But, surprisingly, there was no such thing before 1979. Sure, there were areas where folks and dogs met up to play, but they weren't official. That means there were no doggie water fountains, rest areas, or double gates. So who do we have to thank for the modern miracle of dog parks? The credit belongs to a little bird called the snowy plover.
In the late 1970s snowy plover numbers were plummeting along America's Pacific coast. One big culprit seemed to be off-leash dogs running amok through their nesting areas. So the dogs and their people moved inland, and started using parks instead of the beach as their playground. Naturally this caused some friction with those that wanted their parks to be dogs-on-leashes only zones. A compromise was reached in 1979 when the Experimental Dog Park was opened in Berkeley. It was the world's first dog park. The concept was so new that many people stopped by to ask what kinds of experiments were being done there!
Since then almost 1,000 dog parks have opened across the U.S. The Experimental Dog Park has been re-christened The Martha Scott Benedict Memorial Dog Park. And the concept has spread around the world. Helsinki seems to have the most, and nicest canine playgrounds per capita. Sadly, the worst one is supposedly right here in Los Angeles. But that's okay. There are plenty to choose from. And our city dog prefers any day at the park to a day spent lounging on the couch.