DFA Committee

Proposed Fred Anderson Park – an update!

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Apr 102013
 

We’ve gotten an update about the design of Fred Anderson Park from Michael Lange, the project manager at the Chicago Park District.

The design drawings are almost complete, and we are privileged to be able share the latest with you.  The overall design is very similar to what we’ve presented previously. But as they say, the devil is in the details!  Here are some highlights:

  • The small dog area has been expanded a bit. Good news for all the ‘small fluffies’ in the neighborhood! (a.)
  • There is now one entrance gate, at the southwest corner, shared between the small- and large-dog parks. (b.
  • A bulletin board will be installed at the entrance area. (c.)
  • There will be mounting posts for informational signs at the overlook in the center of the park. South Loop Dog PAC will be assembling material to post there in order to educate kids about dogs and about how to approach them. (d.)
  • An expanded area is now to be covered by dog-friendly artificial grass! This is great news for fetch-driven dogs that might want to play here. The perimeter of the park remains concrete. (e.)
  • There will be an access gate at the east of the park for maintenance, and a second double entry to the dog area. (f.)
  • A space has been designed for a lockbox to store park maintenance materials. (g.)
  • Shade sails will be place throughout the park (light blue triangles in the picture above), including over the performance stage!  There will be benches and tables distributed throughout. (h.)
  • In order to unify the whole area, even the sidewalk along S. Wabash will be integrated as part of the design into the rest of the park. (i.)
  • The water runnels have been reconfigured somewhat; there will be two separate features, one in the small dog area, and one in the large dog area. (j.)

Construction is expected to start by summer, but we don’t really have hard information about the schedule. The park presumably will be completed early next year (2014). It’s going to be a substantial project, involving some remediation of the lot, and the construction of berms and other topological features will take some time.

We have raised one issue with the CPD: According to current plans the dog park will be surrounded by a 6′ high ‘Omega‘ fence.  This is the type of fencing used at the Bartelme Park DFA. We think that a fence this high in a park this small will create the feeling of being in a cage or a prison, and have suggested that the fence height be 5′ – still a substantial barrier. It’s important to us to maintain a relationship between the dog owners in the DFA and the non-dog owning community that may be on the surrounding path or in adjacent park areas.

The board of the South Loop Dog PAC has been in ongoing communication with the CPD about this park since March of 2010. We thank Michael Lange for being willing to listen to us and to incorporate ideas from our dog-friendly perspective. We have to admit – it’s pretty gratifying to see many of our suggestions now implemented. We hope that this experience bodes well for future collaboration between the dog community and the CPD as new Chicago dog parks are designed and built.

As an aside, we’ll also be updating you soon about two other dog friendly area projects in the South Loop that we’re involved with:

  • d’Angelo Park DFA – The story of our efforts to remediate problems introduced from the beginning by the design of this ersatz dog park. 
  • Coliseum Park Dog Run – An update on plans for improvements of the playground and DFA that were recently announced. SLDogPAC will be meeting with CPD representatives next week.  

Finally, we invite any reader to please join South Loop Dog PAC – not just as a contributing ‘member’ but as an involved dog owner. We welcome your ideas, and your thoughts about and support for these projects!

Looking good!

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Mar 212013
 

There’s some good news about the development of Fred Anderson Park and DFA! Watch for an update from South Loop Dog PAC later this week.

Final Fred Anderson Park Community meeting scheduled!

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Oct 182012
 

Save the date!

The final Chicago Park District presentation of their plans for the Fred Anderson Park and DFA at 16th & Wabash has been scheduled for Tuesday November 20th.

This will be an important meeting.  It will be your chance to learn about and comment on the final plans for the new DFA, which will begin construction in 2013.

UPDATE:  The meeting is scheduled for 6pm, Tuesday, November 20th, in the Community Room at the 1st District Police Station, 1718 S. State. 


