Barks and Recreation

Barks and Recreation

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Your dog loves you. He is, as they say, your best friend. But every now and then, he needs to spend a little time with other dogs. When that happens, it’s dog park time.That’s where Fido gets to run around without that darn leash thing holding him back, and you get to sit back and relax (so long as you, you know, pick up after your four-legged friend).

Not all dog parks are created equal. Here are some of the nation’s best

Tral is a popular Bailey Tral is a popular(Courtesy Shaggy Pines Dog Park)

Bailey Trail is a popular Shaggy Pines Dog Park spot where dogs can meander. The park, a short distance from Grand Rapids, offers a range of options for all canine creatures great and small.

Shaggy Pines Dog Park
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Cruise just three miles away from car-centric 28th Street in Grand Rapids, and you’ll find another world, this one populated by tall pines and wagging tails. The 20-acre Shaggy Pines Dog Park offers everything a dog and his human could want.

The rough-and-tumble dog will appreciate Doggy Mountain, where he can climb and dig all day–followed by a cooling dip in the swimming pond. Owners who don’t love that wet-dog smell can avail themselves of the self-serve dog wash tubs and drying areas. Don’t want to deal with muddy paws? Steer your pup into one of two ‘dry’ dog areas. The small dog (weighing under 30 pounds) has his own dominion as well.

People can get some exercise, too, on the mile-long trail (lighted and plowed for evening and winter use). Or just recline on a lounge chair on Sunset Deck, overlooking the pond.

It’s a dog-eat-dog political world at Fort Woof, where every two years dogs complete to be mayor of the park. As the annualBarktoberfest festival approaches, with its celebrated Howl-o-ween dog costume contest and Bark for Life walk to fight cancer, dogs and their owners set about raising cash.

That’s right, this is one election you  the dog that raises the most money (which goes to maintaining the park), gets to be mayor. Mayor Sasha was sworn in in 2010, so your dog can get ready to challenge in 2012.

Any dog would be proud to be Mayor of Fort Woof, with its two large areas for dogs to roam, space divided into tracts for dogs over and under 40 pounds in weight. Water stations, benches, a healthy supply of plastic bags and well-defined park rules make Fort Woof a terrific place for dogs and humans alike.

Three dog day: Two pooches get acquainted as a third gets out of the sun at Pilgrim Bark Park, an artistically inspired spot that distills Provincetown’s pride in being a “canine resort.” Dogs get acquainted at Pilgrim Bark Park(Courtesy Cold Nose Photo)

Three dog day: Two pooches get acquainted as a third gets out of the sun at Pilgrim Bark Park, an artistically inspired spot that distills Provincetown’s pride in being a “canine resort.”

Pilgrim Bark Park
Provincetown, Mass
History tells us that two dogs, an Old English mastiff and an English springer spaniel, arrived near what’s now modern Provincetown with the Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower in 1620. The Pilgrim Bark Park celebrates this canine American history, as well asProvincetown’s contemporary reputation as an arts locale.

Local artists designed benches and other features for the park, including a miniature Mayflower ship, the human-sized doghouse at the park’s entrance, and three fire hydrants painted to look like canine versions of Provincetown’s police officers, firefighters and public workers. The artists also pitched in to fund the park by auctioning designer dog houses.

The dog park distills all of Provincetown’s pride in being a “canine resort.” Visitors can check out the dog drinking water fountain on the lawn of the historic town hall, as well as pet-friendly dining, accommodations and shopping options.

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