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July 22, 2014
Dog Parks of Birmingham

Dog Dish A place to park it: Bark, borrow or steal it, but Calhoun County’s got to have a dog park

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Posted: Sunday, May 18, 2014 8:29 pm | Updated: 4:28 pm, Sun Jun 15, 2014.

Next month Remy’s Dog Park will open in Red Mountain Park. For those keeping score at home, that will put the number of off-leash dog parks in the greater Birmingham area at just under a buttload, more or less.

Since Green Springs Dog Park kicked things off back in 2009, the Ham can’t seem to get enough of these off-leash oases of puppy playtime. From swanky private clubs like Cahaba Beach Dog Park to simple, sprawling spaces like the Fultondale Bark Park, the lucky dogs of Birmingham don’t know how good they’ve got it.

There’s the AstroTurfed Beneful Dream Dog Park in Alabaster, the heavily trafficked Loch Haven Dog Park in Hoover, the quiet community dog park of Mt. Laurel. Oh, and Roverchase, the area’s first indoor dog park — you know, for when the neighborhood park is just too wet or cold or humid or, I don’t know, maybe the bright, sunny day is casting a glare on your iPhone.

Koops and Kollee themselves are frequent patrons of Irondale’s Grants Mill Station. Its steep hills manage to ratchet down Kollee’s Energizer Bunny impression a notch or two while its wooded perimeter promotes Koopa from beat cop to detective (i.e., he spends his time sniffing out clues in the woods instead of patrolling the entrance to howl at newcomers). Plus, it’s the closest one to us — just a snappy 57-mile hop down I-20, which admittedly feels less snappy on the return trip as the bunny and detective sprawled across the backseat steadily regain their energy the closer we get to home.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: What about those poor pet parents in Forest Park? Why, they’ve got to drive practically to Homewood — that’s nearly 11 minutes in heavy traffic! Turns out Avondale Park is in the process of fixing that as we speak. And don’t worry about the underprivileged furkids of Vestavia Hills either, because Sicard Hollow Community Park has got them covered next.

What’s that you say? Oh, that’s not what you were thinking? Yeah, me neither. And I didn’t even get to all the pet-friendly apartment complexes with resident dog parks listed among their amenities. I quit counting at four (once I got to Barkberry Place at Rollingwood, it stopped being funny ... I threw my keyboard).

OK, it’s possible I’ve taken a petulant turn here, but come on, B’ham! You’re telling me you can’t spare one, just one teensy, weensy little dog park? It doesn’t have to be the one with the AstroTurf and splash pad — Koopa prefers to do his sniffing on the real deal anyway, and Kollee’s easily startled by moving water (although interestingly it’s her big brother who refuses to use the drinking fountain while the water’s running).

We came close last summer, so very close. You may recall frequent reminders in this column to vote for Oxford in PetSafe’s $100,000 Bark for Your Park contest (“twice a day, every day” — ring a bell?). We made it to the second round — 15 cities out of an original pool of more than 1,000 ... so close, so very, very close.

But I don’t need to remind you how this ends. City leaders promised plans for a dog park would move forward with or without a win. With PetSafe’s 2014 Bark for Your Park contest now underway (just saying), word from the Oxford City Council is that’s still the plan. And according to Councilwoman Charlotte Hubbard, it goes like this:

1. First break ground on the new sports complex — “that’s really getting our main attention right now,” she said. “A lot of details still have to be worked out before we can move forward with upcoming projects.”

2. Pick a spot. Hubbard mentioned two possibilities, Oxford Lake or across Leon Smith Parkway from the aforementioned sports complex ... stupid sports.

3. Begin construction on a basic dog park  and apply for grants geared toward improving an existing park, of which Hubbard says she has several in mind.

OK, so it’s currently lacking a solid when, where, what or how, but at least it’s a plan, which is more than we had a year ago, so how about a little patience, people ...

And on a completely unrelated note, I’m just going to leave these two websites right here (petsafe.net, facebook.com/petsafebrand). No ulterior motive. Oh and hey, you know what might be fun? Let’s say it all together now, for old times sake — twice a day, every day.  

Unless, Birmingham, you think maybe you could spare just one of your park’s small-dog sides? I swear, you won’t even miss it ...

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