News about Fred Anderson Park

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Sep 172012
 

On September 4th, the Board of the South Loop Dog PAC met with Michael Lange, Project Manager of the Chicago Park District regarding the new park at 16th and Wabash (Fred Anderson Park), to discuss the planning for the new park and dog-friendly area. Board members Pamela Focia, Doug Freymann, and Gordon Stewart presented a number of ideas that we believe would make the new DFA a state-of-the-art recreational resource for people and their dogs in the South Loop. We outline some highlights here, but Mr. Lange asked that we not release details of the latest plan until the park district presents them at a public meeting.

o The Park District will hold a public meeting to discuss Fred Anderson Park development plans in early October. As soon as the date is released you will be notified.

o As in previous proposals, the current plan includes a small public stage/performance area and a plaza area, in addition to small-dog and large-dog play areas, surrounded by a strolling path.

o We emphasized that providing more than one entry point to the dog park would better serve the community.

o We emphasized that the park surfacing should be a top priority, as coated asphalt is not ‘dog-friendly’. The CPD is considering an artificial, state-of-the-art ‘canine-grass’ surface, which is designed to be and will be built upon a specialized drainage substructure, for easy maintenance.

o We asked that the dog park design be people-friendly as well as dog-friendly in order to promote (people) socialization and community building.

o We asked that the ‘interface’ between the dog areas and outside of them be carefully designed so that educational materials (e.g. ‘how to greet a dog’, ‘what dog breed is that?’, etc.) could be posted to bridge communities, and, particularly, to teach kids about dogs.

o Michael assured us that consideration of maintenance activities is an important element of the design. Service gates that we suggested be added will be large enough to allow equipment access.

o Construction cannot begin until after approvals and bidding are conducted in Spring 2013. The anticipated construction start would be summer 2013 and construction will take several months.

o The proposed DFA will be ‘large for Chicago’, but likely will not be larger than Wiggly Field or Grant Bark park.

We’ve been doing our part to advocate for the best possible dog-park in the South Loop at Fred Anderson Park. But the Board of the South Loop Dog PAC is a small group, and we ask that you, as a member of the South Loop community interested in, and hoping for, a great local dog park, take action, too. Please keep in touch with us, come to our meetings, help us reach out to the public and to the press, and let your Alderman know how you feel.

And watch for announcement of the public meeting in October!

Acadia Park!

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Aug 272012
 

If this doesn’t get dog owners toasted, I don’t know what will.

The latest info comes from the Sloopin Blog: 

What Dog Parks Mean to Me: Gordon and Jake

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Aug 152012
 

To show our support and need for this new dog park, we’re asking South Loop residents and dog lovers in Chicago to share what dog parks mean to them.  You’ve met Kirsten and Ella, Elizabeth and Raul, now meet Gordon Stewart, board member of the South Loop Dog PAC, and his dog Jake.



My dog has been my loyal companion from the day I adopted him from the animal control center 8 years ago. It has been not only my responsibility but my privilege to provide him with everything he needs to be a healthy and healthful member of the community.
He is obviously attached to me, and though not a robot, he obediently follows my lead and commands. He doesn’t run up to strangers wagging his tail but, he could not be interpreted as threatening. Although he is not especially fond of the high energy of children, he will quite tolerantly endure their touch as they learn to not fear all large dogs.
Although frequently aloof, towards most people and animals, he will gently greet both with a wag and a sniff and then be on his way. Sometimes he meets “the right” playmate and may encourage that dog to engage in a chase or even a wrestle of sorts.
That said, I feel that Off Leash Areas are a place to build relationships. My dog and I may, or may not, choose to build a closer bond with others but, either way we will acknowledge and welcome you as a member of the community. Increased encounters cement our bond, either close or distant, and this familiarity breeds a feeling of comfort, safety and often times friendship in this congested atmosphere of anonymity.    

~Gordon

Dog Park Safety: How to keep your dog safe at the park.

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Aug 152012
 
Photo from Web MD

This is great advice from PetBehaviorHelp.com that we wanted to repost for all our readers.  Click the link above to learn more about these 8 tips for keeping your dog safe at the park!

