When it comes to dog parks, St. Louis is slowly catching up with the civilized world. At last count, the metro area offered five dog parks, with some five more slated to open in the next year or two. But what we lack in quantity we make up for in quality, thanks to the University City Off-Leash Dog Play Area. In June the U. City dog park was ranked fifth in the nation by Dog Fancy magazine. The 1.25-acre facility boasts fenced-in playpens for large and small dogs, running water to keep those dog bowls filled to the brim and benches where dog owners can shoot the you-know-what while their pets mingle. The park is open to the public daily from 5:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. Memberships -- $20 for the first dog, $2 each additional dog (nonresidents pay $80 and $25) -- include the municipal dog-license fee and can be purchased at city hall on Delmar Boulevard.