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Dog enthusiasts unleash support for off-leash dog park in Kirkland during film shoot

Holding up signs like "Happy trails, happy tails," "Unleash the fun," and "Kirkland dogs just want 2 have fun," a crowd of nearly 100 dog owners unleashed their enthusiasm and support for an off-leash dog park in Kirkland during a rally at Marina Park on Saturday.

The event was part of a videotaping of local dog park supporters to help the City of Kirkland win $100,000 for the park as part of a national dog park contest.

KDOG (the Kirkland Off-Leash Dog Group) nominated the city for PetSafe's Bark for Your Park contest in May for a chance to win $100,000 to build an off-leash dog park. Kirkland was recently selected as a semi-finalist and participants were asked to create a short video highlighting Kirkland's support for the new dog park.

KDOG members and other dog enthusiasts assisted city staff with shooting a video scene during The Woodmark Hotel's Yappier Hour on Wednesday and worked on the video's final scene at Marina Park on Saturday.

During the event, the crowd, along with many pooches, howled their support for the long-awaited dog park as they waved signs and cheered.

"My gosh, I cannot tell you how much I want a dog park in Kirkland - this dog loves to run," said Kirkland resident, Tricia Stromberg, of her 2-year-old airedale terrier, Cassi. Stromberg said she often drives to Edmonds - nearly 50 miles round trip - which has a fenced dog park where her young pooch can romp.

Julie Metteer was at the event with her two young canines, Maya and Daisy. "There's a big need for a dog park here," said Metteer, who lives next to the site the city approved last year for the dog park in the Totem Lake neighborhood. "It's such a huge dog community and we're the only city (on the Eastside) that doesn't have a designated dog park. So it makes sense."

Megen Opsahl agreed.

When she first moved to Kirkland six years ago, "it was amazing to come downtown and see so many people with their dogs," said Opsahl, who is a KDOG member. "It's such a dog-friendly town."

She also commented on the social impacts an off-leash dog park would have for local dog owners and their pets.

"If you have a very friendly social dog that does well off-leash, it's a really great exercise for them to run and play hard as opposed to a leashed walk," said Opsahl, who has fostered more than 30 dogs in the past three years as a volunteer for Northwest Airedale Terrier Rescue. She also has two airedales of her own - Hamilton and Lady. "And (dog owners) can also stand around and talk about our dogs and things about dogs while our dogs run and play. It's just a really nice social outlet for dogs and humans."

Councilman Bob Sternoff said residents have waited a long time to get a dog park established in Kirkland. He was part of the original group of citizens that requested a dog park more than 11 years ago.

"I've wanted a dog park for probably 14, 15 years," said Sternoff, noting that many years ago residents "realized that getting together at 5 on a week night with your dog and with other people who shared the same love of animals just didn't have a place to go that was legal."

Sternoff often has to find local open spaces to let his three dogs run. He brought his hounds to the event Saturday, including his australian shepherd, Lincoln, doberman Charlie and dachshund Jake.

But even some people who live outside of Kirkland want a dog park here.

It's all about having more choices, says Kefei Lu, who lives in Redmond and attended the event with wife, Jing Liu, and their 6-month-old golden retriever, Max.

"We always want to find more places where we can bring our dog and let him run around," said Lu. "We want to have more choices and more opportunities."

And for a dog owner like Lu, who is dealing with the daily demands of a puppy, the more places for his dog to run around, the better.

"He has a lot of energy. We want to get him to play with other dogs and burn off his energy, so he will torture us less," he laughed.

The council authorized KDOG to build a public dog park on city property near the intersection of 113th Avenue N.E. and N.E. 120th St. last November. KDOG agreed to fund all direct costs associated with both the development and annual operating costs of the facility on city-owned land. No city funds will be used for the project.

While the group has a designated park site, park plan, budget, and park education committee in place, the organization needs help to build and operate the park. The $100,000 would significantly help with those expenses, KDOG members said.

The next step in the contest for the city and KDOG will be submitting the video, which will be reviewed by judges who will gauge community enthusiasm, availability of land and overall impact to the city.

Based on that criteria, PetSafe will select 15 finalist cities on July 13. Once the finalist cities have been selected, there will be three weeks of public voting through Aug. 3. Popular vote will decide the winner.

For more information, visit www.kdog.org or www.barkforyourpark.com.

 

 

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