Thursday, October 18, 2012

Final Fred Anderson Park Community meeting scheduled!

Save the date!

The final Chicago Park District presentation of their plans for the Fred Anderson Park and DFA at 16th & Wabash has been scheduled for Tuesday November 20th.

This will be an important meeting.  It will be your chance to learn about and comment on the final plans for the new DFA, which will begin construction in 2013.

UPDATE:  The meeting is scheduled for 6pm, Tuesday, November 20th, in the Community Room at the 1st District Police Station, 1718 S. State. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

News about Fred Anderson Park

On September 4th, the Board of the South Loop Dog PAC met with Michael Lange, Project Manager of the Chicago Park District regarding the new park at 16th and Wabash (Fred Anderson Park), to discuss the planning for the new park and dog-friendly area. Board members Pamela Focia, Doug Freymann, and Gordon Stewart presented a number of ideas that we believe would make the new DFA a state-of-the-art recreational resource for people and their dogs in the South Loop. We outline some highlights here, but Mr. Lange asked that we not release details of the latest plan until the park district presents them at a public meeting.

o The Park District will hold a public meeting to discuss Fred Anderson Park development plans in early October. As soon as the date is released you will be notified.

o As in previous proposals, the current plan includes a small public stage/performance area and a plaza area, in addition to small-dog and large-dog play areas, surrounded by a strolling path.

o We emphasized that providing more than one entry point to the dog park would better serve the community.

o We emphasized that the park surfacing should be a top priority, as coated asphalt is not ‘dog-friendly’. The CPD is considering an artificial, state-of-the-art ‘canine-grass’ surface, which is designed to be and will be built upon a specialized drainage substructure, for easy maintenance.

o We asked that the dog park design be people-friendly as well as dog-friendly in order to promote (people) socialization and community building.

o We asked that the ‘interface’ between the dog areas and outside of them be carefully designed so that educational materials (e.g. ‘how to greet a dog’, ‘what dog breed is that?’, etc.) could be posted to bridge communities, and, particularly, to teach kids about dogs.

o Michael assured us that consideration of maintenance activities is an important element of the design. Service gates that we suggested be added will be large enough to allow equipment access.

o Construction cannot begin until after approvals and bidding are conducted in Spring 2013. The anticipated construction start would be summer 2013 and construction will take several months.

o The proposed DFA will be ‘large for Chicago’, but likely will not be larger than Wiggly Field or Grant Bark park.

We’ve been doing our part to advocate for the best possible dog-park in the South Loop at Fred Anderson Park. But the Board of the South Loop Dog PAC is a small group, and we ask that you, as a member of the South Loop community interested in, and hoping for, a great local dog park, take action, too. Please keep in touch with us, come to our meetings, help us reach out to the public and to the press, and let your Alderman know how you feel.

And watch for announcement of the public meeting in October!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Acadia Park!

If this doesn't get dog owners toasted, I don't know what will.

The latest info comes from the Sloopin Blog: 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What Dog Parks Mean to Me: Gordon and Jake

To show our support and need for this new dog park, we're asking South Loop residents and dog lovers in Chicago to share what dog parks mean to them.  You've met Kirsten and Ella, Elizabeth and Raul, now meet Gordon Stewart, board member of the South Loop Dog PAC, and his dog Jake.

My dog has been my loyal companion from the day I adopted him from the animal control center 8 years ago. It has been not only my responsibility but my privilege to provide him with everything he needs to be a healthy and healthful member of the community.

He is obviously attached to me, and though not a robot, he obediently follows my lead and commands. He doesn’t run up to strangers wagging his tail but, he could not be interpreted as threatening. Although he is not especially fond of the high energy of children, he will quite tolerantly endure their touch as they learn to not fear all large dogs.

Although frequently aloof, towards most people and animals, he will gently greet both with a wag and a sniff and then be on his way. Sometimes he meets “the right” playmate and may encourage that dog to engage in a chase or even a wrestle of sorts.

That said, I feel that Off Leash Areas are a place to build relationships. My dog and I may, or may not, choose to build a closer bond with others but, either way we will acknowledge and welcome you as a member of the community. Increased encounters cement our bond, either close or distant, and this familiarity breeds a feeling of comfort, safety and often times friendship in this congested atmosphere of anonymity.    


Dog Park Safety: How to keep your dog safe at the park.

Photo from Web MD

This is great advice from that we wanted to repost for all our readers.  Click the link above to learn more about these 8 tips for keeping your dog safe at the park!

How to keep your dog safe and happy at the dog park
2. Recognize appropriate play
3. Recognize inappropriate play 
4. Teach your dog to disengage from play and pay attention to commands
5. Know when to stay and when to leave
6. Recognize potential conflict zones
7. Understand what to do when corrections, squabbles and fights happen
8. Recognize that the dog park is not appropriate for all dogs

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dog Park Safety: What to do when your dog is attacked

Photo from

A recent email from a user of Grant Bark Park brought to our attention the need to talk about park safety!  We all want our local dog parks to be a safe, fun space for our dogs and ourselves, but what do you do when the worst happens and another dog attacks you or your dog?

The Short Answer:
Call the police.

