Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Brief History of Dog Parks in the United States

A Brief History of Dog Parks in the United States

     My girlfriend Dusty, First Deputy at and I were talking about the local dog park in City Park and we began wondering how, when, and where the first dog parks originated. So, we channeled Saint Rocco,  patron saint of dogs and dog lovers who told us to surf the Internet to get the answer. We looked up some articles and a lady named Jessica Gross had a short piece that gave us all the information we sought.

     It didn't surprise us that dog parks basically began in Northern California, near Berkeley, according to Ms. Gross. We believe it since lots of trends seem to have begun in the west, like television, and the Gold Rush, to name two. Apparently, around 40 years ago, the city of Berkely, California was building a new transit system and tearing down lots of buildings that were in the way. That left a lot of  open land which has come to be known as "green space." Two other ladies, Doris Richards and Gail Green ( Gail GREEN, things that make you go Hmmmmmm. ) got things rolling along and pretty soon the first dog park had been established.

     The first park was a bit of a lark and basically just thrown together, thanks to the initiative of these two lovely women. But once it got organized, the dog park sort of became its own town and in the mid 1980's it was officially incorporated. And like "The Field of Dreams," once the park got built the dogs and humans came. Everything was pretty hunky dory at the park and then the inevitable happened.

      Word spread about how cool the park was and pretty soon like-minded individuals ( mostly women, Dusty surmises ) were calling and writing the people running the dog park and asking how they too could create a dog park. Their model has now been copied in numerous cities throughout the world. In our home town, a great dog park called "City Bark," was created in City Park on March 27, 2010. According to its president, Mary Ann Cardinale, the 10 people who envisioned creating the park were all, you guessed it, women!

        It should be noted that one of the ladies, Doris Richards, who helped create the dog park was honored by the City Parks Department. They erected a giant functioning fire hydrant in her honor.  Before she died Ms. Richards wrote that she felt the fire hydrant honor was "funny and fitting." We do too! 



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