Feature Article - January 2011
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Dog Parks 2.0

Taking America's Dog Parks to the Next Level

By Daniel P. Smith

Heritage Park
Henderson, Nev.

In building the five-acre Bark Park at Heritage Park, Henderson officials met with veterinarians and dog trainers to explore the amenities most needed in a dog park complex. Those focus groups joined with public input and extensive national research to create the Bark Park at Heritage Park, one of the Nevada town's most celebrated public spaces.

"We began our department master plan two years ago and the two things we kept hearing over and over from our residents was the need for a dog park and additional forms of outdoor recreation," said Kim Becker, marketing and communications supervisor for the City of Henderson Parks and Recreation Department. "There were plenty of residents in our community who were pet owners eager to get out of the home and enjoy leisure time with their pets."

The Bark Park features three separate dog runs (small, large and mix) for similarly sized dogs to frolic, an agility course for dogs to run on and around, walking paths throughout the park, dog and human drinking stations, shade shelters and dog-bone shaped benches.

"We see so many concerned about mixing their small dogs with larger dogs and the three separate dog runs is a popular, appreciated solution," Becker said.

With little more than a Facebook announcement carrying word of the park's unofficial opening last August, hundreds poured into the park for a first look.

Above and Beyond: Barkules, a six-foot tall, 18-foot long public art display welcomes visitors to the park. Since kids can climb Barkules, parents can easily keep one eye on their child and another on their dog in this multifunctional park setting.

"We pulled in the community involvement with a naming contest for Barkules and that generated some real excitement," Becker said.

Coming Soon: The Bark Park looks to add canine obedience classes as well as agility courses in 2011, thereby tying recreational programming into the new park district space. The park is also adding doghouse-shaped human restrooms, which are expected to be complete by summer 2011.