Two-year-old Dakota had a great time at the park recently, especially when he found a mud hole and rolled around in it.
Dakota, a springer spaniel, comes to the Patricia Simonet Laughing Dog Park, at Interstate 90 near the Idaho state line, with his owner Graham Crosby. It’s not unusual for the two to visit once a week. Crosby will throw balls for Dakota to retrieve and he can meet other dogs.
“He loves it,” Crosby said.
The off-leash dog park was the first of its kind in the area and has been open for five years. The park was opened in a collaborative effort between the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service and Spokane County Parks, Recreation and Golf.
“Doug and I really wanted to open an off-leash park,” said SCRAPS Director Nancy Hill, referring to Spokane County Parks, Recreation and Golf Director Doug Chase. The fenced 3 ½-acre park used to be a grassy area for a rest stop along Interstate 90.
Chase said the park is unique in the park system, since dog-owners like to take their dogs to a park year-round, rather than just when the weather is nice.
“We have an unbelievable demand during the off season,” Chase said.
The park features an open area to play fetch, dog-watering stations, a wooded area with a winding trail that encircles the park and a bag recycling bin where dog owners can leave extra plastic grocery bags for others to use to pick up after their dogs.
Dogs get excited to come to the park. As Dakota was rolling in the mud, one owner drove into the park while her dog peeked through the car’s sunroof.
Hill said that not only do the dogs get the freedom to run off-leash at the park they get in some much needed social time with other dogs.
“A socialized dog is a better behaved dog,” Hill said.
Their owners enjoy the company, too. They can socialize with each other as well and brag about their four-legged friends.
“It’s seldom you come here and there is no one here,” Hill said.
Chase and Hill say the park has been a successful endeavor for both agencies. Members of the SCRAPS staff visit regularly to empty the donation bins and garbage cans. Parks department staff members maintain the grass and blow snow off the sidewalk in the winter.
It’s been such a success, Hill has dreams of expanding.
“Our goal is to have dog parks located in the four compass points of the county,” Hill said.