According to the Chicago Park District website, all owners are legally responsible for their dogs and any injuries caused by their dogs.  If your dog is bitten or attacked, exchange information with the owner of the other dog.  Most owners in good faith will offer to pay for your vet bills.  If the other owner is unwilling to speak with you, call the police and report the incident.

The Long Answer - From the South Loop Dog PAC President:
"Unfortunately, there are no procedures in place for situations like this. There is a Chicago Park District 'rule' about 'dogs that have shown dangerous behavior', but there is no mechanism for enforcing it - the CPD is not going to police the parks, the SLDogPAC is in no position to police the park, and in the end it's going to be up to the parties involved to negotiate how to handle it amongst themselves. 

This comes up more frequently than we would like in Chicago dog parks - we hear it from our colleagues across the city - and we're trying to come up with a way to at least try to improve the information provided to dog park users and clueless owners.  This is a long term project we've been trying to get off the ground - this incident, and others, is giving the effort impetus."
Things to Look For - From 

Understand what to do when corrections, squabbles and fights happen
 Sudden, quick disagreements with lots of noise that end in a matter of seconds are normal and it is probably safe to allow the dogs to remain in the park if neither shows any inclination to continue the argument.
 Interrupt any situation that seems to be escalating.
- Use your voice in a calm, commanding way to stop the fight.  Screaming simply increases the
arousal of the dogs involved.
- Do NOT stick your hands into the middle of a dog fight to separate dogs. If physical intervention is
needed, try to grab the back legs of your dog and “wheel-barrow” it until it calms down. Fighting dogs will often strike at anything that moves near their face and human hands are far more delicate than most areas where one dog will bite another.
South Loop Dog Note: We strongly discourage the use of pepper spray for breaking up a dog fight as it could injure your own dog or other dogs around you.
- Do not allow additional dogs to jump into the fight. If you see or hear a squabble between other dogs, get your dog immediately and take it away from the area.
- Do not panic. It will not help the dogs. Remember that as a general rule, the louder the fight, the more bluff and bluster is involved and the less damage. Most dog fights between similar size dogs do not result in serious injury.
 Once a fight occurs, the adrenaline levels of the dogs involved, and many of those who witnessed the fight, will be raised for several hours. It is wise to take these dogs out of the park and exercise them elsewhere to avoid the potential of another fight.

If you have any advice or opinions, please feel free to leave a comment for discussion.

What Dog Parks Mean to Me: Elizabeth and Raul

To show our support and need for this new dog park, we're asking South Loop residents and dog lovers in Chicago to share what dog parks mean to them.  The second post in this series comes from Elizabeth Tyson, board member of the South Loop Dog PAC, and her Shih Tzu mix dog, Raul.

Raul was a surprise Valentine's gift to myself in 1999.  I was single, seeking escape from graduate school, on a rural road trip with my best friend, and her dog BoBo. We were escaping, temporarily, from our academic responsibilities. On this particular escapist adventure, We made a stop to see some dogs. There, I met Raul, a Shih Tzu mixed breed. He was 5 months old then and  lived the first months of his life in a cage. He was born and rescued from a puppy mill, where he suffered and survived a deep cut that left a permanent scar across his back. Yet, in spite of his injury and solitary confinement, he was playing joyfully and lovingly with a companion stuffed rabbit, bigger by 1/2 than his puppy size. This was my first of a multitude of beautiful memories of Raul's spirit. I wanted to meet and hold Raul. He held me back tightly, looked at me trustfully.  He communicated a need for care and love and I decided then and there to care and love him right back. So, Raul, his rabbit companion, my best friend, BoBo and I completed our road trip that day together.. 
Raul accompanied me through the next 12 years. Yet, despite the arguable fact of life's uncertainty, Raul was my constant, unconditional source of joy. His visits to our dog park mirrored his joyful, social character seeking other dogs companionship. And, it offered me connection to others in my community.

 Raul and his dog park love:
One great source of joy for Raul was a long walk to our nearest dog park.  Raul loved to socialize.  As we got closer to the Wicker Park off-leash dog friendly area, his little bouncy gait sped to a gallup. Upon entering the dog park, Raul made somewhat of a dramatic entrance. With all his little might and courageous determination he went directly to run with the big dogs. Raul showed enthusiastic abandon throwing himself into the big, 'cool dog' play pack each and every visit. And, each visit, inevitably, Raul got rolled, knocked over, body slammed. Often, Raul had occasion to bark admonishingly at rough and tumble bullies in defense of smaller 'friends'.  Then, inevitably, within a few short minutes, he was pushed out of the big dogs' play group.  Yet, each time, Raul did not show any sign of sad defeat or retreat to seek my comfort.  No. Raul moved to the park entrance and sweetly assumed his place as, what came to be known by other dog owners, as the  "greeter".  

'What a dog park means to me' is inseparable from my memory of what it meant to Raul. 
So, these are my thoughts about what a dog park means to me in memory of what it meant to Raul. In kind, I should say, I have met my dearest friends at dog friendly parks. These spaces build community, safety through dialogue, and people looking out for one another.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What Dog Parks Mean to Me - Kirsten & Ella

To show our support and need for this new dog park, we're asking South Loop residents and dog lovers in Chicago to share what dog parks mean to them.  The first post in this series comes from Kirsten Agnello-Dean, board member of the South Loop Dog PAC, and her rescued from Paws Chicago Dachshund Mix Dog, Ella.

