Dogwood Park via Facebook 
Dogwood Park via Facebook 

10 Amazing Dog Parks

Dogwood Park via Facebook 
Dogwood Park via Facebook 

The modern dog park is designed to maximize fun for pups while also providing exercise, socialization, and enrichment. In honor of National Dog Day, here are a few parks you might want to visit with your pooch.


Pilgrim Bark Park via Facebook

Pilgrim Bark Park sits on an acre in Provincetown where dogs can run off-leash. (They also have a separate section for smaller pups, if that’s your preference.) But what sets this park apart is how local artists have adopted it as a gallery for sculptures that not only look great but double as play structures for dogs and resting places for owners. Pilgrim Bark Park depends completely on donations for support and will host the Carnival of the Dogs on August 29.


Kaci & Shiloh at the dog park @emtay047 #kaci #husky #puppy #shiloh #boxer

A photo posted by Kaci (@huskykaci) on


One of several dog parks in Houston, the 13-acre Millie Bush Dog Park is named after President George H.W. Bush’s springer spaniel Millie. The park has quite a few water attractions to keep canines cool in the Houston heat, including three different sized ponds to swim in, water fountains, and dog showers. There are also picnic tables for families just outside the dog area.


Lil' post #roadtrip #agility fun. #aussiedog #aussie #dog

A photo posted by Paul D. Hart (@pauldhartfilm) on


Jenny Wilson of Alabaster, Alabama, was once the shelter manager for the local Humane Society. In 2011, her design for a dog park won a competition from Beneful pet food, and the prize included a half-million dollars to build a dog park on the very site where Wilson found her rescue dog, Honey Belle. The Beneful Dream Dog Park opened in 2012 with plenty of amenities, including a football field, a dog wash station, a splash pad, agility course, rubberized walkways, and more.

The Beneful pet food company sponsors dog parks all around the country.


Margie and Olie had a blast playing fetch with new friends today. #Doberman #pointer #fetch #dogpark #dogsofinstagram

A video posted by Studio Fiveighteen (@studiofiveighteen) on


Iowa City donated 11 acres for its first dog park in 2006 at the behest of the Johnson County Dog Park Action Committee, which oversaw the project. Thornberry Off-Leash Dog Park is named for Dean Thornberry, who provided financial help to get the dog park launched. Now 12 acres, the completely fenced-in park features a pond, small-dog area, several shelters, an asphalt walking trail, a training area, and agility equipment.



People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) runs the Bea Arthur Dog Park named for the late Golden Girls actress and animal rights activist. The 1-acre park offers a ramp to the Elizabeth River, a bin full of dog toys, and 24-hour access.



Rocky Top Dog Park is administered by the township of South Brunswick, New Jersey for the residents of the town (although the park is in Princeton and the mailing address is in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey). The members-only park offers separate areas for all dogs, small dogs, and a training area for dogs that need closer supervision. The general play area has a pond with a waterfall, in addition to grassy fields, wooded areas, and walking trails. Memberships can be bought on a monthly or yearly basis.


Dogwood Park via Facebook

Dog Wood Park offers Florida dogs and their owners 42 acres to run, swim, and play in. The private “country club” for dogs includes a 25-acre fenced-in area, 10 acres of woods, a two-acre lake for swimming, a special swimming area for small dogs, playground and agility equipment, and a dog spa for washing. Visitors can attend with members and must pay a day rate. The park is lit for night use until closing at 10 p.m.



Dogs love the beach, but it’s difficult to find public beaches that welcome pets. Montrose Beach Dog Friendly Area, called Mondog for short, is Chicago’s first off-leash beach on Lake Michigan. The beach is a part of the Chicago Park District and is sponsored by the Montrose Dog Owners Group, a volunteer group that keeps the beach clean and orderly. The beach is fenced in, but the lake is not. Learn more about Montrose Dog Beach on Facebook.



Point Isabel Regional Shoreline contains 23 acres of dog-friendly public park on the San Francisco Bay. Pups are allowed off-leash as long as they are under voice control. Businesses at the shoreline that cater to canines include the Sit & Stay Cafe and Mudpuppy’s Tub and Scrub.


