Address: 9420 Harney Rd, Tampa, FL 33637
Hilltop Dog Park is the one I visit the most often. It’s in Temple Terrace, and I usually just call it Temple Terrace Dog Park. There are separate large and small dog areas. Sometimes people who have both a large and small dog end up bringing their large dog into the small dog area, but it’s always a super friendly large dog and no one really cares. I’ve been to this dog park dozens of times and never seen a dog fight in the small dog area, so I feel really comfortable here.
Is it weird that I feel like my personality should make me a “large dog person,” but I have a small dog and have always had a small dog, so I guess I cannot deny being a “small dog person?” I mean, there is a definite sort of stereotype or branding, if you will, that is associated with dog size. Large dog owners take road trips across the country in their Jeeps or whatever and stop spontaneously in nature areas to play Frisbee with their large dog and when they’re not out traveling and having adventures they go running with their large dog on weekdays when they get off work whereas small dog owners just like sit and eat chocolate and take their small dog with them to the salon in a big purse and no one else can pet the small dog otherwise it will growl because it was never properly socialized.
At least that’s what I think people are thinking when they ask, “What kind of dog do you have?” and then after I answer say, “Oh, so it’s a small dog,” with disappointment in their voice, or say, “I want a dog too, but I’m going to get a big dog.” It’s like, yeah, okay, at what maturity level are you if you are making yourself feel superior to me because of a dog you don’t even own yet!
Sometimes birds of prey fly over the dog park and on more than one occasion I’ve had other dog owners come over to me and suggest I stand near my dog or even pick him up so he doesn’t get snatched up by a bird. I don’t think the birds are actually scoping him out, but now I go stand near him whenever they’re overhead just so no one will come tell me to.
Everyone at this dog park is super friendly and there are many people who remember Walnut’s name. People often stand around chatting. I usually sit on a far-off bench and read a book. That’s my preference, which is why I do it, but I also feel a little rude. Sometimes I have I-wish-I-were-an-extrovert moments at this dog park. The main reason I go there is to exercise my dog and relax, and for me, making small talk with people I don’t know is not at all relaxing, whereas sitting in the sun and reading a book is extremely relaxing. But this dog part does seem to be one of the few truly public spaces I’ve seen where strangers spontaneously interact with each other. Maybe going forward I will try to involve myself in conversation for at least 5-10 minutes before cloistering myself off to read.