When I moved to Louisville in December, I was so excited to be moving to a city that had so many great dog parks. Buffalo, NY had one that I was aware of and it is in a neighborhood that you wouldn't want to frequent. My dogs bring a lot of joy to my life and it is important to me for them to socialize and exercise.
The Louisville Dog Run Association is an all-volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to operating the four official off-leash dog parks in Louisville. Notice the use of the word "official." These dog parks are: Champions Dog Run in Champions Park, Cochran Hill Dog Run in Cherokee Park, Sawyer Dog Park in E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park, and Vettiner Dog Run in Charlie Vettiner Park. Also, the association is working on getting a dog park up and running in Old Louisville in Toonerville Trolley Park.
The cost of the 2010 Dog Park Permit is $30 for the first dog, $20 for the second, and $10 for the third. If you have more dogs than that you are probably a crazy person, but just in case it is $5 for every dog after the third. Along with the donation, your dog must be licensed with Louisville Metro and must be up to date with all vaccinations. There are a laundry list of rules associated with the dog park and violating the rules can result in loss of park privileges. One of my favorite dog park rules is the size limit. One section is for all dogs and another is just for dogs under 30lbs. Smaller dogs are allowed on the "other side" if they like to play rough, but larger dogs are not allowed in the small dog area ... for the safety of the little ones. As the owner of two dogs under 30 lbs., and at the risk of sounding size-ist, I like being able to let my peanuts go without worrying about a 75-pound dog attacking them ... it's a more relaxing experience for all. People take the rules very seriously. I was actually told a story about a fist fight breaking out between two owners last year over one dog treating another dog poorly and the owner not apologizing properly. Now that's doggie momma drama. I bet it didn't happen on the little-dog side ... just sayin'.
Not long after frequenting the Cochran Hill Dog Run, I began hearing about "Dog Hill." Which is a literal hill in Cherokee Park where the "Park People" turn a blind eye to the fact that everyone takes their dogs off their leash and allows them to run and play together. There is a rule in the park that all dogs must be on a leash, but there are people everywhere not obeying (I'm just envious because my 9-month old Boston Terrier would find a new family if I let her off the leash). Also, there is an off-leash, unofficial dog park on Morton Avenue in the Original Highlands.
After moving to the Original Highlands last week, we started taking our dogs to this park on Morton Ave (visit their facebook page). It's a quick and easy three-block walk from our new house. As we began chatting with our new neighbors, we quickly learned that the "official" dog parks are poo-pooed by the locals. Apparently, the idea of separating dogs by size and paying to go to a park is just absurd. They purposely boycott those dog parks and only use the Morton Ave. and Dog Hill areas. People take it very seriously and make sure to tell you that only elitist snobs pay to go to the official parks. I can see where they're coming from, but my internal response is, "Really people, get a life. It's only $30 a year. If that's all it takes to be an elitist in this city then sign me up."
All in all, Louisville is an extremely dog-friendly city. However, people take it all too seriously. If there is this much drama about what dog park you go to, I can only imagine what putting a kid in kindergarten would be like.
Photo courtesy of the Louisville Dog Run Association
Maggie moved to Louisville from Buffalo, NY in Dec. 2009. She has also lived in London, Chicago, and Louisiana. Find out more about her business Weekend Wedding Warrior, LLC and her private counseling practice.