Play dates are always fun #freedombarkpark #LukeandLeia

A photo posted by Denise Corpus (@denisejc23) on


Freedom Bark Park is 5 acres of converted farmland in the city of Lowell’s Freedom Park. This park stands out among dog parks for its eco-friendliness: It features a solar well, recycled mulch, biodegradable waste bags, and play equipment that otherwise would have been destined for the dump. And the entire construction of the park was done by volunteers! Freedom Bark Park also has one feature few other dog parks have—a dedicated area for digging.

Wolfgang via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
8 Legendary Monsters of Christmas
Wolfgang via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Wolfgang via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

The customs of the holiday season, which include St. Nicholas Day, New Years Day, and Epiphany, as well as Christmas, often incorporate earlier pagan traditions that have been appropriated and adapted for contemporary use. Customs that encourage little children to be good so as to deserve their Christmas gifts often come with a dark side: the punishment you'll receive from a monster or evil being of some sort if you aren't good! These nefarious characters vary from place to place, and they go by many different names and images.


As a tool to encourage good behavior in children, Santa serves as the carrot, and Krampus is the stick. Krampus is the evil demon anti-Santa, or maybe his evil twin. Krampus Night is celebrated on December 5, the eve of St. Nicholas Day in Austria and other parts of Europe. Public celebrations that night have many Krampuses walking the streets, looking for people to beat. Alcohol is also involved. Injuries in recent years have led to some reforms, such as requiring all Krampuses to wear numbers so they may identified in case of overly violent behavior.

Krampus may look like a devil, or like a wild alpine beast, depending on what materials are available to make a Krampus costume. In modern times, people can spend as much as they like to become the best Krampus around—and the tradition is spreading beyond Europe. Many cities in America have their own Krampus Nights now.


Jólakötturinn is the Icelandic Yule Cat or Christmas Cat. He is not a nice cat. In fact, he might eat you. This character is tied to an Icelandic tradition in which those who finished all their work on time received new clothes for Christmas, while those who were lazy did not (although this is mainly a threat). To encourage children to work hard, parents told the tale of the Yule Cat, saying that Jólakötturinn could tell who the lazy children were because they did not have at least one new item of clothing for Christmas—and these children would be sacrificed to the Yule Cat. This reminder tends to spur children into doing their chores! A poem written about the cat ends with a suggestion that children help out the needy, so they, too, can have the protection of new clothing. It's no wonder that Icelanders put in more overtime at work than most Europeans.


Flickr // Markus Ortner

Tales told in Germany and Austria sometimes feature a witch named Frau Perchta who hands out both rewards and punishments during the 12 days of Christmas (December 25 through Epiphany on January 6). She is best known for her gruesome punishment of the sinful: She will rip out your internal organs and replace them with garbage. The ugly image of Perchta may show up in Christmas processions in Austria, somewhat like Krampus.

Perchta's story is thought to have descended from a legendary Alpine goddess of nature, who tends the forest most of the year and deals with humans only during Christmas. In modern celebrations, Perchta or a close relation may show up in processions during Fastnacht, the Alpine festival just before Lent. There may be some connection between Frau Perchta and the Italian witch La Befana, but La Befana isn't really a monster: she's an ugly but good witch who leaves presents.


A drawing of Belsnickel.
Lucas, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Belsnickel is a male character from southwestern German lore who traveled to the United States and survives in Pennsylvania Dutch customs. He comes to children sometime before Christmas, wearing tattered old clothing and raggedy fur. Belsnickel carries a switch to frighten children and candy to reward them for good behavior. In modern visits, the switch is only used for noise, and to warn children they still have time to be good before Christmas. Then all the children get candy, if they are polite about it. The name Belsnickel is a portmanteau of the German belzen (meaning to wallop) and nickel for St. Nicholas. See a video of a Belsnickel visit here.

Knecht Ruprecht and Ru Klaas are similar characters from German folklore who dole out beatings to bad children, leaving St. Nicholas to reward good children with gifts.


Hans Trapp is another "anti-Santa" who hands out punishment to bad children in the Alsace and Lorraine regions of France. The legend says that Trapp was a real man, a rich, greedy, and evil man, who worshiped Satan and was excommunicated from the Catholic Church. He was exiled into the forest where he preyed upon children, disguised as a scarecrow with straw jutting out from his clothing. He was about to eat one boy he captured when he was struck by lightning and killed—a punishment of his own from God. Still, he visits young children before Christmas, dressed as a scarecrow, to scare them into good behavior.