How to keep your dog safe and happy at the dog park
1. ALWAYS WATCH YOUR DOG 
2. Recognize appropriate play
3. Recognize inappropriate play 
4. Teach your dog to disengage from play and pay attention to commands
5. Know when to stay and when to leave
6. Recognize potential conflict zones
7. Understand what to do when corrections, squabbles and fights happen
8. Recognize that the dog park is not appropriate for all dogs

What Dog Parks Mean to Me: Elizabeth and Raul

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Aug 132012
 

To show our support and need for this new dog park, we’re asking South Loop residents and dog lovers in Chicago to share what dog parks mean to them.  The second post in this series comes from Elizabeth Tyson, board member of the South Loop Dog PAC, and her Shih Tzu mix dog, Raul.

Raul was a surprise Valentine’s gift to myself in 1999.  I was single, seeking escape from graduate school, on a rural road trip with my best friend, and her dog BoBo. We were escaping, temporarily, from our academic responsibilities. On this particular escapist adventure, We made a stop to see some dogs. There, I met Raul, a Shih Tzu mixed breed. He was 5 months old then and  lived the first months of his life in a cage. He was born and rescued from a puppy mill, where he suffered and survived a deep cut that left a permanent scar across his back. Yet, in spite of his injury and solitary confinement, he was playing joyfully and lovingly with a companion stuffed rabbit, bigger by 1/2 than his puppy size. This was my first of a multitude of beautiful memories of Raul’s spirit. I wanted to meet and hold Raul. He held me back tightly, looked at me trustfully.  He communicated a need for care and love and I decided then and there to care and love him right back. So, Raul, his rabbit companion, my best friend, BoBo and I completed our road trip that day together.. 
Raul accompanied me through the next 12 years. Yet, despite the arguable fact of life’s uncertainty, Raul was my constant, unconditional source of joy. His visits to our dog park mirrored his joyful, social character seeking other dogs companionship. And, it offered me connection to others in my community.

 Raul and his dog park love:
One great source of joy for Raul was a long walk to our nearest dog park.  Raul loved to socialize.  As we got closer to the Wicker Park off-leash dog friendly area, his little bouncy gait sped to a gallup. Upon entering the dog park, Raul made somewhat of a dramatic entrance. With all his little might and courageous determination he went directly to run with the big dogs. Raul showed enthusiastic abandon throwing himself into the big, ‘cool dog’ play pack each and every visit. And, each visit, inevitably, Raul got rolled, knocked over, body slammed. Often, Raul had occasion to bark admonishingly at rough and tumble bullies in defense of smaller ‘friends’.  Then, inevitably, within a few short minutes, he was pushed out of the big dogs’ play group.  Yet, each time, Raul did not show any sign of sad defeat or retreat to seek my comfort.  No. Raul moved to the park entrance and sweetly assumed his place as, what came to be known by other dog owners, as the  “greeter”.  

‘What a dog park means to me’ is inseparable from my memory of what it meant to Raul. 
So, these are my thoughts about what a dog park means to me in memory of what it meant to Raul. In kind, I should say, I have met my dearest friends at dog friendly parks. These spaces build community, safety through dialogue, and people looking out for one another.

Park Update – CPD Meeting from 8/6/12

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Aug 072012
 

Your South Loop Dog PAC board had a meeting scheduled with Michael Lange (our new Project Manager contact) of the Chicago Park District for yesterday, Monday August 6, 2012.  Unfortunately, Michael decided to cancel the 10:00am meeting at 10:05am when he arrived.

Pam, Elizabeth, Kirsten, and Doug were in attendance and while we were incredibly disappointed Michael cancelled on us at the last minute, in person, after we arrived.  At least we were able to get a few questions in while we stood in the CPD lobby.

What we know from Michael Lange/CPD:  The entire park budget has been increased to $4 million as was announced earlier, but the park is still in the design phase.  They have just been given approval to reengage the architect and are hoping to finish the design by early fall.  If this happens on time they would procure the construction company for spring 2013 construction with a build out period of 90-120 days, but realistically on the later end of that number.  The TIF funds for the park do not expire until the end of 2014 (which was verified by the Alderman’s Parks Liaison Leslie Recht).

