The grand opening of Fort Oglethorpe’s new Bark City Dog Park was truly grand. No one thought so more than the dozens of dogs that came out for it.

From tiny Chihuahuas to a large Newfoundland, dogs raced back and forth over the 1.5-acre fenced park, chased balls and Frisbees and made new friends. Their delight was palpable, as was the delight of the owners.

One woman said she lived within sight of the dog park and would be bringing her dog every day. Many people said they were thrilled to finally have a dog park so close. Some had been taking their dogs to parks in Chattanooga and beyond. Almost all the dog owners we spoke with said they would be coming to the park at least once a week.

On hand for the Oct. 19 event was the originator of the dog park idea, council member Rhonda James, who spent a chunk of her time sitting on a bench toward the back of the small dog area, basking in the enjoyment of the dogs. “I love watching them,” she said.

Also on hand were many members of the dog park committee, city officials and other city luminaries. The event opened with a Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting. Then the fun began.

The dog park is made up of two areas — one for dogs 25 pounds and under and one for larger dogs. Both areas were soon alive with activity. In a world where dogs don’t run free for the most part, local dogs have a chance to vent their energy and work their running muscles.

The dogs on Saturday morning were quick to make friends with fellow-canines and the occasional person, but their focus was clearly on their own breed.

The dog park, said one local resident, will also provide a good place for travelers to give their dogs a chance to run after being cooped up in vehicles for many miles.

As with any good festivity, there were refreshments on hand — water, donuts, bagels for the people, and doggy biscuits for the pooches.

Petsense of Fort Oglethorpe was giving away free flea treatment medicine, and Veterinary Care and Specialty Group of St. Elmo was giving away dog food scoops and treats.

Bark City has water stations for the dogs (you must bring your own bowl) and provides small bags for cleaning up after Rover. There are benches inside the run areas for people and obstacles to help dogs learn skills or show off the ones they already have. Painted fire hydrants decorate the park throughout.

Along the outside of the fenced runs are commemorative bricks and pavers that people can buy and have engraved to help the dog park and in honor of dogs they’ve loved.

City Manager Jennifer Simpkins says this is just stage one of the dog park. “We plan to add more amenities and we hope to add a mural to the back of a city building next to the park.”

Simpkins says she was thrilled with the grand opening. “So many people worked together to make it happen and now it’s a reality.”

Tamara Wolk is a reporter for The Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.

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