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Dog park cleanup tackles weeds, burs

Fri., Feb. 4, 2011, 7:27 p.m.

Fencing at Spokane’s new dog park is complete, but patrons have discovered a prickly new problem. Burs.

The burs, which grow on a weed called Houndstongue, get stuck in dogs’ coats and are difficult to remove, sometimes requiring hours of extra grooming.

A group of volunteers gathered at the SpokAnimal’s Dog Park at High Bridge Friday to pull the weeds and clean up some trash left from before the park opened.

“They are just a pest,” Rebecca Mack, development director at SpokAnimal C.A.R.E., said of the burs. “We’re trying to make it a more hospitable environment for their dogs.”

Despite being an annoyance to dogs and their owners, the burs are mostly harmless. No one noticed them until the park opened in January and dogs began getting the pesky burs stuck in their coats after running through the weeds. The burs pose a bigger problem for long-haired dogs.

Johanna Horning participated in the work party. She said her dogs love the park, but she has to brush them thoroughly before they get in the car or they’ll bring the burs home.

Her dog, Scooby, was covered in them from head to tail Friday.

“They’re helping clean up,” Horning joked. “They’re little vacuum cleaners.”

Luckily, Houndstongue is biennial and short-lived, so once removed, it won’t be back for a couple years, Mack said. The bur-bearing weeds are mostly located in the nine-acre large dog area, not in the separate small dog area.

Mack said Friday’s cleanup day was a good time for everyone.

“People are happy to come out and help,” she said. “Dogs are having a good time. People are having a good time. It’s great.”

The work party was originally scheduled for Feb. 19, she said, but they decided to begin tackling the problem earlier by scheduling an additional day. However, the Feb. 19 work party is still on.

“So many people are so interested in this park and waited so long it for it,” she said. “We want them to have a good experience.”

“This is a manageable problem, so let’s manage it.”

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