Dogs, dogs, dogs everywhere! Chattapoochee Dog Park regulars and first-timers turned out with their owners for the grand opening of Duluth’s first dog park Saturday.
“It’s [going to be] a day filled with fun activities,” said Duluth Parks and Recreation Department Director Kathy Marelle in welcoming everyone to the April 28 ribbon-cutting ceremony for the three-acre park at Rogers Bridge Park. “It’s all for the dogs!”
Marelle thanked citizens for voting for the SPLOST, which made the park possible. Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds were used to build it. Wanda Bennewitz, chairman of the Duluth Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, and Judy Wilson, president of the Duluth Historical Society, also participated in the special day.
The DHS co-sponsored the grand opening activities with the city, which included a mini petfest featuring vendors of pet supplies and services and a free Kids Zone.
Mayor Nancy Harris presented a dog bone "gavel" to Shiner, who was chosen Duluth’s Top Dog and mayor of the dog park, and administered the oath of office to him. Shiner stamped the oath with his paw print.
Friends of his owner David Gentry waved signs supporting Shiner and cheered when he was tapped for the honor out of four finalists. Shiner was recognized for his “innate ability to attract crowds” among other special leadership qualities listed on his Top Dog application. There were 30 candidates in the contest.
Shiner was awarded a basket filled with dog treats and toys donated by the vendors.
Shiner is a regular at the dog park, which opened in early January, closed in late February for sod repair, installation of dog agility equipment and addition of park benches, and reopened April 1.
Attendees included Duluth City Council members who brought their dogs to the park.
After the ceremony, dogs and their owners entered either the one-acre fenced area for small dogs (under 30 pounds) or two-acre fenced area for large dogs (over 30 pounds). Owners walked their dogs on leashes or let them go to run, play and chase each other. Then they cooled off in the interactive “Dogs Only” fountains. They fetched tennis balls and caught Frisbees tossed by their owners. The toys were provided to grand opening participants by Petsmart.
Complimentary Chattapoochee Dog Park T-shirts were given out by the city to owners who signed a “duty free” pledge promising to clean up after their pets in the park.
Chattapoochee Dog Park is located near the Chattahoocee River.