Last fall my community opened a fenced-in dog park, the first secured setting specifically for dogs and their humans in town. Although the community had a dog park for many years, it was not completely fenced, and therefore, not secure. In fact, the North Platte River runs next to the park and several dogs have drowned there.
Good for Residents and Visitors
Throughout the nation, dog parks are popular not only for community residents (two and four-footed), but also for visitors to those communities. For example, in Wyoming (the state in which I reside) next to the Cheyenne Animal Shelter is the Nancy Mockler Community Dog Park. This dog park provides highway travelers on I-80 or I-25 ability to rest and stretch their legs … and to provide the same for their traveling furry companions. Rock Springs, Wyoming has the Bitter Creek Bark Park off I-80. This fenced-in dog park includes a water feature and small lake, nice amenities on dry, hot days.
With more hotels becoming pet-friendly, having a dog park in the community is an added benefit for enticing travelers to choose to stop in that town. Having a dog park, especially a fenced-in one, is welcoming to travelers with dogs because people like knowing their dogs are safe. An enclosed park keeps dogs from running away and from running onto busy streets. And, if you're a visitor to a community, one of the last things you want to worry about is your dog being lost!
Dog parks also provide socialization opportunities, again for both the dogs and their owners. While walking or playing with one's dog at a park, a person is likely to engage in conversation with other dog owners … and the dogs are apt to play with one another, running through the park or fetching a ball or other toy. Studies show people who have dogs are more outgoing and engage in more socializing because, well, like with our kids, we dog people like to talk about our furry family members!
Having a dog park provides great opportunities for exercise for both canines and their humans. Getting outside with our dogs to walk, to run, to play, provides our dogs with activity they need for a healthier life … and gives us people exercise and better health as well. And, exercising with our dogs helps strengthen the bond we share with them.
Separate Spaces for Different Dogs
It's my hope my city leaders will create more fenced-in dog parks in our town, and I hope the next one will provide a separate area for older, less active, and/or special needs dogs. Billings, Montana, for example, provides two sections within one large dog park (total of eight acres in size!): one area for active and larger dogs, and a smaller area for the older, slower, more shy, and for disabled dogs. I have a 17-year-old, deaf, nearly blind cocker spaniel, and when we are in Billings, we take him to this portion of the park, while our energetic, eight-year-old springer spaniel rushes around the trees and rock formations alongside more agile labs, boxers, and mastiffs. Having these two separate areas works well for our furry family.
Find More Information
For your summer travels, find out where other community dog parks are located by visiting http://www.bringfido.com/attraction/. You can also find pet-friendly hotel listings on this site.
Spring weather can be wild and wacky, but one thing is for sure: warming weather means more time outdoors. But this better weather and outdoor time spring can also bring out nasty pests that harm our pets.
Fleas and Ticks
Fleas and ticks can cause not just irritation but also great harm to our dogs and cats. According to Web MD, fleas, though tiny, can eat 15 times their own weight in blood, causing anemia in a dog or cat. At a minimum, fleas cause itching; they are known to be the most common cause of skin disease in dogs and cats. Ticks can bring Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever not only to humans, but to our pets as well.
With warming weather, many of our animals spend more time outside. Running through grass, exploring the wonderful Wyoming forests, and encountering other pets while outdoors can bring your dog or cat into contact with fleas and ticks. And your pets can bring these pesky critters into your home. But, you can restrain that exposure.
There are a myriad of preventive programs to curb these pests, and therefore, a pet parent's worry. Talk with your veterinarian about how to prevent fleas and ticks from infecting and affecting your dog or cat. You can purchase preventive measures from your vet directly or from a local pet supply store. You may also want to consult the Pet MD website for more information on fleas and ticks; the site includes a Flea and Tick Survival Guide: http://www.petmd.com/flea-tick-survival-guide#. Learn more about fleas and ticks and their affect on pets at http://pets.webmd.com/ss/slideshow-flea-and-tick-overview.
Flies and Mosquitoes
Fleas and ticks are not the only minute pests to be concerned about. Biting flies and gnats can be obnoxious to humans and their animals and may at times carry disease. Mosquitoes, too, not only pester people, but they also bother our animals. Fur provides some protection, but ears and noses are vulnerable. If you live near a water source or take your dog to your favorite fishing hole or to the lake, you should be concerned about mosquitoes and your pet. In fact, mosquitoes can carry West Nile Virus as well as heartworm, a major disease affecting dogs; cats can also get it. Although Wyoming is not typically a heartworm prevalent state, incidents have risen during the past decade, according to researchers (view heartworm incident maps at https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources/incidence-maps).
In addition to the diseases that our pets can obtain from fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, dogs and cats can be allergic to these tiny problematic creatures. My springer/cocker mix, Mary, for example is allergic to many environmental objects, including grass, some trees, and mosquitoes. The only way my husband and I knew what allergies she has was to get her tested. Yes, it's an outlay of money, but we now know how best to help her and we know to protect her from mosquitoes. So, when we plan to travel to a moist, humid climate or to a lake or river, my husband and I make sure Mary is protected from mosquitoes.
Being outdoors during spring and summer is fun for us and for our pets, particularly our dogs. But remember there are tiny creatures out there just waiting for a warm body, ours and our pets, on which to inhabit. Therefore, take the needed precautions and purchase those preventative remedies to keep your pet from being infected by fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Talk with your veterinarian and keep your furry friend safe this season!
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.