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No dogs were harmed in the taking of this photo. (Image: Dogwood)
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There's an indoor dog park SLASH bar that will probably save your life this rainy winter

Hi, my name is Britt – and I had a full-blown breakdown in my car last week. Like – a crying, hyperventilating, alarming breakdown. And it was all because of my dog.

Remi is a 1-year-old Staffy-Shepherd mix who is usually the light of my life. But the girl needs exercise - a TON of exercise - before her angelic qualities can really shine through. Otherwise, it’s full on puppy tantrums. Anyone with a youngster (human or canine) has been there, and knows what I mean.

But – come on. That’s nothing to cry about, right? Of course puppies need attention and exercise Britt, suck it up! You knew what you were getting yourself into when you got a dog. BUT GUESS WHAT. I got Remi in spring of this year, and I have not been through a Seattle fall or winter with her yet. This is our first. And last Tuesday, when I was rushing home from work to pick her up and take her on a walk, the reality of what this meant fully hit me:

  • It was pouring down rain
  • It was pitch black
  • The dog park was empty, and not lit
  • The open field we usually go to throw the ball was completely dark. Also, I didn’t have special Glow In The Dark balls, and she’d lose her ball in < one second.
  • The only open fields that were lit were filled with kids playing soccer or football. Damn kids.

I was driving in circles around a city that supposedly prides itself in being dog-friendly – and I could NOT for the life of me find a place to exercise my dog at 6 p.m. This is where the frustration started, and the more I drove and drove, the more fields I passed that weren’t lit, or that were packed with kids - the more empty dog parks we drove by, the more Remi cried in the backseat, the more I realized that winter technically hasn't even started, and it was JUST GOING TO GET DARKER.

That’s when the tears came. Full-on crying in the car on a Tuesday night, folks. Yup – that’s me.

I tell you about this experience not just to humiliate myself, but also because I know Seattle, and how much we love our dogs, and I know that this must be an issue for a ton of you dog owners as well. One walk in the morning or at lunchtime (if you’re lucky to live close to home), just doesn’t cut it for a lot of dogs. And not exercising them past 5 p.m. is just not an option for those of us who work full-time, and live in a city where rain and darkness is a guaranteed for about 6-7 months of the year.

The light at the end of the tunnel here (pun intended) is Dogwood Play Park. I found it that fateful Tuesday night whilst frantically googling “indoor dog parks” – and I think it just might be the answer to my (and your) fall/winter blues.

The play park is an 8,000 square foot indoor facility in the Lake City area of Seattle, where dogs and their owners can drop in during the day and night to get those zoomies out. They’re open until 10 p.m. on weekdays, which is a godsend for those who might not even get home until after 6:30 p.m.

Dogwood provides toys and balls for the pups, an outdoor area for them to do their business and a bar area for the humans. Yup, you heard me correctly – the off-leash play park has an adjoining bar area where owners can grab a local beer, cider or wine and kick back after a long day. While they don’t serve food, you’re more than welcome to bring your own in (there’s a Thai food truck right up the street), and they even have specials like $1 off drinks every Monday.

Unfortunately unlike other dog parks, Dogwood is not free. A one-time entry is $12 per dog, and a monthly membership is $49. I will say that with the membership, you and your pup can swing by an unlimited number of times per month – something I’ll likely be relying heavily on November through February at the very least. Personally, that cost is worth it for me. I know that there will be at least one day a week when it will be too dark, cold and rainy to take Remi to the dog park, and I’ll want to head to Dogwood. If I average one visit per week (~$48), I might as well pay the extra couple bucks for the membership if – heaven forbid – a real rainy spell hits and I need to go twice or three times in a week.

A couple other things to note about Dogwood before you go:

  • Since it’s technically a bar, it’s 21+
  • The floor is cement, so heads up if your dog is weird about surfaces
  • No outside toys or balls are allowed in, but they do have their own you and your dog can use
  • Your dog has to be well socialized, and generally do well with other dogs
  • Along those lines - owners are responsible for the behavior of their own dogs, and must be there at all times when doing drop-ins. (They also offer doggy daycare, click here for more info if you’re interested)
  • Proof of current vaccinations are required (Rabies, Bordetella & DHPP)
  • If they’re over a year old, dogs need to be spayed or neutered

So, if any of the above sob story resonated with you (you work full-time, your dog drives you crazy without exercise, you don’t get home until late, you don’t have lit or covered areas easily accessible to you) – I highly recommend considering Dogwood. For Remi and I for the next couple months, it’s going to be a dogsend.

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