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Unleashed, No Longer a Puppy Thunderdome

With the cash-strapped city of Dallas ready to shell out more than $750,000 to build a new dog park and spruce up an old one, there's also news concerning changes at the city's privately owned indoor dog park. At Unleashed Indoor Dog Park, size no longer matters: Instead of dividing up dogs by weight, the NPR-profiled doggie dome will now assign beasts to sections of its indoor play area dubbed "Powderpuff" or "Bodyslammers," according to the dog's temperament. Co-owner Kelly Acree says the new guidelines will avoid tensions among small-dog owners eager to watch Fifi hold her own in the big dog park and big-dog owners who are scared that Rocky the Rottweiler will, you know, accidentally flatten a small dog underfoot during a heated game of chase.

"The big dog owners are concerned that they can't really let their dogs run free without trampling a little dog," Acree says of the days when dogs were grouped according to their size. "And the small-dog owners were up in arms because a lot of the small dogs play well with big dogs." It's not uncommon, Acree says, that a high-energy Jack Russell Terrier will do just fine with a pack of Labs; by the same token, plenty of medium-sized dogs or even older large dogs are laid-back enough for the small dog park -- hence, the new divisions.

Acree says the decision of where to play will still be up to dog owners -- but Unleashed reserves the right to have the final say on where a dog should play.

"We're going to give you some leeway," Acree tells Unfair Park. "However, if we feel that the play environment has changed, we're going to ask you to play in whichever park we feel is safest for your dog. That's really the bottom line: We want to make sure everybody is safe and happy."

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