Ella at Grant Bark Park

Kirsten & Ella
Graduating from obedience
class at the Anti-Cruelty Society
By a giant leap of fate and a roll of the dice, my husband and I have added a very, VERY active puppy into our lives.  Ella is 1 year and 2 months old and an absolute lover of dog parks.  She loves to run.  LOVES it.  She'll run in the dog park whether it's 18 degrees, 105 degrees, or even covered in snow.  Whatever breeds of dog are mixed into her, one of them is an outdoor, running breed.

Since we live in a one bedroom apartment, dog park visits are essential!  Ella starts to go stir crazy and no amount of ball tossing in the living room or even down the building hallway (don't tell my neighbors) will satisfy her.  We end up at the dog park at least three times a week.  Without a park to take Ella to, we'd all go crazy, and we may not be able to keep her happy and healthy at home.  Currently Ella likes to visit her two South Loop dog parks - Grant Bark Park and Coliseum Park - but even more so, Ella loves the West Loop Dog Park, Lakeshore East Dog Park, and Montrose Dog Beach.  We love taking her to parks with faux turf and water features so she doesn't hurt her paw pads, stays hydrated, and can play for hours.  But since she's little, the only park she can walk to is Coliseum Park.  It would be amazing to have a full size, close to home South Loop dog park.

From the different parks I've been to, it's clear that parks can be more than a place to exercise your dogs.  They can be a community where you find friends, human and dog alike, and people look out for each other.  It is my greatest hope that the 16th and Wabash Dog Park will turn out to be that place!  Please Chicago Park District, keep working on building Ella her dream park!

Do you love dog parks?  Want to write a "What Dog Parks Mean to Me" post?  Email your thoughts and a picture of your dog to

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Park Update - CPD Meeting from 8/6/12

Your South Loop Dog PAC board had a meeting scheduled with Michael Lange (our new Project Manager contact) of the Chicago Park District for yesterday, Monday August 6, 2012.  Unfortunately, Michael decided to cancel the 10:00am meeting at 10:05am when he arrived.

Pam, Elizabeth, Kirsten, and Doug were in attendance and while we were incredibly disappointed Michael cancelled on us at the last minute, in person, after we arrived.  At least we were able to get a few questions in while we stood in the CPD lobby.

What we know from Michael Lange/CPD:  The entire park budget has been increased to $4 million as was announced earlier, but the park is still in the design phase.  They have just been given approval to reengage the architect and are hoping to finish the design by early fall.  If this happens on time they would procure the construction company for spring 2013 construction with a build out period of 90-120 days, but realistically on the later end of that number.  The TIF funds for the park do not expire until the end of 2014 (which was verified by the Alderman's Parks Liaison Leslie Recht).

What about the dogs?  The whole park is 1 acre total and Michael said the entire park would be dog friendly, a dog friendly area/dfa, BUT he could not confirm how much of the park would be an off-leash area or give us the percentage the dog park would be of the total park.  He commented:

I won't give a percentage because it's a spaced that serves the community - whether you have dogs or kids or are by yourself.  
The only other park concern we had time to discuss was the rumors about Acadia having an outdoor dinning space.  Michael had this to say:

We are not designing for any specific vendor in mind.
To date they (Acadia) have no contract with us that I know of. 
Michael said that parks are not designed with specific vendors in mind, but that when the park was built or being built, Acadia could pursue a contract with the CPD for use of the space.  There is a plaza space that will be incorporated into the design, but as of now, it is designed for general use and not being designed for the use of Acadia.

So where are we?  Essentially in the same place.  We're still waiting for designs to be finalized and are hoping they will be finished and presented to the community in the next couple months.  The CPD is hoping to schedule a community public meeting for early October to sign off on the plans.  In the past year and a half since the revised plan for the park was presented in April 2011 (and was resoundingly rejected by the community) the Chicago Park District has been very tight lipped about the project.  There have been no specifics available to us about further development of the park.  This meeting, unfortunately, did nothing to clarify the CPD's intentions nor did it reveal how the park design will continue to evolve in their hands.

Want to help?  Leave a comment on this blog, like our facebook page: 16th and Wabash Dog Park and share your support for the new park.  Also, plan on attending the South Loop Dog PAC Annual Member Meeting which will be scheduled for September...we will be discussing the new park!  And as always, we're always looking for great community members and dog owners to join the South Loop Dog PAC.  More information on membership can be found here.

Thank you for your support!

~Kirsten Agnello-Dean
SL Dog PAC Board Member

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dog Park Etiquette and Safety Video

A great video from Better TV with helpful tips for taking your dog to the park...and keeping him safe while being a good puppy parent.  A must watch!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dog Beaches: What to Know Before You Go

Photo by Federico Stevanin 

Luckily, our dog beach is open year round in Chicago, but more pooches feel inclined to visit when the weather gets warmer.  Want to take your pup to the beach?  Here's what to know before you go.  Below are the official rules from the Mondog Montrose Beach.  Click on the links for more information.  And of course, don't forget to brush up on your Dog Park Etiquette with our post from last week.  These rules are worth a read for any pre-beach trip.  As the Mondog website points out, "what is considered acceptable behavior at home, is not necessarily at the Dog Beach.

