Luisa Benton moved in to the Arts Apartments two-and-a-half years ago. At the time, the apartment complex wasn’t even finished; in fact, she was the 10th person in the building. The philosophy professor at Richland College brought two very special friends with her—her rescue dogs: Molly, a lab mix, and Bailey, a Husky mix. The 9- and 12-year-old dogs lived with Benton for several years in her house before she decided to move downtown.
Molly and Bailey don’t mind being urban dogs. They’ve adjusted well to their new lifestyle, which comes with five or six walks a day. But for Benton, the walks aren’t easy. Though she’ll sometimes make the mile-long trek to Main Street Garden or the jog down to Bark Park Central in Deep Ellum, it’s tough on the dogs. They’re not as young as they used to be. And, during the summer, the concrete gets hot on their paws.
Benton and her dogs aren’t the only ones struggling to find a good, off-leash option. “It seems like everyone in our building has at least one dog, maybe two,” Benton says. “We’re always out walking our dogs.”
So, for Benton, Molly, Bailey, and all their neighbors, My Best Friend’s Park at the Klyde Warren Park is a very welcome addition. The dog park is 115 feet long, 40 feet wide, and occupies 4,000 square feet. There’s a self-cleaning drinking bowl and a chasing fountain that allows dogs to follow the water as it jumps from one bowl to another.
Administrators studied various parks around the country and opted to use a decomposed granite and gravel mixture for the surface. The berms are covered in a synthetic turf that has been treated with an anti-microbial agent, which will help with odors. The mixture is porous, allowing for easy cleaning. The rest of the park has a smooth textured concrete paver, which the park staff promises will be easy on the pups’ paws.
There will be plenty of seating areas along the park so owners can rest and chat while their dogs play. One thing that’s been seen by dog parks downtown (including Main Street Garden and Belo Garden) is that they bring a great sense of community for residents. Benton has seen this when she’s walked her dogs to the downtown parks. “People kind of congregate there,” she says. “But I do have a sense that that will happen over here, too.”
Garrett Boone, chairman emeritus of The Container Store, loves his dog, Buddy, as much as Benton loves hers. Buddy is a 22-pound schnauzer/poodle mix, or a Schnoodle. Boone describes him as “a cloud with four little legs.”
When Boone and his children heard about the Klyde Warren Park, they knew they wanted to be involved. “The idea of this park being the front lawn of the whole Arts District and being close to the [Perot Museum of Nature and Science], it sounded like fun,” Boone says. “Our whole family fell in in love with the idea of this park.”
Boone’s family foundation gave money to go toward sustainable features in the park, such as the solar-powered lights, water reclamation components, and LEED certification for the restaurant. With their donation, the group was allowed to pick a part of the park to name. “We love dogs so much, we decided to name the dog park,” Boone says. It was his wife, Cecilia, who chose My Best Friend’s Park for the name. “We’ve had some great dogs,” Boone says. “That’s kind of how everybody feels about their dogs.”
Boone, who also has six “grand-dogs,” is looking forward to making the walk from his nearby condo to the park. “I’m hoping there will be some times that we walk Buddy down there and do stuff,” he says. “Having this park will be such a game-changer for Dallas. It’s a signature of a new Dallas, where we’re going to honor green space—and not have our lives so dominated by cars and freeways.”