BarkPark, Philadelphia’s first indoor dog park and canine community center, will come to West Philly at 48th and Woodland Avenue in spring 2018. Founders Katherine Wade and Jameson Gitto recently signed the lease for the facility, which will undergo renovation to create a 1,200 square foot playspace, as well as a grooming service and dog daycare.
With the location announcement comes many new ideas, as well as some changes to their initial vision for the park (you can read our BarkPark coverage in an article from last year). But Wade and Gitto said that BarkPark’s purpose remains the same as they hope to provide resources that will improve the lives of Philly dogs and their owners.
At the core of BarkPark’s model is the indoor dog park, a safe and secure, weather-controlled canine play space. Like most traditional dog parks, BarkPark’s will be sectioned for small and large dogs but can be customized to fit the needs of the dogs on any given day—if there many small dogs, the barriers of the park can be moved to give them more room. But unlike other parks, owners will know whether their dogs are truly safe: to visit the park, all dogs must have proof of vaccination and pass BarkPark’s behavioral test.
BarkPark employees, trained to recognize the telltale signs of an impending dog fight and equipped with the tools to safely break one up, will be there to monitor both the indoor and outdoor dog parks. One of the most exciting features of the new location, Wade said, are the outdoor yards where both daycare dogs and “drop-in” dog park dogs will have separate spaces for play. With indoor and outdoor space, owners can enjoy a nice spring day outdoors for some fresh air or spend a rainy summer evening indoors for some good, clean fun. Owners will also find some unusual perks at Wade and Gitto’s park, like high speed internet access and unlimited coffee.
“One of the best parts about this venture is getting to go to work with our dogs. Our coworking resources offer that same opportunity to other owners, too,” Gitto said.
With a standard come-and-go day pass to BarkPark, owners can visit the park with one dog all day and enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi for $10. This is the standard dog park experience. But the “Pup-Fessional” coworking day pass gives owners those same amenities with perks to from unlimited coffee to free printing for $20. Stay-at-home dog parents interested in making BarkPark their unofficial office can purchase a monthly package at the standard or coworking rate—a list of full pricing for day passes, monthly packages, and information on amenities is available on the BarkPark website.
For owners with more conventional workweeks, BarkPark’s daycare service will open earlier and close later than any other daycare in the city—owners can drop off their pets as early as 6:30 a.m. and pick them up as late as 9 p.m. It will also service West Philly dog owners with dog walks by The Dog Enthusiast, a dog walking and pet sitting business that began in South Philly. The Dog Enthusiast will provide its services out of BarkPark and utilize the facility as its new headquarters. It will also manage BarkPark’s pet groomer.
Wade and Gitto intend to pair with many local pet businesses. ponzmo, a Philadelphia-based dog food startup, will provide its fresh, human-grade dog food as a lunch option for daycare dogs. The “farm to dog bowl” cuisine, which is usually delivered, will be available at BarkPark for takeout, too. With dog walks, grooming, and even food covered, West Philly dog training business WP Creative Pets will work with BarkPark to provide training. Gitto said they intend to see their facility utilized as more than just a place to teach pets to roll over—it’ll provide a valuable space for dogs to receive valuable socialization for city-living experiences.
“How can your dog learn to chill at a movie on the lawn at Clark Park if they’ve never been in that environment before?” Gitto posited. “We want to provide owners with the chance to get out with their dog, even if he’s not the sort of dog who wants to play hard with other dogs at the park. We hope to break up the space at BarkPark for live music and other community events like that, where owners can spend time with their dogs and other owners.”
Gitto said he wants BarkPark to be a good neighbor, be it through offering employees a fair wage or giving unique opportunities to local foster dogs. True to the original plan, he said that foster dogs will get to play at the park for free.
Wade and Gitto, Temple University graduates who live and work in Philly, decided on the West Philly space after the South Philly site they’d been pulling for fell through. BarkPark will be close to a few other key landmarks for West Philly dog owners, including Baltimore Pet Shoppe and Clark Park, the neighborhood’s unofficial dog park. But Clark Park’s “dog bowl” sits unfenced near several busy streets. Over the next few months, the former church at 4809 Woodland Ave. will turn into what they both hope will be a safer option for play in West Philly and a valuable resource for dog owners across the city.
Interested in playing at Philly’s first indoor dog park? BarkPark will host free preliminary dog behavioral tests on alternating Saturdays throughout March.