For anyone in the Richmond area (or anyone whose visiting with a dog), I highly recommend a section of the James known as Texas Beach. This is by far the best dog beach I've ever been to. Hans and I went there a couple of weeks ago and just had a blast. Plus, Cody was exhausted. But before I tell you how great a time we had, I should probably describe what it's like.
When you get there, you first look at the neighborhood you're parking in (not the nicest), but then you see all the people around and figure it must be ok. Next, you'll start walking down a trail. Once you're on the trail, you can actually let your dogs off-leash!!!! This was a huge deal for me. Of course, I would only do this if your dog is well trained, and you know you won't lose him/her. The area is NOT fenced in. For those of you who are not water-inclined, there is a trail that lead uphill. It's actually a bike trail, but you can walk it as well. It's a good adventure spot. However, for those who like to get wet, take the trail down hill. Be warned that it is a little steep, so wear good shoes. I recommend old keds or something else you can walk in, but also wouldn't mind getting in the river.
Once you reach the base of the hill, you follow the path for a little ways farther, until you come to a slightly sandy area. There's not much of it, but this is the beach. I was thrilled by all the dogs there. The people who are there expect their stuff to get wet, so no one is upset when wet dogs kick sand on their towels. By the time we got there, the sandy area was filling up, so we just waded a bit into the water and found a nice rock to recline on. Then we sat back and watched Cody play.
We had a blast watching the dogs meet each other in water. They still try to circle and sniff each other, but only their heads are visible. We had even more fun watching Cody exhaust himself. Like I said, we were reclining on some rocks. The James is a bit rocky (hence why I recommend wearing shoes you can get wet), but that's what makes this river so great for dogs. Cody would jump into a deeper area, swim around a bit, and then climb out on a rock when he was tired. I actually think he made a game with the currents. He'd jump in, swim to the higher currents, paddle against them for a bit (like a water treadmill), let the current carry him for a few feet, and then swim back to us. Then, he'd start the process all over again. Of course, I had my eye on him the entire time to make sure he wasn't in danger, but he just seemed happy the entire time. When he got a little too tired, we put a life vest on him to help him out, but after only 2 hours at the beach he slept for 2 days.
So to get there take Meadow St all the way until it ends. Then turn left on Kansas, followed by a right on Texas. When you reach the end of Texas you're at the parking lot for the beach. Good luck, and enjoy!