What about the dogs?  The whole park is 1 acre total and Michael said the entire park would be dog friendly, a dog friendly area/dfa, BUT he could not confirm how much of the park would be an off-leash area or give us the percentage the dog park would be of the total park.  He commented:

I won’t give a percentage because it’s a spaced that serves the community – whether you have dogs or kids or are by yourself.  

The only other park concern we had time to discuss was the rumors about Acadia having an outdoor dinning space.  Michael had this to say:

We are not designing for any specific vendor in mind.

To date they (Acadia) have no contract with us that I know of. 

Michael said that parks are not designed with specific vendors in mind, but that when the park was built or being built, Acadia could pursue a contract with the CPD for use of the space.  There is a plaza space that will be incorporated into the design, but as of now, it is designed for general use and not being designed for the use of Acadia.

So where are we?  Essentially in the same place.  We’re still waiting for designs to be finalized and are hoping they will be finished and presented to the community in the next couple months.  The CPD is hoping to schedule a community public meeting for early October to sign off on the plans.  In the past year and a half since the revised plan for the park was presented in April 2011 (and was resoundingly rejected by the community) the Chicago Park District has been very tight lipped about the project.  There have been no specifics available to us about further development of the park.  This meeting, unfortunately, did nothing to clarify the CPD’s intentions nor did it reveal how the park design will continue to evolve in their hands.

Want to help?  Leave a comment on this blog, like our facebook page: 16th and Wabash Dog Park and share your support for the new park.  Also, plan on attending the South Loop Dog PAC Annual Member Meeting which will be scheduled for September…we will be discussing the new park!  And as always, we’re always looking for great community members and dog owners to join the South Loop Dog PAC.  More information on membership can be found here.

Thank you for your support!

~Kirsten Agnello-Dean
SL Dog PAC Board Member

Dog Park Success Stories

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Apr 302012
 
Photo by Maggie Smith – freedigitalphotos.net

Waiting for our new park to be finalized and built can be frustrating, but it’s important to remember the success stories that came before.  Here’s a particularly nice piece about Chicago success in creating dog parks from Good News for Pets.  It was written a while ago, before the Montrose Beach even, but it’s a nice read to feel optimistic – just look how far the city has come in a few short years.

Establishing a Dog Park: A Chicago Success Story
By Steve Dale


Just four years, ago there wasn’t a single safe place in this city of more than 750,000 dogs to legally play off a leash. Now, there are ten dog friendly areas with more on the way, including dog friendly beach spaces, which will sprout up along the shores of Lake Michigan next spring.
Chicago’s recipe for creating dog friendly green places requires grass roots neighborhood support. Dog owners and non-dog owners work together creating solutions to problems where they live.


Mayor Richard M. Daley barks, “Most dog owners are responsible people. Like anything else, you have to give opportunities to those people who prove they are responsible. They deserve a place for their dogs to walk and swim. It’s all part of getting along with one another in a big city.”


Read the full story here.


What is a Dog PAC?

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Apr 232012
 



Getting dog parks built takes a lot of support!  Luckily for us, the South Loop Dog PAC (which stands for Dog Park Action Cooperative) has taken the new 16th & Wabash dog park under it’s umbrella, which will make getting support for the new park much easier than if we had gone it alone.  But what is a dog pac?


A dog pac, or park action cooperative, is a membership based all volunteer, non-profit group of dog lovers that helps advocate for our four legged friends in the city.  They’re headed by an 8 member board Here’s the South Loop Dog PAC’s mission

The South Loop Dog PAC advocates for and supports responsible dog-ownership in Chicago’s South Loop.  We provide and maintain safe off-leash areas for dogs and humans to socialize in area parks, and we work to encourage healthy and mutually beneficial dog-human relationships in the community.  

