August 26, 2009
A dog cools off at a Broward Co. Park
Ah, summer. In most parts of the country, people wait all year for the pool/beach/park weather. But not us South Floridians. We have hot, sunny days for half of the year. Of course, the rest of those days are rainy (and unfortunately for our dogs, with no chance of meatballs) with a spattering of cool weather. Because of this, we usually take the summer days for granted. We vacation with our children, have events to attend (it’s ridiculous how many weddings take place here in the summer months) or we work, work, work. And before you know it, it’s August, and the kids are back in school. But where are the Dog Days of Summer? Well, August 26th is National Dog Day, and to help celebrate, here are some tips on how to spend some time with your four-legged friend.
A puppy plays catch with its owner
The days are still warm, and with school in full swing, our canine companions are once again going to be left behind as their families all leave the house day in and day out. But why not give them somewhere to go as well? Visit one of the many dog parks and beaches that will have your pet so pooped, he’ll almost not be able to eat. Almost.
Dogs make friends at a local Bark Park
A few of the beaches in Florida have small areas set aside specifically for owners to bring their dogs. Here, your mutt can mingle, your Rottweiler can run, and your schnauzer can swim. Of course, you have to clean up after your pooch, otherwise the county will shut down the doggie area. Some of the places you and your pup can sunbathe together: John U. Lloyd State Recreation Area in Dania, Hugh Taylor Birch State Recreation Area in Fort Lauderdale, Harbor Beach in Fort Lauderdale, Canine Beach in Fort Lauderdale, and South Pointe Park in Miami Beach. Be prepared – most of these places require a small entry fee or parking cost. And of course, your dog must be vaccinated against rabies.
Dog Parks have become increasingly popular over the years. Those without backyards think they’re a lifesaver for their high-energy dogs, and others bring their canines for some friendly butt-sniffing. But beware, there are some things you should know before you go.
Firstly, there’s always the chance of your dog running into an aggressive dog. They shouldn’t be there, but of course the owner always thinks their dog is “just playing”. So if your dog is really submissive, or is defensive to the point where it retaliates, the park may not be for you. It goes both ways: please, if your dog plays by picking on other dogs, don’t bring them. Also your dog, along with the proper vaccines, really should be protected against pests. Your pet may be flea-free, but that doesn’t mean the others are. You really don’t want ticks hitching a ride home on your pooch.
As for you, wear something you would wear if you were painting. That is, expect to get dirty, sometimes to the point of ruining your clothing. Depending on your dog – or the others at the park – you won’t come home as clean as you left. Speaking of which, neither will your dog. If you’re a stickler for cleanliness, you may want to bring shampoo, a towel, and possibly a brush with you. The parks usually have hoses for a quick dog wash. This is one of the reasons you and your dog will be dirty: there are shallow pools for your dog to wade in, and if your dog doesn’t, another will. And that dog will probably come over to you to either give you a nice, muddy, high-five, or a good, wet, shake. You shouldn’t have to bring water for your dog – there are plenty of bowls and water fountains – of course unless you have a finicky dog.
Lastly, I should warn that this really isn’t a family place. A dog park isn’t somewhere for you to bring your kids to run around – bring them to a playground for that. It causes confusion, and a running child could be mistaken for ‘prey’ by some dogs. And definitely don’t bring small children. I know, it should be common sense, but I’ve seen people bring babies, and the babies almost always get hurt by a too-curious dog. Also, children act differently when in this kind of environment – everything you’ve taught them goes right out the window when it comes to meeting dogs. They forget to let strange dogs sniff their hands first, and they forget that not all dogs want to be petted. Another obvious thing are the signs that say not to allow humans to climb the dog equipment – they do it anyways. It’s too difficult to watch your dog and your children, so just leave the kids at home, or go to the park when they’re at school.
Now that you’re better informed, here are some of the places where you can bring your pups: Bark Park at Amelia Earhart Park in Miami, Northeast Regional Dog Park at East Greynolds Park in Miami, Bark Park at Tropical Park in Miami, Barkham at Markham in Sunrise, Happy Tails Dog Park at Seminole Park in Plantation, Poinciana Dog Park in Hollywood, Oakland Bark Park in Oakland Park, Bark Park in Pembroke Pines, Gary B. Jones Park for People and Pups in Tamarac, Woodville Dog Park in North Lauderdale, and Bark Park at Snyder Park in Fort Lauderdale. Snyder Park also has a “dog swim” area – a freshwater lake that your pooch can paddle away in.
Last but not least, for hikers, walkers, and all-around lovers-of-nature, there are “dog-friendly” parks. This means that they allow dogs, as long as they’re on a leash and their rabies vaccine is current. They are as follows: Acadia Park, Kevin Broils Park, San Jacinto Park, Olympic Park, Deerwood Bonita Lakes Park, Biscayne Shores and Gardens Park, Kings Meadow Park, Rockdale Park, Snapper Creek Park, Tamiami Trail Park, West Kendale Lakes Park, Spanish Creek Park, and Military Trail Park, all in Miami. Well-behaved, leashed dogs are allowed to visit all Broward County Parks except Hollywood North Beach Park (beachside) and all of the Nature Centers and Natural Areas.
And if you’d love to do these things, but don’t have a pooch to play with, take advantage of Broward County’s special for this week: with every adoption, you get a “doggie bag” which comes with a leash and collar, a special discount at Pet Supermarket, and a dog food sample, amongst other items. Just go to the Animal Care and Regulation center in Fort Lauderdale or Pompano Beach.