Dog parks are a part of our landscape in the 21st century. 100 years ago, if you had said that there would be designated green areas for dogs. Saying that it would be illegal to be in that park without a plastic bag, would the question be "What is a plastic bag" or "What do you need one of those for?"
Our lives have changed so much that dogs don't just run wild, and that we are actually required to pick up after them. "100 years ago me" would probably have a great big belly laugh. But times, they are a changin'.
Now, we have urban dog parks, and even dog parks on top of buildings (or at least on terraces many floors up off the ground). It hasn't progressed to the point of The Jetson's yet, with Astro on a hovering treadmill outside the glass apartment we live in, but its a lot closer to that than chasing the cows around the field.
With all the new available spaces for an apartment dwellers canine companion, we still hear horror stories about buildings where certain stairwells are used as doggie bathrooms. These give way to an argument for landlords restricting pet ownership in their buildings, or requiring prohibitive damage deposits for people that want/need a companion animal. Even in some high end condo developments the possibility of this happening has led to restrictions that they condo owners have to contractually abide by. In many cases, this takes away the option of having a pet from people who dearly need a furry friend.
Back to dog parks. These urban canine oasis's give us a place to take our pets and give them freedom that they can't find in an apartment or even in a fenced yard. Socialization with other dogs is an important part of becoming a good pet. Play is also something that we all don't get enough of, and these places give us all, pet and owner, a chance to play.
Dog parks don't exist out of nothing, though. They require participation by the users, either in funding or in maintaining. Most parks have regular clean up days, some have volunteers that get sponsors to provide coffee and treats, and clean up supplies. Most parks have membership drives to raise funds to help provide improvements in the park, and help cover costs.
As you know, I live in St. Vital. Maple GroveDogPark is our local park, and is enjoyed daily by many of my friends and neighbors. There have been many a muddy paw mark left on the floor in our store from an excited puppy who had just returned from there. Sept 24th (or Oct 1 if "the weather bites") they will be having a BBQ / membership drive, from 10am to 2pm. If you are in the neighborhood, come check out the fun. Or if you live elsewhere, check out your local park, and see what you can do to help.