Another thing to consider?  Make sure your dog has a good recall.  The park is fenced in, but some users have claimed their dogs can get out where the fence meets the water.  Be on the safe side and practice coming when called with your pup on a regular basis.

Have anything to add?  Please leave a comment!  Has your pooch been to the beach?  What did you both think?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dog Park Rules & Etiquette

When the weather gets warmer...more dogs come out to play!  So now is a good time to review the rules and etiquette for taking Fido to the park.  Most important of course is to make sure your dog is properly vaccinated and socialized.  Puppies under 4 months, dogs without all their shots, and aggressive or extremely timid dogs are best to avoid the dog park.

The best way to insure a good time for all, be respectful of your park (clean up after your dog) and always watch your dog.  Make sure your pooch isn't playing too rough or cowering in fear under the park bench.  Always be there to protect your dog.

That said, here are the official rules for Chicago's dog parks - click on the link for more information from the MonDog Website:

1.  Owners are legally responsible for their dogs and any injuries caused by their dogs.

2.  Owners must remain with and watch their dogs at all times.

3.  Dogs must be leashed prior to and upon leaving the DFA.
4.  Owners must immediately clean up after their dogs.

5.  Dogs with a known history of, or who exhibit, dangerous behavior are prohibited.

6.  Dogs must be healthy, fully immunized, dewormed, and licensed.

7.  No dog will be allowed in a DFA unless it has a current rabies vaccination.

8.  Dog owners are responsible for the monitoring and maintenance of the DFA.

9.  Owners or other responsible persons must have a DFA permit with them for each dog visiting the DFA.

10.  Each dog visiting a DFA must display a current Chicago Park District DFA tag.

11.  DFA permits expire on December 31 of the year that it is issued.

12.  Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult; younger children must be closely supervised.

13.  Only three dogs per person allowed.

14.  Puppies under four months old and female dogs in heat are prohibited.

15.  Failure to comply with the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control Regulation for Chicago Park District DFAs can result in a fine.
Onto Etiquette...our dog parks will only continue to thrive if we are compassionate and considerate of our dog park neighbors.

*Clean up after your dog
*Don't bring people food into the park
*Always ask before feeding another dog a treat
*Don't discipline another person's dog, but do remove your dog from an aggressive or inappropriate situation.
*Play with your dog and pay attention to him, but don't forget to let him socialize with the other dogs.
*If you see another dog and their parent about to leave, call your dog over so they can leave easily. 
*Always shut the gate behind you.
*Talk to people - chat about your puppies and give other dog parents a heads up if you've been there for a while and noticed anything unusual or a dog that could be potentially aggressive.
*Fill the water bowl, take the time to rinse out the bowl and fill it with fresh water if it's been sitting there for a while.

Did we forget anything?  What other tips can you think of for making our dog parks a better place?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Dog Park Success Stories

Photo by Maggie Smith -
Waiting for our new park to be finalized and built can be frustrating, but it's important to remember the success stories that came before.  Here's a particularly nice piece about Chicago success in creating dog parks from Good News for Pets.  It was written a while ago, before the Montrose Beach even, but it's a nice read to feel optimistic - just look how far the city has come in a few short years.

Establishing a Dog Park: A Chicago Success Story
By Steve Dale

Just four years, ago there wasn't a single safe place in this city of more than 750,000 dogs to legally play off a leash. Now, there are ten dog friendly areas with more on the way, including dog friendly beach spaces, which will sprout up along the shores of Lake Michigan next spring.
Chicago's recipe for creating dog friendly green places requires grass roots neighborhood support. Dog owners and non-dog owners work together creating solutions to problems where they live.

Mayor Richard M. Daley barks, "Most dog owners are responsible people. Like anything else, you have to give opportunities to those people who prove they are responsible. They deserve a place for their dogs to walk and swim. It's all part of getting along with one another in a big city."

Read the full story here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

What is a Dog PAC?

Getting dog parks built takes a lot of support!  Luckily for us, the South Loop Dog PAC (which stands for Dog Park Action Cooperative) has taken the new 16th & Wabash dog park under it's umbrella, which will make getting support for the new park much easier than if we had gone it alone.  But what is a dog pac?

A dog pac, or park action cooperative, is a membership based all volunteer, non-profit group of dog lovers that helps advocate for our four legged friends in the city.  They're headed by an 8 member board Here's the South Loop Dog PAC's mission
The South Loop Dog PAC advocates for and supports responsible dog-ownership in Chicago’s South Loop.  We provide and maintain safe off-leash areas for dogs and humans to socialize in area parks, and we work to encourage healthy and mutually beneficial dog-human relationships in the community.   
Today, the SLDogPAC is responsible for maintaining the South Loop DFAs, as well as planning and financially supporting any improvements or changes to the dog parks. In addition, the SLDogPAC continues to promote responsible dog ownership, providing socializing opportunities for our dogs and their people, as well as educational information. 

