By Jill Jennings Golich
I have two dogs – Shamus and Sophie and am the campus planner for the Auraria Higher Education Center a/k/a the Auraria Campus. I love Denver, but had to move to the suburbs 2.5 years ago since my husband and I work in different directions. Thankfully, I’m only 10 minutes away from my old NW Denver neighborhood of West Highlands. Though I moved to the burbs, I chose not to live in a house dominated by a garage. Instead, the most prominent feature of our house is the front porch. I will be blogging about the amenities needed to create a vibrant urban environment, including the pedestrian realm.
Though I made the choice to have dogs, I did not make the choice to have a large yard. While I grew up on 6 acres, I have never had the desire to own a large plot of land. I most enjoy spending time on my front porch, not the back yard. Instead, I rely on parks to provide the needed open space for those times I want to walk or play catch; and I also rely on dog parks to provide space for my dogs to run and play.
I spend most weekend mornings in the local dog park. I spend almost as much time in my car driving to and from the dog park. A dog park was proposed within walking distance from our house, but the immediate neighbors felt putting a dog park in the vacant field would lower their property values and create traffic congestion. This dog park would have been part of a larger park and recreation space, which would have provided recreation opportunities for everyone in the family. Unfortunately, a dog park in this area was not approved.
Having a pet has been shown to increase one’s level of happiness. Being able to exercise and socialize one’s dog makes for a happy pet, and a happy pet owner. As society continues to encourage increased levels of density and Denver seeks to have more people live downtown, we must not forget to provide green space – both for humans and for our pets.
Though I just wrote “green space”, dog parks shouldn’t necessarily be green space. Grass just does not work as a surface in a dog park. I’ve been to four dog parks in and around Denver, and it’s becoming obvious that designers of dog parks don’t spend time in dog parks. I’ll leave that for another time.
Human parks and dog parks provide opportunities for socialization and exercise. On the weekends, I hang out with my dog park friends while our dogs run as much as they can. It’s an enjoyable time for my husband and me, and our dogs. I just wish a nice dog park was within walking distance, a part of the larger human park instead of being a 15 minute drive away.
Be a responsible pet owner and encourage the development of more parks in our neighborhoods – these spaces are essential to creating a dynamic living experience.
Jill Jennings Golich is the campus planner for the Auraria Higher Education Center in Downtown Denver. Jill received a Master in Public Administration from the University of Washington in 2003 where she studied urban and community development, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Denver in 2000. She is a LEED Green Associate and active in the Downtown Denver Partnership’s Transportation and Development Council.