it up in the park’s wine tasting area.

With perfect Spring weather cooperating, participants can head to the hills with or without their pets for hiking, biking and running; or to the white, sandy dog-friendly beaches of the Santa Barbara coast surrounded by the Sierra Madre Mountains and the many vineyards of this coastal capital of pinot noir.


Solvang, CA (Credit:



For wine lovers, dog lovers and marathon movers, the village of Solvang can be reward enough for attending this event. According to the Solvang Visitor’s Bureau, “Visiting Danes have described Solvang as ‘more like Denmark than Denmark’ - a remarkable tribute to the town’s passion for Danish architecture, cuisine and customs.” Sunset Magazine tabbed the town as one of the “10 Most Beautiful Small Towns” in the Western United States.

Dog-friendly shops, cafes and inns abound in this little California Copenhagen by the sea. These include the Book Loft and Lemo’s Feed and Pet Supply. Dogs are invited to join their humans at the Wondering Dog Wine Bar, featuring more than 200 wines from around the world, and the 39-acre Buttonwood Farm & Winery,. My favorite winery in the Santa Ynez Valley is Carivintas Winery, which cultivates an extreme dog friendly setting with water bowls, dog beds and special dog treats. Blending philanthropy with delicious wine, all the art labels from this vineyard feature rescue dogs. My own pets, Baldwin and Bliss were the models for a white table wine a few years back. You can also rescue a new furry family member during the 2nd & the last Saturday of each month when Carivintas teams up with a local Animal Shelter for “Adoptable Pets” day. 

Several Solvang restaurants invite canine customers to join their guardians and pets are allowed at some of the old-fashioned hotels around town, including The Wine Valley Inn, where room rates start at $115 a night and include complimentary breakfast. A one-time $50 per pet fee for guests will cover the entire stay. There are fireplaces and private gardens, and the inn offers a spa, fitness center and free Wifi. The Inn is located near the Los Padres National Forest. Quick Silver Ranch nearby is a fun attraction that features miniature horses barely bigger than dogs.


Team ASPCA is the charity’s national training and fundraising program designed for people who want to make a real difference for animals in need. To sign up, visit the Team ASPCA information session online.

Team ASPCA participants receive:

* Official race entry into the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon
* Pre-race Training from professional coaches in your neck of the woods
* Access to Team ASPCA events including the race kickoff, pre and post celebrations and entrance to the private Team ASPCA tent at the finish line
* Reach your personal fundraising goal with help from the Team ASPCA Alumni

Contact or call (866) 661-ASPCA (2772) for more information.


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Susan Hartzler

As a consumer dog product and service expert, Susan Hartzler is up to date on the latest trends for dogs and their guardians. Dogs are her passion; so naturally, the subject is something she knows about from both a personal and professional basis.

An award winning writer, Hartzler is a contributor to New World Library’s “Dogs And The Women Who Love Them,” an Oprah pick, and Simon & Schuster’s best selling “Divinity of Dogs.” A short story she wrote about her first therapy dog, Baldwin, was published in Animal Wellness Magazine and awarded the Angel on a Leash Award from the Dog Writer’s Association of America.  Hartzler has developed a loyal following of dog lovers for her serial blog,, a personal journey about dogs and men. She and her dog Bliss are a therapy dog team and visit children in the oncology ward at County USC Medical Center. For more information, please visit


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