So what do they do?  In 2011, The South Loop Dog PAC:

  • Purchased 20 tons of gravel for Grant Bark Park and installed the 250 feet of gravel retaining mesh in the park.
  • Requested repairs at Coliseum Park Dog Run to get the drains leveled and fences repaired - which are underway now.
  • Organized clean up events at both parks
  • Worked as a liaison with the Chicago Park District for the creation of our new dog park to be created at 16th & Wabash Avenue.
  • Installed a bulletin board at Grant Bark Park
  • Continuously refilled the poo bag dispensers at both parks - 50 times - which is like 20,000 bags!
As you can see, the South Loop Dog PAC is instrumental in creating and maintaining dog parks in Chicago.  If you see their value as much as we do - AND want to help us get our dog park built, please consider becoming a member of the South Loop Dog PAC.  Membership is as little as $40 and comes with a free t-shirt!  Your dog will thank you.

You can also buy a t-shirt, join the mailing list, or follow them on facebook and twitter as well.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Successful Meet & Greet at DoGone Fun

Our Meet & Greet with the South Loop Dog PAC was a success!  Lots of dogs got in some quality romping and free treats while their human companions learned about the new dog park, became SL Dog PAC members, and munched on chips and guac!  Check out some photos we snapped at the event then hop over to our facebook page to see more photos (and don't forget to click "Like" if you haven't already).  

Special thanks to DoGone Fun! for donating the space and doggie treats.  We hope to see everyone at our next event!

10 Ways to Go Green with Your Pet for Earth Day

Earth day is this Sunday, so what better time to talk about going green with you pup.  The most recent issue of Healthy Pet from Chicago VCAs had a great page devoted to going green with your pet, dogs and cats included.  We only have one planet, so everyone (including Fifi and Fido) should help to keep it looking beautiful.  No matter how big or small your pets are, they impact the environment too.

Photo from
Here are 10 Ways to Go Green from Healthy Pet:
1. Adopt from a Shelter - Why buy a pet when you can adopt one of the millions of cats and dogs that enter shelters each year?
2.  Spay or Neuter Your Pet - By spaying or neutering you're preventing more homeless pets from being added to the population.
3.  Repurpose What You Own - Old blankets and pillows can become a new dog bed.  The lonely sock that lost its mate can become a catnip toy.
4.  Turn Poop Green - Most of our pet's poop ends up preserved in plastic bags in a landfill - use biodegradable bags and scoop poop often.
5.  Protect Plants & Wildlife - Keep your dog on a leash when you're outside and keep your cat indoors.  Dogs may chase and catch wild animals or damage delicate habitats through good-natured romping and relieving themselves.
6.  Shop Sustainable Goods - When shopping for toys and accessories look for products made from recycled materials or sustainable fibers like hemp or bamboo.  Take time to read labels.
7.  Use Natural Products - Clean up after your pet with products that are gentle on the planet and your pet's senses.  Read the labels!
8.  Make Your Own Treats - Natural and healthy treats for dogs include carrots, popcorn (hold the butter and salt), and select raw veggies.  Always consult your veterinarian first.
9.  Offset Their Paw Print - Purchase renewable energy credits to offset your pet's carbon emissions.
10.  Go Digital - Ask your vet about microchipping (mandatory in Chicago).  Also, ask to receive statements, bills, etc. from the vet via email instead of printing paper copies.

Two other "green" pet thoughts we might add? 

Make sure to shop local, your local pet shops like Krisers and Soggy Paws in the South Loop usually by items from local or close to local vendors and often focus on natural, healthy, and eco themed accessories and treats - think natural by-product free food from Fromm's based in Wisconsin.

Also, consider donating slightly used toys, blankets, towels, and more to your local shelters.  The Anti-Cruelty Society and Paws Chicago both happily accept donations of goods to keep shelter pets happy.  If your dog doesn't play with a toy anymore, why not recycle/reduce/reuse it by passing it on to a pet in need.

Happy Earth Month!

What are some ways you go green with your pet?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dog Friendly Meet & Greet This Sunday

Make sure you stop by the Dog Friendly Meet & Greet this Sunday at DoGone Fun in the South Loop!  We'll be on hand to answer any and all your questions about the new Fred Anderson Dog Park or help you join the South Loop Dog PAC (If you join on Sunday, you get a free t-shirt!)  We hope to see you, and your pooch, this Sunday!
April 16, 2012
11am - 3pm.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Dog Lover's Companion to Chicago

Looking for a book to help you navigate Chicago with your pup?  Check out The Dog Lover's Companion to Chicago.  It's a great little book that breaks down the city by section and shares dog friendly places and tips.  The latest edition is a few years old, so you'll have to double check the places and events listed.  Fingers crossed they'll come out with an updated version soon!

Check out what they said about the South Loop:

"Residents of the South Loop, some of the most active dog owners in the city, believe there are more dogs in their little neck of the urban woods than in any other neighborhood in the city.  The city clerk's office doesn't track pet ownership by neighborhood, so there's no way to know for sure, but there;s certainly no shortage of friendly furry faces.  South Loop Dog PAC, a neighborhood group of dog owners that created a dog-friendly oasis in the urban jungle, noticed all the canine well as that dog owners learn each other's dog's names before they bother to learn the human's names."

