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