I, like some of you reading this article, am a dog owner. I’m the proud (and for a while, sleep-deprived and bite-ridden) human to a soon-to-be 10-month-old Siberian Husky/German Shepherd mix. I enjoy nothing more than taking Captain to our local An-Jan for food (and getting the obligatory compliments on how cute he looks) and to Cooperhaus K9 for obedience training and day camp.
Besides that — and of course the Humane Society and PetSmart — I really don’t have anywhere else around Milpitas to take him.
Yes, I know the Humane Society has a dog park, but it’s members only. Which means a membership fee. Ed Levin, you say? Have you seen the photos of Ed Levin Dog Park on Yelp? There’s no way I’m paying anything, much less $6, for Captain to run around in a glorified sandlot with a grass patch that looks worse than Levi’s Stadium’s sod on a good day.
Milpitas needs a dog park. A good one. A free one.
One with double doors, a water fountain, well-kept grass, a fence, an off-leash area, and a small adjoining area for small dogs. You know, somewhere that’s not a human park. One where both my little guy and I can run around without fear of tearing our ACLs — because he loves to run. And, you know, one where he can meet fellow canines and do his absolutely adorable play bow until he realizes that dog isn’t in the mood for playing…then repeat with the next dog…
Dog parks are a curious community space. Trust me, I’ve been to at least a dozen of them around the area: Butcher, Saratoga Creek, Del Monte, you name it. If you go to them often enough (which, when you’re a freelance writer who works from home, is more times than you’d like to admit), you’ll begin to notice some regulars. The Australian Cattle Dog whose humans are seniors in the real estate business. The shepherd whose human is an Aussie transplant. The American Staffordshire Terrier and all-white Siberian Husky whose humans are both into fantasy football and wine.
It’s when you frequent dog parks enough that you realize it really isn’t just about dogs, it’s about the community and conversation that forms around them:
“Oh your dog keeps biting you at home? Have you tried this behaviorist? Here, I’ll give you her number.”
“You know, I’ve heard sketchy things about that dog food. You should try this one! My dog loves eating it, and she never eats!”
“Don’t you just love that vet? He’s so good with big dogs!”
“Isn’t he so cute? Look at his eyes! How old is he?”
A 2014 study by the University of Waterloo surveyed dozens of dog park regulars and found that a dog park helped residents “build relationships and enhance communities.” The study repeatedly confirmed that dog parks allowed owners to meet people and form conversational bonds through their pets — much like users on an internet forum. It gave humans the opportunity to recommend and learn about local veterinarians, groomers, pet stores, and — here’s a big one — share referrals for housing, employment, and day care. Child day care.
How’s that for job creation?
The study also found that dog owners were asked by the local government to serve on committees ranging from park maintenance to pet overpopulation.
Civic engagement? Check.
Having a dog park in our city would help our family members thrive. It would give animal lovers and community organizers the chance to serve their community by maintaining a public space. It would keep our city green, our dogs good, and our families together while producing good community work and giving our neighbors the chance to claim a piece of land for them. A stark difference from the special interest groups and unaffordable housing that plague our city.
It’s on your docket, Mr. Mayor, so let’s get it done. Let’s get a dog park — a good one — in Milpitas. The people of our city need one for our good boys and girls.