Here in Harrisonburg, VA, there are no formally designated dog parks. There are a number of reasons for this omission. Here are a few helpful hints to keep in mind when trying to locating dog parks outside of the Portland, OR metropolitan area.
First, take a deep breath and try, try, try to understand that not all communities adore dogs to the extent that they are welcome in public restaurants, much less served water and other refreshments. Surprisingly, in other areas of the United States, dogs that are left outside of urban grocery stores are considered abandoned and neglected as opposed to simply waiting for Their Person to finish purchasing canine treats. Too long of a shopping foray may result in a trip to the pound to bail out your pup.
Another helpful indicator that dog parks are few and far between are – surprisingly – the noticeable presence of working dogs. Parks for doggies to play in are an unnecessary luxury in the usually agricultural areas where our favorite creatures actually work for a living. For those of you with the latest and safest of canine automobile restraint systems, try not to hyperventilate when you spy two or three pups breeze by in the back of pickup truck at 60 mph.
Town councils and rural country administrators are hard-pressed to provide funds for parks for community children, much less our four-footed friends. Dogs are often excluded from small town parks in order to control liability issues as well as limit necessary repairs. Of course, given that rationale, humans under the age of 30 should be excluded as well. At any rate, these are the excuses you’ll hear as Someone in a Uniform advises you to and Fido to leave. And please, don’t even begin to explain how you have special tools to ensure that canine waste is picked up for proper disposal! You may end up in a special place for professionals to evaluate the state of your mental health.
Governmental bodies, rural or urban, rarely plan dog parks in advance. What usually happens is that dog owners and their friends begin to use a public space due to need or preference. Gradually, this space becomes casually designated as “the dog park” by its users and even the community at large. Only when dog owners begin to be ticketed or formally censured by authorities, are protests lodged and the dog owners begin to organize themselves in order to seek the area’s official designation as “a dog park.” The dogs, themselves, would assist in these bureaucracy-fighting efforts but for their lack of opposable thumbs. They remain available, however, to pose for the press camera and video coverage of the fight for an official designation.
And so it goes. So, Harrisonburg, VA doesn’t have a dog park … yet. But there’s one coming at some point.