Off-Leash Dog Park Pleases People and Pooches

This is dog nirvana—otherwise known as Fort Steilacoom Off-Leash Dog Park. Multi-height water bowls, wide-open spaces, and plenty of shade for belly rubs are a few of the reasons this place won Best Dog Park in Western Washington in Evening’s yearly viewers poll.

“They can run and play and do what they want to do. If you watch people coming up to the gate, you can see the anticipation in the dogs—oh my gosh—they just go out of their head!” said Chris Guppy, president of Protect Our Pets, the nonprofit group that raised money to build the 22-acre park.

“It’s just nice and big and open. Lots of friendly dogs come out here, with plenty of water spots for them to play around in,” said Ona Moody, who enjoys the park with his dogs, Titan and ’Tella (short for Nutella).

Guppy monitors this pet playground with help from his dog, Crackerjack. But all the dogs here love him. It’s one of the perks of this volunteer job.

“Well, you gotta be a dog person, I guess!” This also has its hazards, he said: “I’ve been knocked down six times in 12 years, last time by a 160-pound Great Dane, who hit me in the back. I didn’t see it coming. He didn’t mean to do it.”

According to Guppy, the most important rules here are (1) no aggressive dogs, and (2) pick up after your pooch. If you don’t, he says, he ends up with the dirty job. Also, it’s nice if you can BYOB—bring your own bag.

As all shapes and sizes of dogs play together at the Fort Steilacoom Dog Park, you’ll notice something else about this place: The people love it as much as their pets. “It’s a good social hour,” said Lani Neil, tossing tennis balls for all.

“This is a community thing. This is a people park as well as a dog park,” said Guppy.

Adapted from a story provided by King 5 News.