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.
Since we're on the subject of traveling with pets, let's consider visiting national parsk with our pets. Summer visitation at many of America’s national parks is in full swing. People are sometimes unaware of the rules involving pets and pet owners at these national treasures. As I prepare to embark upon a Grand Teton and Yellowstone adventure very soon, and a fall excursion to several Utah parks later this year, now is a great time to review these guidelines.
Pets are welcome in our country’s national parks and can hang out with their humans at picnic areas and campgrounds. However, there are some places they cannot go and there are rules that travelers with pets should be aware of. Those include:
Speaking of accommodations, are there places inside the parks that allow people to stay with their pets other than the campgrounds? In some cases, yes. Hotel accommodations in Yellowstone, for example, are not pet-friendly, but a few of the cabin facilities inside the park do allow pets. Additionally, just outside the national parks’ boundaries are gateway communities in which many hotels can be found, and many of those are pet-friendly. Prepare in advance to review the communities’ lodging options and investigate ahead of time whether or not pets are welcome. Look and book in advance!
Although the parks have similar guidelines because they are federal entities, different parks may have some different pet policies. To learn about the regulations in the park you’d like to visit, log onto the National Park Service’s website at www.nps.gov, find the park you’re interested in, and review that park’s particulars regarding pets.
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.