They give Grant Bark Park 4 paws up!  Let's hope our new dog park is open when the next edition of this book comes out.  What are your favorite South Loop dog places?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Dog People Astrology - Find your inner dog breed

Photo Credit: Idea Go

We recently read Planet Dog: A Doglopedia and loved it.  It's a great collection of fun dog facts, stories, and info.  Ever wondered about the dogs that were first on the scene on 9/11?  Curious about sled racing, canine acting dogs like Lassie, or Dave Berry's thoughts on dog behavior?  Check this book out.  A great section we liked reading was "astrology for dog people."  Here's what Stacey Wolf, a well public author of psychic books, a stand up comedian, and known for her spot on readings of celebrity, sport, and political predictions had to say about what dog breed's characteristic you have based on your astrological sign.

Find your inner dog breed

Aries: Jack Russel Terrier.  You're friendly, very feisty, and completely untrainable.  You have boundless energy to run around and mess things up!  You also like to be the center of attention.

Taurus: Saint Bernard.  You are a big, mushy, loveable, slobbery kind soul.  You love to work and help people with a lick and a smile.  Let's not forget your stubborn streak, once you get your paws into something, you're not likely to go soon.

Gemini: Yorkie.  You are really cute, bouncy, very yappy, and best of all, you have really well groomed hair - with accessories to match.

Cancer: Chihuahua.  Everyone things you're all cute and cuddly, until they get into your space and you want to bite their head off.  "Ruff, don't touch my bone."

Leo: Great Dane.  The king of all dogs,  You do everything larger than life, from the way you walk to the way you play. You command attention and have a big, loud bark!

Virgo: Westie.  The dog in you is stubborn and pleasing.  You were once the cutest and best groomed pooches around, and you love to work too.  Once you get into a good bone, you can dissect the thing for hours with energy and determination.

Libra: Greyhound.  Your inner dog is both graceful and classic.  If you had it your way, you wouldn't use your speed for racing - you'd run from one party to another.  You don't like to work - just to play.

Scorpio: German Shepherd.  As the master of the universe you are the most intense breed.  You inspire both awe and fear.  YOu are cautious around strangers but love your best friends.  You strut with an air of mystery.

Sagittarius:  Golden Retriever.  One of the friendliest breeds, you love everyone you come into contact with equally.  You are always up for new adventures, but love to come home for a good nap at the end of the day.

Capricorn: Pug.  You are cute and cuddly but balance that with a feisty independent streak.  You are mostly good natured, but every once in a while you give a loud snort if something isn't going your way.

Aquarius:  Miniature Schnauzer.  You've definitely got a mind of your own, but no one can really understand what's going on in there!  You are cautious with strangers and like to bark a lot - sometimes about nothing.  Opinionated and adventurous, you are always up for a good sniff.

Pisces:  Toy Poodle.  You just want to cuddle up to someone you love all dat long, do nothing, get carried everywhere, and never let your feet touch the ground.  Being treated like a princess or prince isn't bad either.

What was your dog breed according to the stars?  Do you agree?  Does it describe you?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Unexpected Benefits of Dog Parks

Photo from South Loop Dog PAC

We all know about the benefits for dogs in dog parks (like socialization, excursive, stimulation, etc) but what about some of those less obvious reasons?  Dog parks offer a host of benefits...even to those that don't have a canine companion or choose not to use the park at all.  Here are our top three favorite unexpected benefits to building a dog park.

1.  Green Space - Trees give us necessary oxygen and plants have been proven over and over again to make people happy, literally.  Wouldn't you rather a vacant lot be turned into a place for greenery than remain vacant, weed filled, and a collection space for debris and trash?

2.  Less Poop - As you know, abandoned dog poo is a problem (if you don't already know - just check out South Poop to learn all about the South Loop poop epidemic), but give all those doggies a place to play and poop, and their owners some free bags, and they'll be less poop on the sidewalks.  Plus, dog owners are more likely to pick up their dogs poop (or even someone else's) inside a dog park than a random lot or sidewalk.

3.  Safer Parks for Kids - A common parent complaint is about the danger off leash dogs pose to children playing in parks.  They're worried Fido will knock over their little tot as he frolics in the grass.  With a designated place for dogs to play, kids can roam without fear of being disturbed by dogs, and vice versa.  Running dogs probably don't like kids getting in their way either.   And building more and more dog parks mean that people will be able to use them with ease and not have to resort to letting their dogs off leash in people parks.

Can you think of any other unexpected benefits of dog parks?

Monday, March 19, 2012

How to Create a Dog Park

Here's another great page from Planet Dog on how to get a dog park built in your community.  We're well on our way, but this list of 13 steps is a good reminder of just how much work it actually takes to get a dog park built.

