Berkus joins team for fantasy dog parks
This June 15, 2011 photo released by Beneful shows Grand Prize Winner of the 2010 Beneful Dream Dog Park Contest, Pat McNeely and Koda, at the unveiling of their Dream Dog Park in Johns Creek, Ga . The dog park offers water splash pads, a 3-D dog bone bridge and crawl tunnels. (AP Photo/Beneful)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Interior designer Nate Berkus has been adding fantasy to homes for 16 years, inspiring people with just the right creative touch. But he's been a dog-lover even longer, and he's turning his design expertise to a half-million-dollar fantasy dog park.
Berkus, 41, has joined the creative team for the 2014 Beneful Dream Dog Park Contest. Contestants have to answer one question: "If you had $500,000 to create a Dream Dog Park where you and your best buddy can play together, what would you do?"
In Lancaster, Pa., the answer included a doggy amusement park with a tennis ball tree and a 40-foot roller coaster bridge. The park there — the third contest winner — opens Aug. 6.
The first park was built in Johns Creek, Ga., with a family destination theme and includes a bone-shaped bridge, two splash pads, tunnels, rubberized mulch paths and shade trees. The second park in Alabaster, Ala., has synthetic turf, agility rings, a walking trail, a fetch football field, fire hydrant goalposts and a mulch adventure path with tunnels, said Brent Gleckler, brand director for Beneful dog food.
This July 12, 2012 photo released by Beneful shows a dog in the custom-designed splash pads in a $500,000 Beneful Dream Dog Park renovation that was unveiled last summer in Alabaster, Ala. The dog park, with a fetch football field, an exercise path and tunnels, is part the city's flagship Veteran's Park, with a ball field complex, 2.5-mile walking trail, eight pavilions with picnic tables, two playgrounds, a skateboard park and veteran's memorial. (AP Photo/Beneful)
"There is nothing I love more than being with my dog," Berkus said of sidekick Tucker, a black mutt. Together, they visit a dog park nearly every night.
The parks in Alabaster and Johns Creek have been tourist magnets. In Georgia, the city had to make 72 new parking spaces next to the park to accommodate visitors.
In Alabama, people take good care of the park, but the city does a walkthrough once a day, sprays it down twice a week and uses a biodegradable chemical once a month, city parks director Tim Hamm said.
The dog park is part the city's flagship Veteran's Park, with a ball field complex, 2.5-mile walking trail, eight pavilions with picnic tables, two playgrounds, a skateboard park and veteran's memorial, Hamm said.
Every day, they get calls from tourists asking about hours and directions.
"The more people that come to our city, the more people will stop, eat and buy gas. We are all for that. Out-of-town users are great," Hamm said. "Anybody who wants to come, we more than welcome them in town."