Today, the SLDogPAC is responsible for maintaining the South Loop DFAs, as well as planning and financially supporting any improvements or changes to the dog parks. In addition, the SLDogPAC continues to promote responsible dog ownership, providing socializing opportunities for our dogs and their people, as well as educational information. 

So what do they do?  In 2011, The South Loop Dog PAC:

  • Purchased 20 tons of gravel for Grant Bark Park and installed the 250 feet of gravel retaining mesh in the park.
  • Requested repairs at Coliseum Park Dog Run to get the drains leveled and fences repaired – which are underway now.
  • Organized clean up events at both parks
  • Worked as a liaison with the Chicago Park District for the creation of our new dog park to be created at 16th & Wabash Avenue.
  • Installed a bulletin board at Grant Bark Park
  • Continuously refilled the poo bag dispensers at both parks – 50 times – which is like 20,000 bags!
As you can see, the South Loop Dog PAC is instrumental in creating and maintaining dog parks in Chicago.  If you see their value as much as we do – AND want to help us get our dog park built, please consider becoming a member of the South Loop Dog PAC.  Membership is as little as $40 and comes with a free t-shirt!  Your dog will thank you.
You can also buy a t-shirt, join the mailing list, or follow them on facebook and twitter as well.

 

A Successful Meet & Greet at DoGone Fun

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Apr 162012
 
Our Meet & Greet with the South Loop Dog PAC was a success!  Lots of dogs got in some quality romping and free treats while their human companions learned about the new dog park, became SL Dog PAC members, and munched on chips and guac!  Check out some photos we snapped at the event then hop over to our facebook page to see more photos (and don’t forget to click “Like” if you haven’t already).  
Special thanks to DoGone Fun! for donating the space and doggie treats.  We hope to see everyone at our next event!

10 Ways to Go Green with Your Pet for Earth Day

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Apr 162012
 

Earth day is this Sunday, so what better time to talk about going green with you pup.  The most recent issue of Healthy Pet from Chicago VCAs had a great page devoted to going green with your pet, dogs and cats included.  We only have one planet, so everyone (including Fifi and Fido) should help to keep it looking beautiful.  No matter how big or small your pets are, they impact the environment too.

Photo from PetSide.com

Here are 10 Ways to Go Green from Healthy Pet:
1. Adopt from a Shelter – Why buy a pet when you can adopt one of the millions of cats and dogs that enter shelters each year?
2.  Spay or Neuter Your Pet – By spaying or neutering you’re preventing more homeless pets from being added to the population.
3.  Repurpose What You Own – Old blankets and pillows can become a new dog bed.  The lonely sock that lost its mate can become a catnip toy.
4.  Turn Poop Green – Most of our pet’s poop ends up preserved in plastic bags in a landfill – use biodegradable bags and scoop poop often.
5.  Protect Plants & Wildlife – Keep your dog on a leash when you’re outside and keep your cat indoors.  Dogs may chase and catch wild animals or damage delicate habitats through good-natured romping and relieving themselves.
6.  Shop Sustainable Goods – When shopping for toys and accessories look for products made from recycled materials or sustainable fibers like hemp or bamboo.  Take time to read labels.
7.  Use Natural Products – Clean up after your pet with products that are gentle on the planet and your pet’s senses.  Read the labels!
8.  Make Your Own Treats – Natural and healthy treats for dogs include carrots, popcorn (hold the butter and salt), and select raw veggies.  Always consult your veterinarian first.
9.  Offset Their Paw Print – Purchase renewable energy credits to offset your pet’s carbon emissions.
10.  Go Digital – Ask your vet about microchipping (mandatory in Chicago).  Also, ask to receive statements, bills, etc. from the vet via email instead of printing paper copies.

Two other “green” pet thoughts we might add? 

Make sure to shop local, your local pet shops like Krisers and Soggy Paws in the South Loop usually by items from local or close to local vendors and often focus on natural, healthy, and eco themed accessories and treats – think natural by-product free food from Fromm’s based in Wisconsin.

