Dear PoP – Upshur Dog Park Mess

“Dear PoP,

I was at the new Upshur dog park (4300 Arkansas Avenue, NW) today. A big gray muddy mess with the melting snow. Do you or any of your readers know if this is how it’s going to be on wet days or is there work still to be done? Had to hose off my shoes and give the dogs a bath after today’s visit.”

I’m guessing this is the way it’s gonna be. I know the Shaw park has pebbles and the 17th St, NW one is sloped and has what looks like astroturf. Does anyone know if the Upshur park has any plans to deal with weather situations?

63 Comment

  • Jeez, I hope so. I had the same problem when I took my pooch there a few weeks back. I can’t believe it would be left like this. It certainly needs something to cover the gray mess.

  • I haven’t been there for a month. First, because when the ground is frozen and the surface is uneven, I don’t think it is good for the dog’s paws. Second, because when it thaws out, it gets too muddy.

    I hope this is a temporary surface.

    • My husband took our dog to the park when the ground was frozen and she cut open one of the pads on her foot. Definitely too uneven.

  • I’m sure spiffying up the dog parks is top on the new mayor’s list of priorities.

    • houseintherear

      Yeah really. You screwed yourselves, Gray-lovers.

      • I think you’re mis-identifying the desires and core needs of Gray supporters. I doubt dog parks are high on *their* list of priorities.

        Or maybe you were being sarcastic, in which case… my bad.

  • There was a listserv discussion about this a little while ago. Apparently, the decision makers for the park decided that “pulverised granite” or something like that, would be the best choice for the surface. This is obviously a terrible decision for anyone who has actually used the park. Even if it’s dry the dust gets everywhere, and when it’s frozen the surface is rough even for the toughest of paws.

    I doubt they’ll do anything to fix it because that would require the ones who designed it to admit their mistake. I think the only way is for everyone to start some kind of collective where people donate money and then time to resurface the thing ourselves.

    • The dog park group was not given much choice by DPR about the surface, mostly for financial reasons but also because that’s the surface DPR prefers.

      This was discussed at multiple meetings that were open to the public, publicized on the listserv and promoted with fliers.

      If you do not like the results, you can raise money and cajole the city into changing the surface. When you are done, come back to this forum and watch people complain.

  • I can tell you that this is it, folks. This is also the surface DPR chose for Kingsman Field. (which should be open by the end of the month!)

    It’s a wet, muddy mess in the winter and a dry, dusty mess in the summer. The people at Shaw complained that the dogs didn’t like the pebbles and only played on the surrounding surfaces and there turned out to be some issues (drainage and otherwise) with the K9 grass at Dupont. We’d originally wanted K9 grass for our park, but DPR said that this decomposed granite stuff is their preference.

    It sucks b/c my dog and I won’t be using the park that I’ve been working so hard on as a board member of Hill Hounds, b/c it’s just way, way too messy.

    • I don’t understand people complaining about the pebbles at Shaw. I’ve seen the tiniest fragile little dogs playing on it just fine. It’s really the only surface that makes any sense, which I guess is why it will never be used again.

  • I live by the Kingsman Field and was looking forward to the openning. Bummer! Back to Shirlington Park we go.

    BTW, has anyone been to the dog park over by McLean Gardens?

  • There’s a similar problem with the WMATA unofficial/official dog park at 11th & Park, which just has dirt that formerly was grass. The only viable answer is the kind of pebbles that you see in dog parks in cities that know what the hell they’re doing, like NYC. The pulverized grantie crap is truly awful — a year-round nuisance.

  • You guys really complain a lot. Just be grateful you have a dog park.

    • houseintherear

      The dog park is useless this way, and this is a worthwhile discussion. If you don’t appreciate these comments, read something else.

      • No, the dog park isnt useless – its patently false to make such an assertion. Stop being so sensitive. First, as you noted, its not going to be changed. Second, not everyone gets everything they want. You got a dog park. It doesnt have the kind of ground covering you would like. Be grateful when you get something that you can use and appreciate. Otherwise, it makes it seem like you, and those urging dog parks, can never be satisfied. With this tact, you become even less likely to get what you want next time.

        Its really just silly to complain about what kind of ground your precious dog runs around in. If my dog gets dirty at the park, I give him a bath.

        Im just really happy I can live in a city that accommodated my needs. We could have no open spaces at all – what would you be saying then?

        • Agreed. There obviously aren’t any great solutions for a surface at a dog park. Grass lasts for about three minutes and then is bare, hard-packed dirt or mud. Some dogs won’t go on pebbles/gravel (ours included). The pulverized granite turns into mud. Personally, I’d rather have a dog park that my dog will use, but which sometimes makes her need a bath, over nothing.

        • It’s not idiotic to hope that a muddy dog park might one day have a better surface, especially if other dog parks around town have them. And not everyone is into washing a muddy dog.

