Coquina Key park lets dogs frolic leash-free
By CHRISTINA JEWETT
© St. Petersburg Times,
"They follow me around like the shadow when I say it," said Scott Houldsworth, owner of Jimbo and Archie. "But they become selectively deaf when we get to the dog park."
"(The opening) is historical in the sense that it provides an opportunity for dog owners to have a place for dogs to run free and not violate any city ordinances," Williams said Tuesday.
During the opening ceremony, Jimbo and Archie had one thing on their minds.
"They were glad to get off their leash," said Houldsworth, 41, who lives about a half-mile from the park. "Jimbo likes to be chased. He'll start something up with another dog and take off -- he'll try to get all the dogs he can chasing him."
While the dogs play, owners can talk. Houldsworth met other dog owners from Tierra Verde to Clearwater, and they all had at least one thing in common.
"We have a lot of information to exchange about dogs and other things," he said. "You start to see the same people."
Houldsworth plans to take Jimbo and Archie every day.
"I take them for walks on the leash, and that's okay," he said. "But it's nice to let them get off and really run. They get a lot more exercise and it's healthier for them -- mentally and physically."
Crescent Lake will be the next neighborhood to get a dog park. The City Council plans to watch those sites before adding more dog parks, Williams said.
Coquina Key Park is at the end of a series of "skate park" signs that start on 39th Avenue S, east of Fourth Street S. The dog park, enclosed by a 6-foot chain link fence, is just behind the tennis courts. There is a faucet and water bowl, disposal bags for feces and a time out area for devious dogs.
Owners are required to clean their dogs' messes and keep a leash in their hands at all times. The park is open from a half-hour after sunrise until a half-hour before sunset.
Houldsworth made a Sunday tradition out of taking his dogs to a dog park in Tampa and is glad to have one near his house. But he'll still go back to his dogs' first dog park to visit people and pets that became familiar over the weeks.
"It gets to be something you look forward to," he said.
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