Also, consider donating slightly used toys, blankets, towels, and more to your local shelters.  The Anti-Cruelty Society and Paws Chicago both happily accept donations of goods to keep shelter pets happy.  If your dog doesn’t play with a toy anymore, why not recycle/reduce/reuse it by passing it on to a pet in need.

Happy Earth Month!

What are some ways you go green with your pet?

Dog Friendly Meet & Greet This Sunday

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Apr 122012
 

Make sure you stop by the Dog Friendly Meet & Greet this Sunday at DoGone Fun in the South Loop!  We’ll be on hand to answer any and all your questions about the new Fred Anderson Dog Park or help you join the South Loop Dog PAC (If you join on Sunday, you get a free t-shirt!)  We hope to see you, and your pooch, this Sunday!
April 16, 2012
11am – 3pm.

The Dog Lover’s Companion to Chicago

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Apr 092012
 

Looking for a book to help you navigate Chicago with your pup?  Check out The Dog Lover’s Companion to Chicago.  It’s a great little book that breaks down the city by section and shares dog friendly places and tips.  The latest edition is a few years old, so you’ll have to double check the places and events listed.  Fingers crossed they’ll come out with an updated version soon!

Check out what they said about the South Loop:

“Residents of the South Loop, some of the most active dog owners in the city, believe there are more dogs in their little neck of the urban woods than in any other neighborhood in the city.  The city clerk’s office doesn’t track pet ownership by neighborhood, so there’s no way to know for sure, but there;s certainly no shortage of friendly furry faces.  South Loop Dog PAC, a neighborhood group of dog owners that created a dog-friendly oasis in the urban jungle, noticed all the canine actions…as well as that dog owners learn each other’s dog’s names before they bother to learn the human’s names.”

They give Grant Bark Park 4 paws up!  Let’s hope our new dog park is open when the next edition of this book comes out.  What are your favorite South Loop dog places?

Dog People Astrology – Find your inner dog breed

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Apr 022012
 
Photo Credit: Idea Go

We recently read Planet Dog: A Doglopedia and loved it.  It’s a great collection of fun dog facts, stories, and info.  Ever wondered about the dogs that were first on the scene on 9/11?  Curious about sled racing, canine acting dogs like Lassie, or Dave Berry’s thoughts on dog behavior?  Check this book out.  A great section we liked reading was “astrology for dog people.”  Here’s what Stacey Wolf, a well public author of psychic books, a stand up comedian, and known for her spot on readings of celebrity, sport, and political predictions had to say about what dog breed’s characteristic you have based on your astrological sign.

Find your inner dog breed

Aries: Jack Russel Terrier.  You’re friendly, very feisty, and completely untrainable.  You have boundless energy to run around and mess things up!  You also like to be the center of attention.

Taurus: Saint Bernard.  You are a big, mushy, loveable, slobbery kind soul.  You love to work and help people with a lick and a smile.  Let’s not forget your stubborn streak, once you get your paws into something, you’re not likely to go soon.

Gemini: Yorkie.  You are really cute, bouncy, very yappy, and best of all, you have really well groomed hair – with accessories to match.

Cancer: Chihuahua.  Everyone things you’re all cute and cuddly, until they get into your space and you want to bite their head off.  “Ruff, don’t touch my bone.”

Leo: Great Dane.  The king of all dogs,  You do everything larger than life, from the way you walk to the way you play. You command attention and have a big, loud bark!

Virgo: Westie.  The dog in you is stubborn and pleasing.  You were once the cutest and best groomed pooches around, and you love to work too.  Once you get into a good bone, you can dissect the thing for hours with energy and determination.

Libra: Greyhound.  Your inner dog is both graceful and classic.  If you had it your way, you wouldn’t use your speed for racing – you’d run from one party to another.  You don’t like to work – just to play.

Scorpio: German Shepherd.  As the master of the universe you are the most intense breed.  You inspire both awe and fear.  YOu are cautious around strangers but love your best friends.  You strut with an air of mystery.

Sagittarius:  Golden Retriever.  One of the friendliest breeds, you love everyone you come into contact with equally.  You are always up for new adventures, but love to come home for a good nap at the end of the day.

