By Tim Lemke
It’s a sunny Tuesday morning, and it’s wrestling time at Columbia DogPark.
Jacob Marley, a 15-month-old Treeing Walker Coonhound, is battling playfully with Halley, a 2-year-old foxhound mix. They’re not alone. Finnick, a year-old border collie, is getting in on the action and holding his own.
Meanwhile, Tycho, an 18-month-old golden doodle, is deeply engaged with a tennis ball.
On this day, there are about a dozen dogs of various sizes and breeds roaming free and happy while their owners sip coffee and enjoy some light conversation.
“Everyone comes here at the same time, so it’s like ‘Cheers,’” says Columbia resident Richard Parenti, Jacob Marley’s owner. “If someone doesn’t show up, we wonder what happened.”
Indeed, Columbia DogPark is a regular stop for canines and their owners, who enjoy the 2.7 acres of fenced-in open space nestled on Rivendell Lane near Cedar Lane Park, not far from the Harper’s Choice Village Center.
The dog park opened in 2014 and features two acres for larger dogs and a separate 0.7 acres for dogs weighing less than 25 pounds. The park has dedicated parking and features bridges, seesaws and other obstacles for dogs to enjoy. There are ground-level drinking fountains for dogs during the warmer months, and most importantly, there’s plenty of space to run around.
Melissa Schaab says she brings Halley to the park even though her own backyard is fenced in.
“She’s bored at home,” Schaab says. “She loves to socialize. She’s young, so she likes to wrestle and play with the other dogs.”
Parenti has been bringing Jacob Marley since last year after a foot injury made it difficult for him to take the dog on regular walks.
For Jacob Marley, the visits to the dog park are a chance to socialize with other dogs and burn off some of his plentiful energy.
“They say a tired dog is a happy dog, and he’s a happy dog,” Parenti said while swinging a long-handled ball tosser.
Brian Bauer, the owner of Tycho, lives within walking distance to the dog park and comes several times each week.
“We bring him here to blow off a lot of energy,” Bauer says. “He’s comfortable, he gets to play, he gets to run, and he gets to visit with the other dogs.”
Residents of CA-assessed property pay $5 for a daily visit or just $35 for an annual membership. Nonresidents pay $10 for a daily visit or $70 for an annual membership. All dog visitors must have dog tags and proof of a rabies vaccination.
The dog park is filled with activity on weekends and, during the week, on early mornings and late afternoons. The hours depend on the time of year. This August, it is open 6:30am-8pm. Next month, the hours are 6:30am-7pm, with the times continuing to shift as the length of the day changes. The park is closed on Thursday mornings for maintenance.
(It’s suggested that first-time visitors come closer to midday during the week, when it is not quite as busy.)
Columbia DogPark also is home to the beloved Dog Day Afternoon event, scheduled this year for Saturday, October 13 from 10am to 2pm. The event is open to all dogs and their owners and will feature plenty of treats and activities, as well as local businesses and organizations focused on keeping dogs happy and healthy.
Columbia Dog Park is located at 5901 Rivendell Lane, Columbia. For more information on hours and policies, visit ColumbiaAssociation.org/dogpark.