Old Dogs & New Tricks

If you've ever adopted an older dog, you know that the old saw about old dogs and new tricks isn't literally true. Twice now, I've adopted full-grown dogs and taught them new tricks.

Bella the Boxer, our current companion, has learned the command, "Mind your manners," sometimes simply shortened to "Manners!" It took a little more time and experimentation than with a puppy (she's the least food-motivated dog I've ever known, so it took some time to understand that the best way to reinforce what she's learning is to get down on her level and give her some love and attention when she gets it right), but these days when we go for a walk, she knows how to "mind her manners" around other dogs and people. She doesn't lunge or bark, even when the other dog is losing it. She stays right by my side, on a taut lead, staring down the enemy with a look that promises death to all who approach. (That habit might be impossible to break.)

At any rate, the real truth of old dogs and new tricks is metaphorical. It's about us. We get set in our ways. We develop habits over time, and the older we get, the more monumental the challenge of breaking those habits, or changing them to new ones. Don't believe me? Have you flossed lately?

Likewise, when it comes to our daily work habits and the way we run our businesses or organizations, it can be difficult to break away from well-established and well-known practices to try something new. In some ways, this is good. You don't want to try something new before the kinks are worked out, and so it can be good to follow best practices and wait for someone else to break the mold successfully before following suit.

That said, you do want to be exposed to new ideas and different possibilities. That's why, in this issue, we've covered old and new ground.

Got an existing dog park or building a new one? Find out what you need to know about the best practices that have sprung from the exponential growth of this type of amenity, and learn about some ways to do things differently and make an impact on page 12.

Tennis courts sitting idle? Take advantage of the latest program taking the nation by storm and convert some courts for pickleball. Find out how to get started on page 18.

Sports fields showing wear and tear? Try out the well-known methods, and explore beyond them to maximize your field's potential beginning on page 22.

Want to boost attendance for your fitness programs? Tried-and-true programs are a necessity, but you also should take into account all the new trends and ideas. Read all about that on page 26.

Best practices are best practices for a reason. And you want to be sure you're following them. But it can also pay off to break away from the pack and try something different. The rewards are waiting!


Emily Tipping
Editorial Director,
Recreation Management

[email protected]