Why I visited dog parks in Dallas, Texas?
In 2014, I was awarded the APDT & Black Dog Scholarship which included a trip to Dallas, Texas. It was here, I found dog parks built under and over freeways, part of urban renewal projects and revitalisation of traditional main streets.
This trip offered me so much more than being able to attend an international conference and visit dog parks in Dallas, and San Antonio (Texas) and San Francisco (California) it gave me the opportunity to observe a very different culture of people and their dogs in public spaces and places.
Flying into Dallas, my first impressions were that it was flat, dominated by freeways, pick-up trucks and streets devoid of people. After a couple of days there, my impressions changed. There were some real gems in the concrete jungle.
“Well Dallas is a jewel, oh yeah, Dallas is a beautiful sight.
And Dallas is a jungle but Dallas gives a beautiful light.” (Jimmie Dale Gilmore – Lyrics)
Dogs and urban life
In Australia we are just getting used to dogs in outdoor cafes on Main Street, but in the US dogs are included in the fabric of urban living: in public open spaces, bars, hotels and even on planes (i.e. small dogs). Back home in Australia, my previous research was on dog parks and visiting the US gave me a better appreciation of the wide diversity of settings for dog parks including under freeways (i.e. Bark Park, Deep Ellum, Dallas) small urban dog parks with water play (e.g. Kylde Warren Park, Dallas) private dog parks (e.g. Mutts Cantina) as part of bars and cafes and opportunistic parks in areas of urban renewal.
Derelict spaces turn into usable spaces
My favourite space was a dog park under a freeway in Dallas. In a space that is generally derelict but had been turned into a usable public space. Bark Park is near Deep Ellum, an older neighbourhood which is undergoing a transformation and becoming a funky, happening suburb of Dallas. In this park the freeway pylons serve as canvas for artwork featuring some local canine friends.
That was the diamond in the jungle
The APDT and Black Dog Scholarship allowed me to broaden my knowledge and horizons in ways that I never anticipated. Thank you APDT and Black Dog.
Dallas was a beautiful sight …
Photo credit: Fiona De Rosa – Linus in Blue, Deep Ellum car park, Dallas, Texas.