Alphie loves nothing more than an afternoon at the dog park. Around my little red Chow-mix, words such as P-A-R-K and P-L-A-Y need to be spelled out, or she'll instantly go into a tail-wagging, barking, jumping frenzy. Yes, when I put on that certain pair of boots and grab the water bottle, baggie of Milk Bones and her favorite, purple leash, she's the happiest pooch on the planet.
For dogs, their human families and neighborhoods at large, dog parks are a great resource. Under his owner's watchful eye, Fido can legally frolic without a leash and run with other dogs in a safe, enclosed park-like area. Well-exercised animals, and their people, are happier and healthier, and dog parks offer socialization for people as well as their canine companions. Dog parks also allow dog-lovers to simply enjoy watching the animals play.
Since September 2002, TREATS, or Tremont Residents Empowering Animals to Socialize, has been campaigning for a dog park in Cleveland, pointing to success stories such as the Lakewood Dog Park, which opened in 2003.
The group had originally petitioned for a $15,000 Lincoln Park location, but "the city's vision was a bit larger," says TREATS co-chair Becca Riker. A new $100,000 park, located in Clark Field's abandoned tennis courts, was slated to open June 24. The park was funded by the city and two grants from ParkWorks and Neighborhood Connections.
"The city was very supportive of the idea, just not the original location," Riker says.
Cleveland's first dog park is just over an acre in size and, though under construction at press time, will include a state-of-the-art drainage system, gravel-covered lot, a grassy area with benches and young trees, a double-gated entry system, waste stations and a dual water fountain, one for the pups and one for the people. Also in the works are picnic tables, a shade canopy and an information kiosk.
"Putting a dog park in Clark Field will turn it into a place people will really want to go," says Riker. "It's going to be something that brings neighborhoods together and will be used year round."
Other area dog parks include the Lakewood Dog Park (1299 Metropark Drive), Eastlake Doggy Park (Woodland Park off Lakeshore Boulevard), Medina Dog Park (Memorial Park off East Homestead Street) and the Brunswick Dog Park (Cross Creek). In addition, some unofficial places where people let their four-legged friend roam free (yet supervised!) include the Bay Village Dog Beach (intersection of Columbia and Lake roads) and the Sunday morning walks in the North Olmsted Metroparks off Cedar Point Road. It is important to note that these spots are unofficial, so unleash at your own risk.
For more information on Tremont's Clark Field park, other area dog parks and additional dog park guidelines, visit www.clevelanddogparks.com.
• Pick up after your dog's waste.
• Keep your dog on a leash until inside the designated area.
• Have your dog's leash handy.
• Fill any holes your dog digs.
• Keep voice control and act immediately if your dog becomes aggressive.
• Bring water for your dog.
• Leave your dog unattended, ever.
• Bring a dog with ANY history of aggressive behavior or who has not been socialized with other dogs.
• Bring more dogs than you can watch.
• Bring a dog without a valid license and up-to-date vaccinations.
• Bring dogs less than 4 months of age.
• Bring dogs that haven't been spayed or neutered.