Just in time for fall, Fido’s Indoor Dog Park opens in Portland August 28. After seeing it firsthand, calling it a dog park is like calling Disneyland a county fair.
It was when Josephine Cetta’s German Shepherd Ally tore her cruciate ligament in the spring of 2009 that musings of creating an indoor park began. Knowing that swimming is great exercise, especially for dogs with joint injuries, Cetta sought a place to take Ally post surgery. The only options at the time were water-therapy and nearby swimming holes.
Not necessarily seeking therapy, Cetta tried the swimming hole. The only problem was the mud and dirt she picked up; Ally needed a bath after every outing.
The way Cetta saw it, Portland needed an indoor dog pool that was convenient and safe. The idea grew, and somewhere along the journey the idea for a dog pool became the 20,000 square-foot indoor dog park that is Fido’s.
Located south of SE Holgate Blvd off of 26th Ave. in Portland, the former warehouse took awhile to find, especially since Cetta wanted Fido’s to have both air conditioning and an insulated ceiling. Even without the AC, the large, hangar-like room was comfortable even on a sweltering Friday in August.
The philosophy Cetta used when converting the warehouse is apparent in the smallest details. Near the front desk is a retail space stocked with balls, tugs, and other toys made strictly from recycled or reused material. It’s the same throughout the park. Traditional vanity fixtures in all the bathrooms have been replaced with LEDs. On the walls? Cetta made sure they used zero VOC paint.
While Cetta’s steps in keeping the renovation uber eco-friendly are impressive, the real Wow comes when entering the dog park itself. Once you make your way to the synthetic grass, the building opens up to a park-like setting. There are hints of trees, seating under an arbor, and hanging plants under the windows.
Off to one side is a cafe area where people can enjoy a beverage, watch their dogs, and even “surf” thanks to plenty of outlets. An open-top, two-story structure in the middle allows puppy parents a 360-degree balcony view. Stairs connecting the park and terrace allow pups an easy climb if they choose to join their humans.
The park itself looks like outside, inside, and for northwest dogs it looks like winter days full of dry delight. “The whole thing is about having people come here with their dogs and having a good time,” says Cetta.
For guardians who like to mix business with fun, there are private rooms for downttime or business meetings. The facility also provides two self-wash stations and a grooming table.
But back to the fun to be had, which takes us to the indoor pool that was what started this all to begin with. It’s above ground, made from heavy-duty vinyl fabric, and has a ramp leading to the deck. Like any community pool, there are lockers, and even life vests in various sizes.
A second ramp leads away from the pool deck to a large drying area. Thanks to the pool being 98% chemical free, people aren’t trading in their mud-scented pups for chlorine-scented ones. “When your dog gets out it doesn’t need a bath, it doesn’t smell, and there’s no sand on it,” Cetta explains with pride.
She has more than just the park and pool to be proud of. Dreading the thought of members having to wait in line to sign in, and concerned about staff keeping track of facility usage, Cetta came upon the perfect technological solution. When members sign up (for pool use, park use, or both) they get a quarter-sized fob that attaches easily to a dog collar or key ring. When it’s park or pool time, guardians simply walk to the door, wait for the latch to trigger, and it’s play time.
Like other indoor parks, Fido’s provides doggy daycare and boarding. Pet parents can check up on their pups while away thanks to webcam feeds available with boarding.
After August 28, Fido’s will be open 7-9 daily. Learn more at www.fidosindoordogpark.com.
Jake Faris is a freelance writer who's worn many different hats, including a hardhat and the 8-point hat of a police officer. Jake and his wife Charity live with their three cats and four dogs in Beaverton. The whole pack moved to Portland from Wenatchee, Washington, years ago. Now a dedicated Oregonian, Jake finds new reasons to love his adopted state very day. Contact him here.