Capricorn: Pug.  You are cute and cuddly but balance that with a feisty independent streak.  You are mostly good natured, but every once in a while you give a loud snort if something isn’t going your way.

Aquarius:  Miniature Schnauzer.  You’ve definitely got a mind of your own, but no one can really understand what’s going on in there!  You are cautious with strangers and like to bark a lot – sometimes about nothing.  Opinionated and adventurous, you are always up for a good sniff.

Pisces:  Toy Poodle.  You just want to cuddle up to someone you love all dat long, do nothing, get carried everywhere, and never let your feet touch the ground.  Being treated like a princess or prince isn’t bad either.

What was your dog breed according to the stars?  Do you agree?  Does it describe you?

Unexpected Benefits of Dog Parks

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Mar 262012
 
Photo from South Loop Dog PAC

We all know about the benefits for dogs in dog parks (like socialization, excursive, stimulation, etc) but what about some of those less obvious reasons?  Dog parks offer a host of benefits…even to those that don’t have a canine companion or choose not to use the park at all.  Here are our top three favorite unexpected benefits to building a dog park.

1.  Green Space – Trees give us necessary oxygen and plants have been proven over and over again to make people happy, literally.  Wouldn’t you rather a vacant lot be turned into a place for greenery than remain vacant, weed filled, and a collection space for debris and trash?

2.  Less Poop – As you know, abandoned dog poo is a problem (if you don’t already know – just check out South Poop to learn all about the South Loop poop epidemic), but give all those doggies a place to play and poop, and their owners some free bags, and they’ll be less poop on the sidewalks.  Plus, dog owners are more likely to pick up their dogs poop (or even someone else’s) inside a dog park than a random lot or sidewalk.

3.  Safer Parks for Kids – A common parent complaint is about the danger off leash dogs pose to children playing in parks.  They’re worried Fido will knock over their little tot as he frolics in the grass.  With a designated place for dogs to play, kids can roam without fear of being disturbed by dogs, and vice versa.  Running dogs probably don’t like kids getting in their way either.   And building more and more dog parks mean that people will be able to use them with ease and not have to resort to letting their dogs off leash in people parks.

Can you think of any other unexpected benefits of dog parks?

How to Create a Dog Park

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Mar 192012
 

Here’s another great page from Planet Dog on how to get a dog park built in your community.  We’re well on our way, but this list of 13 steps is a good reminder of just how much work it actually takes to get a dog park built.

The dog lovers at the Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA in San Mateo, California, have developed the following strategies for successfully getting a dog park created:

