SUNDogs of Pierce County unveiled its latest achievement last weekend to the howls of its users. The non-profit organization opened a half-acre, off-leash park at Chambers Creek Regional Park that would specifically cater to the lower-energy desires of elderly, shy or small dogs.
The new park shares a fence line with the existing two-acre dog facility in the Central Meadow section of the regional park. It comes after fundraising efforts raised the $14,000 needed to construct the fence to accommodate the lot designated for lower-key canines.
“It could still be an active dog, but it should be small,” said SUNDogs organizer Kathy Makenas. “But there really isn’t a rule of thumb for what is small.”
The idea behind the second off-leash area was so all the older, smaller or more shy dogs could enjoy walks and runs without the possible injuries or tension brought by larger, more outgoing pooches. There aren’t, however, any weight or height limits or temperament rules regarding which dog should use which park.
“It is kind of up to the individual person as to where the dog belongs,” she said.
The fences are removable for larger events, such as the U.S. Open in 2015 or if a different site on the regional park is ever determined.
“This is the best place for right now,” she said, noting that Pierce County is in the process of updating the 900-acre park’s Master Plan, which has included talk of moving the off-leash areas to the southern-most tip of the property. Any move to there would be years away, so the SUNDogs is already working on ways to improve the off-leash area at its current location.
The next possible improvement involves the installation of benches in the park and the laying of a water line from the nearby bathrooms to a water fountain at the off-leash area to provide a more convenient way to fill dog bowls. Users of the park currently shuttle milk jugs back and forth.
“That would be something nice to have so we don’t have to have the water brigade,” Makenas said.
The addition of a water line and faucet will cost about $6,000, so SUNDogs is filing for a grant to fund the project. News on the grant could come as early as this summer, organizer Debbie Klosowski said, noting that the grant process is competitive.
“We thought we might as well give it a try,” she said.