dog parks, dogs, Florida, places

Picnic Island Dog Beach (Tampa, FL)

7409 Picnic Island Blvd, Tampa, FL 33616

picnic island dog beach tampa

I love the dog beach! It’s so nice to sit and let my dog run around while looking at something pretty. Even though this dog beach is called Picnic Island, it’s never crossed my mind to bring a picnic there until now.

picnic island dog beach tampa

This is one of the biggest dog parks/beaches I go to, if not the biggest. There’s so much space. That’s nice because people can interact when they want, or do their own thing.

picnic island dog beach tampa

There are a few park benches and they’re pretty far apart, so it’s really easy to sit and read without having to talk with anyone.

picnic island dog beach tampa

Every time I’ve been here, I’ve seen fish jump out of the water, which is fun. Although since then someone told me that fish jump out of water when the water is polluted and they’re trying to get more oxygen…

picnic island dog beach tampa

If you’re in Tampa, I highly recommend Picnic Island Dog Beach. There aren’t big and small dog areas, but every time I’ve been there, the big dogs have been friendly. Also, it’s a waaay less busy dog beach than Davis Island Dog Beach, which is perfect for introverts like me.

dog parks, dogs, Florida, places

Gadsden Dog Park in Tampa, FL

Gadsden Dog Park          6901 S. MacDill Ave. Tampa, FL 33611

This was a nice dog park. My parents were in town when I went there. I don’t think they’ve spent much time in dog parks before. This might’ve even been their first one. They seemed to dig it.

I took this photos months ago. I don’t go to dog parks any more because I don’t have a car any more. That means I take longer, more frequent walks, but read much less.

I don’t really want to stay in Tampa another year. But, Tampa has a good job for me, so I probably shouldn’t leave until I can land something better. Is there a word for when you know you need to make a change, but you haven’t made it yet?

Also, how to be patient and satisfied during those times, instead of longing for the change or trying to rush things along? This is an issue I’ve faced in almost every area: career, health, relationships, etc.

Do you ever feel like you’re behind? I don’t mean in a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses type of way. I mean like there’s always a gap between what you’re doing and what you want to be doing.

I guess everyone feels that way, unless they’re complacent? I guess we’re designed that way. That’s what desire and motivation are about. I guess it’s a good thing, but isn’t it frustrating?

I’ve also noticed this in creative work. The project I’m excited about is rarely the one I’m actively working on. I’m finishing the drudgery of the current project while dreaming of the next project, because I want to finish things to completion rather than start and stop, dashing around without focus, without building.

I guess that points to the importance of mindfulness. If you aren’t present, you’ll never be happy, even in your “dream job,” or with your “dream guy” (or woman). There’s always an impulse to want something else. Not necessarily something different, but something deeper, more, the next level. The tricky part is honoring instead of burying that impulse without letting it overrun you.

I think the trick is to try and do both. Be loyal, be faithful, be reliable, be trustworthy, engage in the day-to-day, the work, the tedium, but bring some of that excitement for the next thing, the other thing, into the framework of now. For example, follow through and post the months-old dog park blog post that’s on your to-do list, but between the photos and your analysis of the park (friendly dogs, friendly owners, 100% recommend), write a bunch that feels real and living, inject the stale with what’s on your mind N-O-W.

dog parks, dogs, Florida, places

Hilltop Dog Park (Temple Terrace, FL)

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!

Hilltop Dog Park Temple Terrace 2

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.

Hilltop Dog Park Temple Terrace 3

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.

dog parks, dogs, Florida, places

Rowlett Dog Park (Tampa, FL)

Address: 2401 E Yukon St, Tampa, FL 33604

rowlett dog parkI’m going to begin blogging about dog parks starting…now! I’m still going to blog about a bunch of other stuff (probably much more often now that I’m finishing school), so if you’re not into dog parks or don’t live in Florida, skip the dog park posts but still stay tuned.

Rowlett dog park was okay. It’s in the northern part of Tampa not far from where I live, so that appealed to me. It looked different from any other dog park I’ve been to–as soon as you enter, you rowlett dog parkwalk on an extended wooden walkway. My dog seemed to like that.

There were many cool things around for dog agility. I haven’t trained my dog in agility, but sometimes I think I’d like to, just for the fun of it, so it’s nice to know there are parks with agility courses nearby.

rowlett dog park


I saw a small dog area that also had an agility course, but it was locked up. I couldn’t find a sign stating a reason for it being closed. The small dog area looked very small in comparison to the rest of the park.

I really wish the small dog area had been open. We didn’t have the best experience at this park. There were several dogs there, all large, and two of them would not leave my dog alone. They weren’t overly aggressive and were just trying to play, I’m sure, but one of them kept barking over and over, which was scaring my dog, and together they were guarding him so he couldn’t run away.

At one point, Walnut, yelping in fear, broke away from the two large dogs to chase after me and a woman sitting on a picnic table said, “Run for your life!” to him. I’m sure she was joking, but it added to a feeling that my small dog didn’t belong there. She was essentially making fun of my dog for being harassed.rowlett dog park

I sat alone on a bench to read and my dog stayed pretty close to me since he was now scared. The dog that wouldn’t stop barking, kept coming over. Walnut would then hide under the bench and the big dog would stand there and bark at him. At one point the owner finally came over and pulled his dog away, but he acted irritated with me, as if the problem was my dog hiding under the bench rather than his dog barking repeatedly.

I know a lot about dogs and dog behavior and never know exactly how much to share with others when I’m at the dog park. I don’t want to come off as rude or condescending. Really though, dogs shouldn’t be continually barking at the dog park. It riles up the other dogs and even if the barking dog isn’t aggressive, consistent barking in a large group of dogs can lead to a dog fight. Dog owners who allow their dog to bark over and over at the park annoy me, though I usually don’t say anything and I didn’t say anything this day.

rowlett dog parkI also know a lot about dog owners and feel like many large dog owners do not like small dogs and vice-versa. Now maybe that wasn’t the case here, but it sure felt like it. There were several large dogs at the park, two of them acting inappropriately and terrifying my small dog, and all the humans essentially laughed at my dog instead of feeling bad for him or trying to intervene.

Later, a couple came into the dog park with another small dog. Not as small as my 9-pound dog, but maybe in the 20-30 lbs. range. The annoying barking dog began circling it, barking at it, scaring it, and generally not leaving it alone and shortly after, the other dog that had been harassing my dog began circling and guarding it. One of the small dog’s owners asked, “Whose dogs are these?” but no one answered him. Finally, the couple physically picked their dog up to get it away from the other two dogs and then they left, carrying their dog all the way out. I felt bad they had to experience that, but it also gave me vindication that it showed the dog owners that the issue was blatantly the two large dogs barking and guarding and not my dog acting scared. I decided to leave too.

I know one (or two) bad dogs shouldn’t ruin an entire dog park for me, but I don’t think I’ll be coming back to Rowlett any time soon unless the small dog section opens back up. I’ve been to a lot of dog parks and noticed two things: 1, they have regulars who come week after week and 2, they each have a certain culture. Maybe this was an off day at Rowlett, but I don’t want Walnut to have to face those annoying dogs again, and I don’t want to be around dog owners who laugh instead of intervening when a dog is being bullied.