The dog lovers at the Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA in San Mateo, California, have developed the following strategies for successfully getting a dog park created:

1.  Start with a core group of committed dog park activists
Talk with a half-dozen other dog lovers who are concerned about the lack of off-leash spaces.  These may be people you already know - or you can put a notice in the local paper to find more dog-friendly folks.
2.  Hold a public meeting
Once the core group is in agreement, a larger community meeting will help you get the word our to supporters and solicit input and suggestions.  Encourage people to write letters in support of a dog park to public officials and the media and to make presentations to community groups whose backing would be valuable.
3.  Educate your fellow dog owners on the need to be responsible
People who neglect to pick up after their dog or who allow and aggressive or unsocialized animal to run loose can do a lot of damage to your cause and your ultimate chances of success.   Your mission should be twofold: establishing a off leash dog exercise area and promoting responsible canine care.
4.  Write a clear mission statement
Write a mission statement that details the need and purpose of the park, stressing the benefits to dog owners, their canine companions, and the greater community.  A suggested statement: To establish a fenced-in, off-leash dog park where well-behaved canine citizens can exercise in a clean, safe environment without endangering or annoying people, property, or wildlife.  To develop a beautiful, well maintained space open to all dog lovers and friends who are willing to uphold the park's rules and restrictions.  To view this park as a community project designed to satisfy the needs of dog owners and non-dog owners alike.
5.  Demonstrate Need
Gather statistics on the dogs and their people n your community.  How many dogs would use a dog park?  What are the demographics of the people in our city?  Who currently uses city parks - and who doesn't?  Downplay the "dog factor" and emphasize people issues.  Remember, dogs don't play taxes or vote.
6.  Demonstrate Support
Activists found that a simply worded request circulated on a petition, helped convince city officials that there was indeed both a need and widespread public support for a responsibly run dog park.  Place petition gatherers at supermarkets, pet supply stores, and other high-traffic areas.  Enlist the support of local veterinarians, groomers, dog walkers and others who have a real Internet in having a community filled with healthy, well-socialized dogs.  Involve them in gathering petitions, writing letters to the editor of local papers, and generally spreading the word.
7.   Create a Budget
Determine how much it will cost to construct and maintain the park - include costs for grass, fences, garbage removal, lawn maintenance, drinking water, field drainage, lighting, benches, and a pooper scooper area.  Some cities are willing and able to finance a dog park; others would rather share the cost with a group committed to maintaining the park and ensuring the park's rules.
8.  Solicit the input and seek the approval of significant organizations in your community.
Talk with the proposed park's neighbors before talking to city hall.  As soon as someone puts up a serious red flag, pay attention to it; don't ignore it or fight it, and try to come up with a solution.  If it really is impossible to resolve at least you'll know what you're up against.   
9.   Be prepared to address a range of concerns...
...including the risk of dog fights, dog bites, increased noise level, parking and traffic problems, and liability and maintenance issues,  Explain why some of these are non-issues and have a plan to address the ones - such as traffic and noise - that are legitimate
10.  Ask your local SPCA for help and a letter of support.
11.  Get to know local officials
Your city council members and the director of your Department of Parks and Recreations.  Attend meetings, join them at fundraisers.  Find our what they need from your to move the dog park forward.
12.  Request a hearing with the city government
When you're ready, request a hearing to discuss your proposal.  Have two or three carefully selected, knowledgeable, and articulate members of your group present your plan, clearly expressing its many benefits to the community and calmly addressing any concerns.
13.  Be patient
Dealing with city government is rarely a quick deal.  Though you may find yourself running with Fido in the dog park of your dreams within a year, it could just as easily take several years to create.

As always, we'll keep you updated on the latest for the Fred Anderson Dog Park!

Monday, March 12, 2012

10 Reasons Dog Haters Should Support Dog Parks

Here's a great excerpt from the book Planet Dog by Sandra and Harry Choron.  It's a greenly colored book full of dog trivia and interesting stories and helpful tips.  If you know someone who is against dog parks, email them this post!

10 Reasons Dog Haters Should Support Dog Parks

Gary Merrick of Southay Dog Parks writes "One of the things that has surprised me since getting involved in promoting dog parks is the fact that some dog haters and off-leash advocates are both arguing the same points from two different perspectives.  The solution is the same for both parties."  Here are some reasons that dog haters should not oppose off-leash dog parks:

1.  Having well-exercised and mentally stimulated dogs means less barking, less destruction, and generally fewer dog-related problems for your neighborhood.  Wouldn't it be nice if your next-door neighbor could do something to quiet Spot's barking.

2.  Since dogs would have their own park, parents of young children wouldn't have to worry about dogs in the playground.

3.  No more dog poop in the middle of the soccer field.

4.  We could finally move one step closer to reducing the number of serious dog attacks by noting that statistics don't change after implementing a dog park.  The police and Animal Control can then concentrate their efforts on the aggressive, unsocialized dogs that actually cause these problems.

5.  An uninvited canine participant would no longer interrupt your outdoor activities.

6.  Dogs behind a fence could no longer bite you, attack you, or run through your yard.

7.  Dog-related noise would be limited to park hours (generally seven a.m. until sunset).

8.  Depending on the location and circumstance, the presence of dogs may deter crime or loitering.  Dogs are all bad aren't they?

9.  Dog haters won't have to spend nearly as much time calling animal control.

10.  Everyone can enjoy a more harmonious existence.

What do you think?  How would you help dog haters see the benefits to them of a dog park?

Monday, March 5, 2012

What does "Curb Your Dog" mean?

