Dakota (left) and Luna share water at Washington Park’s dog park on June 28 in Winston-Salem.

In Winston-Salem, we’re blessed with some terrific parks and a greenway trail network that make life more pleasing for residents and visitors. When they’re missing, we miss them.

The dog park at Washington Park has now been closed temporarily while steps are taken to prevent runoff from the area from affecting nearby Salem Creek. Construction could last through the end of the year, officials told the Journal’s Wesley Young.

The work will lead to the creation of a shallow vegetated area through which runoff from the dog park will pass, where pollutants will be naturally collected before the water makes its way into the creek.

During the process, dog park fencing will be relocated.

Fortunately, there are other options: Jamison Park on Meadowlark Drive, next to the Muddy Creek Greenway, has a dog park, as does Horizons Park in Germanton.

They’re nice parks, but they may be out of reach for some residents.

The Washington Park dog park opened in 2003 as the result of a group petition and a $17,300 grant from the Winston-Salem Foundation. In subsequent years, community efforts have led to dog parks opening in Kernersville and Clemmons, also.

They’re wonderful resources. Off-leash dogs on their own can get themselves and their owners in trouble. But dog parks allow our furry friends the opportunity to run free and play in the outdoors and become accustomed to the presence of other dogs. They also provide opportunities for dogs to socialize their owners.

Later in the summer, the Salem Creek Greenway that follows the creek through Washington Park will be blocked to accommodate remediation work on about 600 feet of a small tributary stream that has heavily-eroded banks. Some trees will need to be removed, but others will be planted. Stones and other materials to help control erosion will be added.

The initial work, upstream from the greenway, won’t require closing the trail, but later work will.

The ballfields, playground, picnic shelter and parking lot off South Broad Street will remain open.

Think of this as a preview of the updates that are coming to Washington Park thanks to $2.5 million from parks and recreation bonds passed in 2018. Future improvements may include repaving pedestrian paths, renovated picnic shelters, improved lighting and year-round restrooms.

This is a good time to remember that the heat of summer can be overbearing to both dogs and cats. They’re susceptible to heat stroke and hyperthermia, especially those that are older.

Drinking water should always be within easy reach, as well as ample shade — not inside a dog house, but under trees or tarps, where air can flow.

Better yet, inside with air conditioning. Pets should never be left inside a locked car, not even for just a minute. Keep in mind that overheated concrete can be damaging to sensitive paws.

Even without access to a dog park, dogs need their exercise, either in fenced yards or during morning and evening walks with their owners.

Keep them safe and healthy and we’ll all get through this summer heat together.

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