          • It’s bad for their skin to wash them more than more than a couple times a month.

          • You dont have to use soap. Dogs can get wet. They’re animals, not paper mache.

          • Even if it’s just water it strips away natural oils from their skin. Same reason a lot of people with dry skin only shower a few times a week in the winter.

          • We use the hose outside, no soap. Not my dog’s favorite thing in the world, but it does the trick, and quickly. She’s medium-sized but with short legs, so she gets filthy even from a walk in the rain. I honestly don’t see the big deal.

          • How would you like to be hosed down with ice-cold water, especially this time of year?

        • I am not giving my dog a bath every single day. Or even 5 days a week. That’s what this surface would necessitate for my dog.

          And as far as you saying, “Be grateful when you get something that you can use and appreciate,” I think the point is that we can neither use nor appreciate it as a direct result of the ground covering.

          Dog parks – as is all too frequently pointed out on this blog and others – are not cheap. It’s unfortunate then that so many people can’t actually use them when they’re built.

          Understand that I’m on the board of Hill Hounds, the nonprofit “friends of” group at Kingsman and even we had no say in the surface – if we did, this would not have been our choice. I am obviously very pro-dog park but I’m not pro anything that is expensive but ultimately useless.

          • I understand your frustration, but governance is a balance of all different interests and priorities. Having the attitude that if its not exactly what you want, its useless, is not productive.

            Its a dog park – I’m thrilled we have so many. Its really too bad that these concerns are going to lead to them not being used. The lack of use wont lead to a better ground surface, instead they’ll just go away.

          • So, what do you want? Given that real grass is impractical, the fake grass had issues, some dogs won’t walk on gravel/pebbles, and pulverized granite is too messy. Do you actually have a solution, or are you just complaining for the sake of complaining

          • So what if we just requested one Saturday when everyone brings a bag or two of fine pebbles from Home Depot and dumps it on the ground?

        • Actually, we had a dog park. The grass that used to be there didn’t bother me, it drained rather quickly

  • No @dreas – and not sure why you feel the need to be so obnoxious about it. Clearly, as an active board member of an organization dedicated to a dog park, I’m looking for a solution – that DPR was unwilling to find. K9 grass has proved to be a great solution at many parks. The reasons DPR has said it isn’t working at Dupont may or may not be tied to the grass itself – or could be completely related to the grading, drainage or other issues, but they’ve dismissed it as an option. Obviously real grass isn’t a great choice – although, as a frequent user of Lincoln Park, even the dust is less messy (for my dog – can’t speak for others) than decomposed granite.

    We worked with DPR to find a surface, and despite that, they still chose this (likely b/c it’s cheaper for them). I’m not just going to “use it anyway” and make my dog get a bath or even hosed down every damn day just b/c DPR made a bad decision.

    • Nichole – here’s the thing… whatever ground you preferred would have been opposed by someone else. I get your gripe – but there is no way to make everyone happy all the time.

      • This. And I’m not being obnoxious. It was an honest question. In the comments here, you didn’t propose another solution, just complained about the one that had been chosen.

        • Apologies if I misread your comment, but I was not complaining just to complain. Your point is fair – but rest assured, I’ve busted my ass to work with the community, other Hill Hounds members and DPR to find a solution, but this is where it landed. I hope that it proves to be a choice that works for most people and that these parks are well used.

      • Totally true! Which is why Hill Hounds didn’t raise more of a fuss over it. If this is the surface that will get the most use and make the most people happy – I’m just happy other people will be able to use and enjoy the park, b/c I do have other places to go.

        I’m just worried that it won’t get used once people see how messy it is. And that would really be the shame here, no?

        • I’m confident that you could put burning coals and used needles as the ground covering and a dog park in just about any neighborhood in this city would have plenty of users every day.

          • And you seem to think that that’s good enough. you sound like a great owner by the way /s.

          • I was waiting for some half-wit to interpret my comments literally. Clearly, I dont mind if my dog runs around on burning coals.

            Yes, I am a terrible dog owner because I use hyperbole on the internet. Got Me!

          • I’m sure you were refreshing the page in anticipation.

            But actually, I wasn’t taking it literally. I was making the point that based on your comments so far, it seems you don’t believe that it really matters how a dog park is constructed as long as there is space. Fine, that is your opinion. However, others have made valid arguments to why this particular dog park isn’t satisfactory and why it makes them angry. They have a right to make that argument without being pressured or attacked by the likes of you….nitwit.

          • Weird, it was perfectly civil until you started calling people douches and saying they dont treat their dogs properly.

            In fact, w00t, I just heard… you finally stopped beating your dog yesterday…is this true? yes or no?

          • To be fair that guy was just trolling and trolling = douchery.

            It was civil? this sounds a lot like attacking people for their opinions:

            “You guys really complain a lot. Just be grateful you have a dog park.”
            “Stop being so sensitive.”
            “Its really just silly to complain about what kind of ground your precious dog runs around in.”

