How do you judge a dog park? I judge it by the people.
I haven’t taken my dog Summer to the dog park for a while, since she was behind on her shots, but we started going again recently, and she is happy about it.
We go to the dog park in James D. Kriegh Park in Oro Valley, a suburb just northwest of Tucson, Arizona. The dog park is at the back of the park, tucked away near the north campus drop-off and the north end of the park. The main entrance to the park is on Calle Concordia, but you can also get to the dog park by turning off Oracle Road onto Linda Vista and taking the first left, which takes you up to the parking lot.
The dog park itself is behind chain-link fencing, with a double gate. It has two ramadas for shade as well as a number of old trees which also provide shade (a rarity in southern Arizona) and a number of picnic tables. There is a paved path that winds the length of the park, installed several years ago since dog owners in wheelchairs had a hard time dealing with the sandy ground. There is water for the dogs and lots of room to run. Restrooms for the people are nearby, and can easily be seen by dogs waiting for their owners to return. Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult.
I took Summer there twice recently. The first time, a Saturday afternoon, there were around a dozen dogs, all pretty near each other in size. (Summer is 55 pounds, and fit right in.) I have seen dogs there before ranging from small terriers to Newfoundland in size, and most have played well together. The dogs ran around chasing each other. Some played mostly with their owners, retrieving balls and other toys, but this is a park where the dogs play mostly with each other.
Summer was shy this time, and though she greeted others and joined in some running and sniffing, stayed mostly by herself, wandering and sniffing everywhere. I chatted with a few other owners and followed her with a doggie bag. (The park supplies these, and people also bring used grocery bags.)
When I told a few people that I was writing a review of the park, they talked about this being a friendly park where dogs are allowed to be dogs, and need supervision mainly to avoid serious aggression. Play fighting is allowed when the people agree that their dogs are okay with it. One woman told me that she likes it that dogs get to play in this park, and that the people are friendly.
I also took Summer there on Friday morning. There were fewer dogs, perhaps 4 or 5 at a time. Summer immediately found another dog to play with. The owner and I chatted about breeds that may have contributed to our dogs, who have similar coloring but very different builds. There was a short time when some people left and before others came. Summer found other dogs to play with.
Again I mentioned that I was writing a review of the park. One man said he liked this park because a number of local people come every day so that people and their dogs become friends. We also discussed a few times when dogs became aggressive, and a couple of owners who refused to remove their dogs when this happened. On the other hand, on Saturday I saw a woman come to walk her dog around the main park. She used to come every day until her dog once became aggressive, and therefore she would not trust her with the other dogs off-leash.
Such incidents don’t happen often, and when they do, most owners are responsible.
There have been small dog parks that have opened in the area from time to time, some of the closer to me. I live 9 miles from Kriegh park, but it is worth the drive a few times a week to go to such a friendly park. Summer and I look forward to continuing our trips there.