The French legend of Père Fouettard, whose name translates to "Father Whipper," begins with an evil butcher who craved children to eat. He (or his wife) lured three boys into his butcher shop, where he killed, chopped, and salted them. St. Nicholas came to the rescue, resurrected the boys, and took custody of the butcher. The captive butcher became Père Fouettard, St. Nicholas' servant whose job it is to dispense punishment to bad children on St. Nicholas Day.


The Jólasveinar, or Yule Lads, are 13 Icelandic trolls, who each have a name and distinct personality. In ancient times, they stole things and caused trouble around Christmastime, so they were used to scare children into behaving, like the Yule Cat. However, the 20th century brought tales of the benevolent Norwegian figure Julenisse (Santa Claus), who brought gifts to good children. The traditions became mingled, until the formerly devilish Jólasveinar became kind enough to leave gifts in shoes that children leave out ... if they are good boys and girls. 


All the Yule Lads answer to Grýla, their mother. She predates the Yule Lads in Icelandic legend as the ogress who kidnaps, cooks, and eats children who don't obey their parents. She only became associated with Christmas in the 17th century, when she was assigned to be the mother of the Yule Lads. According to legend, Grýla had three different husbands and 72 children, all who caused trouble ranging from harmless mischief to murder. As if the household wasn't crowded enough, the Yule Cat also lives with Grýla. This ogress is so much of a troublemaker that The Onion blamed her for the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano.

A version of this post originally ran in 2013. See also: more Legendary Monsters

Keystone/Getty Images
84 Years Ago Today: Goodbye Prohibition!
A huge queue outside the Board of Health offices in Centre Street, New York, for licenses to sell alcohol shortly after the repeal of prohibition. The repeal of prohibition was a key policy of Franklin Roosevelt's government as it allowed the government an opportunity to raise tax revenues at a time of economic hardship.
A huge queue outside the Board of Health offices in Centre Street, New York, for licenses to sell alcohol shortly after the repeal of prohibition. The repeal of prohibition was a key policy of Franklin Roosevelt's government as it allowed the government an opportunity to raise tax revenues at a time of economic hardship.
Keystone/Getty Images

It was 84 years ago today that the Twenty-First Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, repealing the earlier Amendment that declared the manufacture, sale, and transport of alcohol illegal in the United States. Prohibition was over! Booze that had been illegal for 13 years was suddenly legal again, and our long national nightmare was finally over.

A giant barrel of beer, part of a demonstration against prohibition in America.
Henry Guttmann/Getty Images

Prohibition of alcohol was not a popular doctrine. It turned formerly law-abiding citizens into criminals. It overwhelmed police with enforcement duties and gave rise to organized crime. In cities like Milwaukee and St. Louis, the dismantling of breweries left thousands of people unemployed.

Photograph courtesy of the Boston Public Library

Homemade alcohol was often dangerous and some people died from drinking it. Some turned to Sterno or industrial alcohol, which was dangerous and sometimes poisoned by the government to discourage drinking. State and federal governments were spending a lot of money on enforcement, while missing out on taxes from alcohol.

New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach (right) watches agents pour liquor into sewer following a raid during the height of Prohibition.

The midterm elections of 1930 saw the majority in Congress switch from Republican to Democratic, signaling a shift in public opinion about Prohibition as well as concerns about the depressed economy. Franklin Roosevelt, who urged repeal, was elected president in 1932. The Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution was proposed by Congress in February of 1933, the sole purpose of which was to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment establishing Prohibition.

American men guarding their private beer brewing hide-out, during Prohibition.
Keystone/Getty Images

With passage of the Constitutional Amendment to repeal Prohibition a foregone conclusion, a huge number of businessmen lined up at the Board of Health offices in New York in April of 1933 to apply for liquor licenses to be issued as soon as the repeal was ratified.

The Amendment was ratified by the states by the mechanism of special state ratifying conventions instead of state legislatures. Many states ratified the repeal as soon as conventions could be organized. The ratifications by the required two-thirds of the states was achieved on December 5, 1933, when conventions in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah agreed to repeal Prohibition through the Amendment.

Workmen unloading crates of beer stacked at a New York brewery shortly after the repeal of Prohibition.
Keystone/Getty Images

A brewery warehouse in New York stacked crates past the ceiling to satisfy a thirsty nation after the repeal of Prohibition.

Keystone/Getty Images

Liquor wouldn't officially be legal until December 15th, but Americans celebrated openly anyway, and in most places, law enforcement officials let them.


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