          • If thats attacking, you DO need to stop being so sensitive.

            See what I did there?

      • Not in DC there isn’t. A city run by morons paid for by frightened apologists who are willing to pay through the nose just as long as no one suggests they are ungrateful in any way – for living in an expensive cesspool of crime, inefficiency, and ignorance.

  • AstroTURF! Ruff, ruff!

  • My puppy visited the Shaw dog park and he was so sad. I had to put doggy ointment on his poor little doggy paws afterward and the doggy ointment stained his doggy cashmere sweater. What kind of a terrible city do we live in? My Cookie can’t even get decent flooring at the closest dog park? Cookie and I simply can’t live such barbaric lives.

  • I believe we should install some French drainage and tie it into a self-sustaining solar-powered filter to recycle as doggy drinking fountains.

  • I take my dog to this park before work almost every day and he’s gotten dirty maybe once. Maybe it’s because the ground is still cold in the morning, but it works just fine for me. For me, higher priorities are fixing the exterior gate and making sure that the park is open when it’s supposed to be: 7AM. But these are small potatoes–I’m just happy to have a space outside of my 450 sq ft apartment where my dog can run free.

  • My dog has achieved a higher consciousness and simply floats.

  • When puppy and I visit friends in NYC the dog park we go to is aphsalt. There is a faucet and hose to use on your dog and on the poop and pee messes.

  • Rock dust is the stuff they use in upscale horse corrals, it is easy on the horses’ legs and hooves and lets waste drain through. But then the riders are mostly on the horse’s back, far above the dust, and the horses are going home to a barn, not somebody’s living room. They need to rethink this surface.
    The neighbors who use the Clark Field (E.L. Haynes new campus at Webster St.) to walk their dogs are restricted in usage hours (before 7 am on school days) but they seem to be doing a good job of cleaning up their poop on the playing field, props to them. In Adams Morgan I got pretty sick of irresponsible dog owners leaving crap in every other tree box when there was a fenced in dog park and unofficial dog parks two blocks in either direction.

  • The S St dog park is useless because it stinks and people don’t pick up after their dogs.
    In fact, there’s an epidemic of dog owners around the S St dog park that let their fidos poop anywhere and just assume it’ll go away if they carry on like it never came out of their dog.

    I’ve been yelled at by people who assume it’s my dog (yeah, because I have a big dog she must spend all day pooping?) when I even pick up after other people’s dogs to avoid the bad rap we get for it.

    Appreciate your dog parks and pick up your dog’s shit!!!

  • houseintherear

    @dog owner: Please spend a minute thinking about the money taken out of your paychecks and given to the city every 2 weeks. Your taxes pay for these dog parks. When your money is used to finance a park that 1/10 dog owners will use, as opposed to 9/10 if it were properly constructed, your money is being wasted. Does this really not frustrate you?

    (Unless of course you’re a MD or VA resident and pay no DC taxes, in which case you should absolutely not be a part of this discussion.)

  • I’m sorry but dogs are animals, when they play outside they are going to get dirty. There is really no avoiding that whether you live in a city or in the country on acres of land. Most of the year your dog is going to get muddy/dirty. The only real solution is keeping them inside, which is unfair and probably means you shouldn’t have gotten a dog.
    I rinse my dog off every day after she plays outside, I’ve learned to adapt, it takes about 5 minutes, and is worth it for her to have the freedom and exercise. Yes it would be great if I didn’t have to, but I think its a small and manageable price to pay.
    Also, some rain boots or outdoor boots that are intended to be worn in muddy conditions might be a good idea.

    • If my dog began to associate going outside with getting a hose down – particularly in the winter (she has hair, not fur, so no warm undercoat) – I’m pretty sure she would stop going outside altogether. Kind of how you’re supposed to take your pet on car trips where the outcome is pleasurable at least as often, if not more, than where the outcome is the vet.

      And, of course, as others have mentioned, that much water that frequently is bad for their skin.

      Luckily she’s perfectly happy just being wherever I am, and when she gets a burst of energy she gladly runs around and around the wrap-around patio at our house for about 5 minutes and then curls back up next to me and goes to sleep.

      The park is where she goes to play with other dogs, which I would love for her to be able to do more often, but we’ll probably just end up sticking to Lincoln Park instead of getting a hose down every day and having her stop wanting to go out at all.

  • My dog loves the Upsher dog park, even if she gets a little dirty. It only takes a few minutes to clean her off. I’m just happy to have a dog park near my house.

  • I’m really not picky about where my dog ends up going for a walk, and neither is he. But the surface of the park is gross and muddy, so no more going there for us. I would rather walk the dog around the neighborhood then get home and spend an hour hosing him down, washing my boots and cleaning up the dirt we tracked from the park. The park is well set up, so why not change the surface? Can’t be that hard of a fix…

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