1.  Start with a core group of committed dog park activists
Talk with a half-dozen other dog lovers who are concerned about the lack of off-leash spaces.  These may be people you already know – or you can put a notice in the local paper to find more dog-friendly folks.
2.  Hold a public meeting
Once the core group is in agreement, a larger community meeting will help you get the word our to supporters and solicit input and suggestions.  Encourage people to write letters in support of a dog park to public officials and the media and to make presentations to community groups whose backing would be valuable.
3.  Educate your fellow dog owners on the need to be responsible
People who neglect to pick up after their dog or who allow and aggressive or unsocialized animal to run loose can do a lot of damage to your cause and your ultimate chances of success.   Your mission should be twofold: establishing a off leash dog exercise area and promoting responsible canine care.
4.  Write a clear mission statement
Write a mission statement that details the need and purpose of the park, stressing the benefits to dog owners, their canine companions, and the greater community.  A suggested statement: To establish a fenced-in, off-leash dog park where well-behaved canine citizens can exercise in a clean, safe environment without endangering or annoying people, property, or wildlife.  To develop a beautiful, well maintained space open to all dog lovers and friends who are willing to uphold the park’s rules and restrictions.  To view this park as a community project designed to satisfy the needs of dog owners and non-dog owners alike.
5.  Demonstrate Need
Gather statistics on the dogs and their people n your community.  How many dogs would use a dog park?  What are the demographics of the people in our city?  Who currently uses city parks – and who doesn’t?  Downplay the “dog factor” and emphasize people issues.  Remember, dogs don’t play taxes or vote.
6.  Demonstrate Support
Activists found that a simply worded request circulated on a petition, helped convince city officials that there was indeed both a need and widespread public support for a responsibly run dog park.  Place petition gatherers at supermarkets, pet supply stores, and other high-traffic areas.  Enlist the support of local veterinarians, groomers, dog walkers and others who have a real Internet in having a community filled with healthy, well-socialized dogs.  Involve them in gathering petitions, writing letters to the editor of local papers, and generally spreading the word.
7.   Create a Budget
Determine how much it will cost to construct and maintain the park – include costs for grass, fences, garbage removal, lawn maintenance, drinking water, field drainage, lighting, benches, and a pooper scooper area.  Some cities are willing and able to finance a dog park; others would rather share the cost with a group committed to maintaining the park and ensuring the park’s rules.
8.  Solicit the input and seek the approval of significant organizations in your community.
Talk with the proposed park’s neighbors before talking to city hall.  As soon as someone puts up a serious red flag, pay attention to it; don’t ignore it or fight it, and try to come up with a solution.  If it really is impossible to resolve at least you’ll know what you’re up against.   
9.   Be prepared to address a range of concerns…
…including the risk of dog fights, dog bites, increased noise level, parking and traffic problems, and liability and maintenance issues,  Explain why some of these are non-issues and have a plan to address the ones – such as traffic and noise – that are legitimate
10.  Ask your local SPCA for help and a letter of support.
11.  Get to know local officials
Your city council members and the director of your Department of Parks and Recreations.  Attend meetings, join them at fundraisers.  Find our what they need from your to move the dog park forward.
12.  Request a hearing with the city government
When you’re ready, request a hearing to discuss your proposal.  Have two or three carefully selected, knowledgeable, and articulate members of your group present your plan, clearly expressing its many benefits to the community and calmly addressing any concerns.
13.  Be patient
Dealing with city government is rarely a quick deal.  Though you may find yourself running with Fido in the dog park of your dreams within a year, it could just as easily take several years to create.

As always, we’ll keep you updated on the latest for the Fred Anderson Dog Park!

10 Reasons Dog Haters Should Support Dog Parks

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Mar 122012
 

Here’s a great excerpt from the book Planet Dog by Sandra and Harry Choron.  It’s a greenly colored book full of dog trivia and interesting stories and helpful tips.  If you know someone who is against dog parks, email them this post!

10 Reasons Dog Haters Should Support Dog Parks

Gary Merrick of Southay Dog Parks writes “One of the things that has surprised me since getting involved in promoting dog parks is the fact that some dog haters and off-leash advocates are both arguing the same points from two different perspectives.  The solution is the same for both parties.”  Here are some reasons that dog haters should not oppose off-leash dog parks:

1.  Having well-exercised and mentally stimulated dogs means less barking, less destruction, and generally fewer dog-related problems for your neighborhood.  Wouldn’t it be nice if your next-door neighbor could do something to quiet Spot’s barking.

2.  Since dogs would have their own park, parents of young children wouldn’t have to worry about dogs in the playground.

3.  No more dog poop in the middle of the soccer field.

4.  We could finally move one step closer to reducing the number of serious dog attacks by noting that statistics don’t change after implementing a dog park.  The police and Animal Control can then concentrate their efforts on the aggressive, unsocialized dogs that actually cause these problems.

5.  An uninvited canine participant would no longer interrupt your outdoor activities.

6.  Dogs behind a fence could no longer bite you, attack you, or run through your yard.

7.  Dog-related noise would be limited to park hours (generally seven a.m. until sunset).

8.  Depending on the location and circumstance, the presence of dogs may deter crime or loitering.  Dogs are all bad aren’t they?

9.  Dog haters won’t have to spend nearly as much time calling animal control.

10.  Everyone can enjoy a more harmonious existence.

What do you think?  How would you help dog haters see the benefits to them of a dog park?