I want to say right off the bat (get it … Louisville Slugger) that we will come back to Louisville. Due to some work/travel scheduling issues, we did not get to see nearly as much as we’d hoped. Based on what we did see, and from talking with the people we met, we got the feeling that Louisville is vibrant “small, big town” or “big, small town” – that also happens to be wonderfully pet friendly.
Located on the Ohio River, the settlement that became Louisville was founded in 1778 and is named after France’s King Louis XVI. While it is probably best known for the running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, Louisville also hosts the largest annual Beatles Festival in the world, Abbey Road on the River, over Memorial Day weekend. The city has 122 city parks covering 14,000+ acres. Several of the parks were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of NYC’s Central Park.
We first ventured into the Highlands neighborhood to exercise Ty and Buster at the Patterson Dog Park on Morton Street. The park was shady, fenced in, and had run areas for small and large dogs. The dog owners were friendly, and we talked with them at length about why they believed Louisville was a pet friendly city. The city parks and the outdoor doggie dining options seemed to top the list of reasons.
After working off some energy we, walked over to Molly Malones, an Irish Pub on Baxter Avenue. We had lunch with Julie Bush of Tails Pet Magazine (LouisvilleTails will launch in June) and a surprise guest that I will talk about in tomorrow’s post. It felt good to be warmed by the sun on the outdoor patio. The staff was friendly and provided Ty and Buster with separate water bowls. Best of all, our boys were well-behaved, even with other dogs dining nearby. We then hopped across the street to dog friendly Quills Coffee for a caffeine injection.
The next morning, we came back to see one of the dog parks we heard so much about. Cochran Hill Dog Run at Cherokee Park (designed by the aforementioned Olmstead). The dog park is divided in half – one side for all dog use and one side for small dog use. At 2 acres the park was spacious, but there was little grass or shade. Still, it was a great dog run ensconced in a setting of old woods and rolling hills.
Cochran Hill is one of five of Louisville’s permit-only dog parks – Champions, Old Louisville (under construction), Sawyer, and Vettiner Dog Runs are the others. The cost of a 2010 dog park permit is $30.00 for the 1st dog, $20.00 for the 2nd dog, $10.00 for the 3rd dog and $5.00 per additional dog in the same household. All funds from the sale of the permits go towards the dog park’s maintenance and improvement costs. Non-resident dogs can contact the park in advance to obtain access. See “Invitation to Comment” below. Interestingly, DogJaunt wrote just last week about a similar permit-only dog park system in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
We stayed in Louisville for three nights. The first two were in the Lousiville Metro KOA in Clarksville, IN (just on the other side of the Ohio River). Amy described it best – it was a parking lot with utility hookups. Why didn’t we move? Too lazy, I guess, and we needed to catch up on our work. I doubt we will ever stay there again. The only redeeming feature was a nearby dog friendly park where we could exercise Ty and Buster.
We spent our third night at the Louisville South KOA in Shepherdsville (making Buster, our German Shepherd, feel at home. This rural park had a great nature trail that led you out of the park through the woods and down to the Salt River. The park also had a cute fenced-in area with play equipment that was perfect for small dogs. Added benefit: Shepherdsville is home to a Zappos fulfillment facility and … wait for it … an outlet store. Who knew Zappos had an outlet?! Attracted like moths to a flame – we came, we saw, we purchased. Score: 6 pairs of shoes (Rod, 2 – Amy, 4) for less than $200. Not a misprint.
We love big cities that have distinct districts. And like many older American cities, Louisville has its well-defined neighborhoods, many with well over a century of their own history. The next time we’re in town, we want to do a walking tour of the Downtown and Portland riverside areas. If we stay an extra day or two, we were told that peripheral neighborhoods like Butchertown, Phoenix Hill, Shelby Park, Smoketown, and Old Louisville are a must-see.
I am interested in your take on permit-only dog parks. Paraphrasing DogJaunt, I understand that park creators want their park to be used by healthy dogs with owners who have an investment in keeping the park clean and well-maintained, but it puts out-of-town dogs in a bind. On one hand, who plans that far in advance? On the other hand, there were other no-permit-required dog parks nearby. Thoughts?
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