Chicago dog owners probably see some sort of "Curb Your Dog" sign almost everyday.  But what does it mean?  Our friends at the South Poop blog have the answer:

The phrase ‘Curb Your Dog’ originated in the 1930′s in New York City.  Citing (from the Chicago Daily Tribune, 4 December 1938, “Mostly About Dogs” by Bob Becker, pg. F10: “Curb Your Dog” Good Advice:
“In New York, truly a doggy city, an ordinance has been passed to make for a cleaner city and at the same time compel the indifferent dog owner to consider public welfare. The ordinance demands that dogs be curbed. There are signs everywhere with the request, “Curb your dog.” It means that owners cannot allow their pets to soil buildings, nor can a dog make a nuisance of himself on the grass of the parkway or on the sidewalk. As a result there are practically no complaints about the dogs soiling sidewalks or grassy places which the public uses.”
That is, ‘Please Curb your Dog’ meant ‘Don’t let your dog do its business on the sidewalk. Let your dog do it in the road’.
Urban Dictionary offers this definition:

How does this translate to you?  It basically means, let your dog do his business in the "gutters" of the street and not in the middle of the sidewalk and clean up after your pet.  Moral of the story?  Don't be the disrespectful dog neighbor that let's your dog run wild and doesn't clean up after them.
You've also probably noticed that the Chicago Park District Doggie has gotten a face lift.  He's lost his heavy chain leash in favor of a chic-er look.  See the before (left) and current (right) signs posted around dog parks, parks, and public spaces.  
For a more in depth analysis on what exactly "curb your dog" means, make sure to check out South Poop.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Caring for Dry Paw Pads

Photo Credit
A day at the dog park can be hours of fun for your furry friend, but it can be hard on their feet.  Since most of Chicago's dog parks are paved, a common problem our dogs face from all that hard running on cement and gravel can be dry, cracked paw pads.  Just like our feet get try, dog's pads dry out as well.  Paw pads provide traction, absorb shock and help protect little feet from injuries and abrasions.  But sometimes they get a little too dry and rough.  So what can we do for them?  We did a little research and came up with these simple solutions:

    mushers secret paw wax 150x150 Dog Dry Skin   Why Your Dog Has Cracked And Dry Paw Pads
  • If your dog has overly dry or fissured paw pads, consider using a dog balm to help protect and condition them.  Try Growl and Meow Bowser Balm available at Soggy Paws and is fragrance free and all natural.
  • If your dog will be outside for quite a while or doing a lot of running, try a paw wax on the pads and between the toes.  It can help protect against sand burn, hot pavement, and salt burn during the winter months.  My Dog Dry recommends Musher's Secret Paw Wax, which contains vitamin E to help moisturize, is all natural, and has great user reviews on
  • If your dog's paws seem tender, have your dog wear booties outside until the paws get better.  If they are especially prone to getting sore paws or get little snow balls stuck to their paws in the winter, consider getting booties for walks during the winter months.  You can even try infant socks.
  • Wash your dogs paws regularly to remove sidewalk dust or winter salt, especially after trips to the park or romps in the snow.
Please make sure to see your vet if your dog seems to be in pain, bleeding, avoiding using a one paw, limping, or  constantly licking or biting their paws.  

Have you used any of these remedies?  How do you keep your dog's paw pads healthy?  Share your tips and tricks with us!

My Dog Dry Skin
Doctor Dog
Happy Tails Spa
Big Dog Boutique

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Chicago Dog Show - IKC 2012 This Weekend

Photo Credit
Are you attending the International Kennel Club of Chicago Benched Dog Show this year?  Dog shows are a great time to celebrate all the pooches in your life whether pure breed or mixed breed.   This year's Chicago Dog Show is this weekend, February 24, 25, and 26, 2012 at the McCormick Place and is an open to the public show and competition for canine owners and enthusiasts.  There are benched shows and shopping galore.

Never been to a dog show?  Here are our top seven tips for getting the most out of your show experience:

1.  Dog Shows are basically a process of elimination culminating with the Best in Show.  Pick your favorite dog and route for them for Best in Show.
2.  Leave the pooches at home, the Chicago IKC Show is for people only (but you can buy your dog some great souvenirs to take home).
3.  Do not pet dogs without permission.
4.  Wear comfortable shoes and clothing.  You'll be doing a lot of walking and the McCormick Place can get toasty with lots of people, so leave the bulky winter coat at home or use the coat check.
5.   If the grooming area is open to spectators, don't be afraid to talk with professional groomers for tips on keeping your dog looking great.
6.  Likewise, talk with breeders and exhibitors if you're considering adding a purebred puppy into your life.  They are usually experts in specific breeds and can have a wealth of knowledge.
7.  How to dress?  You see everything from jeans to tuxedos.  If you're just visiting and watching the show or shopping, dress comfortably.  

Tickets for the Chicago Dog Show are available at the door for $15 per adult, $12 for Children on Friday, and $18 for adults on Saturday and Sunday.  The IKC website has a $2 off printable coupon as well.

Want some more information?  Here are some great sites to check out: - Great tips and glossaries of terminology - Tips geared for Westminster, but most are applicable everywhere.

Are you planning on attending?  Share your photos with us on our facebook page!