Sayaka & Anthony photoby Sayaka Matsuoka

They run at lightning speed, full of infinite vibrating energy, slobbering, tripping over each other and getting mud on once-polished coats. They chase and play, making new friends every time butts are sniffed.

Where else besides a dog park can these slobbering balls of fur be let off their leashes to run around and expend all of their pent-up energy? To owners, it’s an invaluable haven that keeps their furry friends from chewing on slippers or knocking over everything in apartments time and time again.

Winston-Salem has two notable places to set dogs free: Washington Park and Horizon Park. Both offer separate enclosed areas for small and larger dogs. Washington Park although popular on the weekends has gotten some negative reviews because of the prevalence of sand which encourages many dogs to relieve themselves in the pit, much like a giant dog litter box. The latter, Horizon Park is known to be the slightly “nicer” park with two acres of green grass for dogs to run off leash. Although Washington Park may have raised some questions about health and cleanliness, Winston-Salem currently wins as the Triad city with the best dog park scene, mainly because of the locality of both parks and their popularity.

The most well known and popular dog park in Greensboro is the Bark Park in Country Park. With two large enclosures, one for larger dogs and one for smaller, more timid pups, the facility is made up of more than four acres of romping grounds. If owners roll up before 4:15 p.m. on a weekday or on a sunny weekend afternoon, they’re bound to witness anywhere from 15 to 30 rowdy four-legged mutts running around, smiling and drooling everywhere.

Here, there’s always bound to be playmates for man’s best friend, but there are downsides. For many, the park is all the way across town. Before 4:15 p.m. owners can park right next to the area but many times, especially on weekends, they are forced to park at least half a mile away.

That may be fine in the summer and spring, but it’s less than enjoyable in the bitter winter, especially when Fido can’t wait to see his friends and pulls with inexplicable force the whole way. The park is also considerably crowded during most afternoons, being the most popular off-leash enclosure in the city.

For those yearning for a smaller, less crowded play place, Southwest Park is closer to Jamestown than to central Greensboro, meaning it is also far for many Gate City dog owners. This one isn’t as well known and is often referred to as a “hidden gem” by many, not guaranteeing a playmate many days.

Not long ago, Pop Up Greensboro, a collaborative endeavor by various Greensboro organizations, created a pop-up dog park downtown from October 2013 until June 2014 at the corner of Elm and Lee streets. Although the location was small, it was a prime spot for many Greensborians who live in the center of the city.

It was within walking distance of restaurants that allow dogs on their patios, making lunch with pooch possible. With the insane amount of dogs in Greensboro, an addition to the dog park scene would be welcomed by many. Although a permanent location in busy downtown might not be viable, plans for a dog park in the new Keeley Park off of Lee Street was in the works two years ago and part of the park’s original plan. And for all of Greensboro’s dog owners, let’s hope those plans aren’t too far off so we can catch up to Winston-Salem.

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