For centuries now dogs have been described as man’s best friend. These loyal companions know how to make us chuckle no matter the day and are a constant reminder for us to take life less seriously and stop to smell the roses. As these pups become family it is our responsibility to care for them, and what better way to do it than by taking them to one of the dog parks found here in Fort Wayne. According to Jason Smith, Manager of Athletics & Special Events at Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation, there are many reasons why he encourages people to take their dogs to designated dog parks, “There are a number of benefits in taking your dog to the dog park especially if you don’t have a fenced in yard or the ability to walk your dog on a regular basis. It’s a great way for them to get exercise and socialize¨.
On Winchester Road, just off Bluffton Road, you will find a 60,000 square foot fenced play space just for dogs. One of just two city managed dog parks, at Pawster Park Playground, you can let your dog roam happily off-leash allowing them to stretch their legs and meet new four-legged friends. Pawster Park was primarily created due to a group of local citizens who saw the importance and positive impact a dog park could have for the community. An agreement was made that Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation would provide the land, future maintenance, and operation of the location if the citizens could raise money for the installation. Thanks to this partnership and the dedication of local residents, Pawster Park Playground came into being.
Years later, in 2015, Camp Canine was constructed on the east side of Johnny Appleseed Park. This now allows people to have access to a dog park on the south and north side of Fort Wayne. Both locations share similar features such as an open-air shelter, a small patio, and drinking fountains for both two-legged and four-legged friends. The parks are also divided into two areas with a fence running down the middle of both locations. This was intended for routine maintenance with the idea that one side would remain closed until the other side needed maintenance. However, since the dog parks are in such high demand, both sides remain open until one is in need of repair.
So how does one have access to Pawster Park and Camp Canine? For the safety of all, Parks and Recreation requires you to show proof that your dog is up-to-date and has been vaccinated by a veterinarian for parvo, rabies, and distemper. There is an annual $40.00 fee per dog that drops down to $20.00 for a half year pass starting July 1st. This payment goes directly to the operation and maintenance of the dog parks. The easiest way to obtain your Pooch Pass is to stop by the Parks and Recreation Department located at 705 E State Blvd. You may also fill out an electronic form online at www.fortwayneparks.org and wait for a call from parks staff in order to pay over the phone with a credit card.
Animal Care and Control also hopes that these designated play areas will enable dogs to be happier, leading to fewer dogs returning to them. As Smith explains, ¨To put it simply, the dog parks are a perfect place to wear your dogs out – a well exercised dog is a well-behaved dog.¨ Head to the dog park this year and let your pooch roam freely under the sun. Your pal will thank you for it!