The Draw of the Dog Park

The concept of the Dog Park

One of the most unique aspects of living in the Southwest has been the discovery of the Phoenix dog parks. These dog parks are maintained through the City Recreation Department and are free for the dog lover and his pet to frequent. They are typically open from early morning until sunset. This allows the pet and his owner a chance to go run and play before the heat of the day or to come and enjoy the park after work. I have found out that they are all over the country and the popularity is growing. These off leash dog parks are a great investment for a city to make when they have a lot that can be fenced off. The investment is not too great and the social aspect is invaluable.

This is a nice break for the pups that have been in a dog kennel all day and want a little exercise. It is a nice break for dog owners that can mix and mingle and form friendships with other like minded people.

It is also a great idea for a dog walker or dog trainer to frequent the park to meet pet owners that might want their services.

The people of the dog park, which are also known as the regulars. They all know one another and they know all the dogs names. These dogs all know one another on a very intimate basis. They greet each other before they even enter the park.

The feeling is the same as the first day back at school when dear friends are seeing each other after a three month absence. It is as much fun to watch the pets interact as it is for the pets themselves. Many regulars bring in their lawn chairs and their coolers, and set up under the same tree each day waiting for all their dog park friends to arrive.It is a great feeling to have avid dog lovers in one place where you can sit and talk for hours about your dogs.

The dogs have a much different agenda. They do not seem to sit together and chat about their owners. They are immediately caught up in the play of the moment. The chase is on the barking out orders at each other and the sheer delight that they feel upon seeing their friends.

They race along the fences and give chase. Then at some point the chaser becomes the chased and they are heading back the other direction. Mouths hanging open smiling into the wind as they run full open after each other.

Gilbert Dog Park

My Dogs at the Park

My Australian Shepherds are completely free when they are at the dog park. They can run together yet they feel free to separate and play with other dogs.

These two litter mates behave almost as one dog when they are at home. But get them at the dog park and they become two totally individual personalities.

The black Tri, Beau, runs from the moment he arrives. He hugs the fence and starts to circumnavigate the entire park. He hunkers down low and takes off. He is a thing of beauty when he runs. He becomes a free spirit that loves to feel the wind in his hair. Only after successfully covering the entire fence line of the park does he wander over to the main group of dogs and introduce himself.

The red Tri, Arrow, runs from one dog to the other yapping and greeting them as long lost friends. She sniffs each dog and never looks twice at Beau while she is doing her meet and greet. She will fit herself into the biggest group of dogs and start to mingle with them. She is not a loner that is for sure.

Once Beau has run off all his extra energy and Arrow has met every dog in the park, they begin to just play and enjoy the time there. Running after other dogs, chasing the Frisbee and chasing the balls. Whatever toys are brought to the dog park will be played with and enjoyed.

There are huge vats of water on either end of the park and all of the dogs greedily drink their fill and share the bucket with any other dog that chooses to wander up. They are totally comfortable with the setting and they knew exactly what to do the first time they came.

On the first visit to the park, it was the humans that were unsure of what to do. The pups knew right away that this park was for them. They were comfortable with the entire experience and their ease allowed us to relax and realize we were just there for the transportation. We were the cab driver aka the limo driver and if we played our cards right, they would let us enjoy some of their time by catching the ball we brought with us.

These pups had secretly read the "dog Park" handbook and were ready for their adventure. They were not like children in that their silly parents embarrassed them. They loved for us to call their name, they would turn on a dime when we call their name and come racing back to us. Running straight to us and then turn around give a quick bark and off they would go again. It was beautiful to see their comfort in this new environment.

It was on the second trip, that we realized they had learned that we would turn right at the freeway exit. They seemed to have already learned the directions to the park . They began to get excited as soon as we made that right turn. They were quick studies about the route we were taking and they were prepared this next time. They both were anxious to enter the park and shed their leads. They pranced in place as we took off the lead and hung it on the gate. They were so ready to play. As soon as they were free off they went, not waiting on the other, it was every dog for himself.

Over to the fence Beau ran.. He had his patrol to make before the festivities could begin. Arrow was already meeting and greeting the new guys that were not there last time. This was their park and they were very happy to be here. This was built for them and they knew it.

Have you ever been to a dog park?

  • No, but now I want to take my dogs.
  • Yes, we are one of the regulars.
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An Invitation

If your city has a dog park, and you have one or more dogs that you have never seen in such an environment, I would invite you to take them at least once.  I think you will find that it is a trip that you will want to make again and again.  If for no other reason than just for the sheer joy that it brings your pup. 

Remember there is a kindred spirit that brought all the other dogs to the park, and you might find a very special group of friends for yourself as well.

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