I’m addicted to dog parks.
Does one admit “addiction” to anything other than ill habits? I’ve often felt defensive about this dangerous love if only because discussions about dog parks tend to focus on their negatives — you could get yourselves killed at these places, for God’s sake! The way I see it, every dog park is beholden to specific contexts, moments, and patrons, because they are, by definition, spaces carved out of some kind of community. Rejection of dog parks is not so much a pronouncement of their inherent evilness, but more a rejection of the types of sociality that accompany them — which is fine, as neither human nor dog can be expected to socialize in the same ways. But unlike some more extreme critics of dog parks, I’m less likely to blame the park itself than the people who designed it and established patterns of antisocial use in the first place.
Now, what I call a “dog park” includes many different arrangements. For me, it’s any public space that permits the presence of dogs, ideally off leash. Some are fenced, some are designed with dogs specifically in mind and thus equipped, some are multi-functional areas that just happen to allow dogs, perhaps in designated or segregated spaces. At any rate, we have many to choose from here in the San Francisco Bay Area:
How do you choose, when not all options are created equal? Experiences will vary according to you, your dog, the time of day, the way the air smells at the moment… point is, I don’t know that I can generalize. I just have stories and experiences and a handful of lessons learned through repetition and observation.
Stories behind a jump for length and pictures of bruises and punctures and pain.