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A dog-sniff-dog world
Off-leash park in Yuba City opens to howling good time
Nose to nose and tail to wagging tail, the dogs of Yuba-Sutter welcomed one another to the grand opening of Off the Leash dog park Thursday.
Also known as the Robert G. Sims Canine Recreation Area, the park has been a "labor of love" 41⁄2 years in the making, said Steve Shoup, president of Off the Leash. About 50 supporters and 20 of their four-legged-friends celebrated the long-awaited opening with bone-shaped cookies, dog biscuits and lots of chatter.
"We fought through a lot of tears," said member Gordon Tom. "It's been a real project, a hard fight."
The first challenge was finding a location, which was eventually bestowed to the group by Caltrans. Then Off the Leash struggled to raise money through dog-a-thons, "paws-ta" feeds and other fundraisers to fence in the 5-acre parcel on Wild River Drive.
The last hurdles were getting support from the Sutter County Board of Supervisors and the finishing maintenance touches to clear the land for the opening.
Some days, it seemed like the park would never come to fruition, Tom said. But supporters and dog lovers kept plugging along until the dream became reality.
"You can tell all these dogs are here because their people care for them," said secretary Sandy Rothe. "It warms my heart."
Sims died in June 2007, but his memory lives on in the park, she said.
The four-legged friends ran, chased, rolled and panted as they enjoyed their freedom, pausing occasionally to sniff every tree, rock and dog butt within reach.
"Every once in a while they bark and snip at each other, but they work it out, just like people," said site director Chris Parent.
Zephyr, a Great Dane-Labrador mix, slobbered happily on every dog and human in sight. His owners, Anthony and Colleen Dent of Olivehurst anticipate making daily trips to Off the Leash to wear out their 100-pound pet.
"When you come home after a long day, it's hard to be met with a bundle of energy," Anthony Dent said, as Zephyr rolled in the dirt.
The Dents and their dog might often run into Sue Shaffer, who also plans to bring Tesia, her 8-year-old German shepherd, every day. They've already made several trips to the park since it unofficially opened this spring.
"When she hits Wild River Drive, she knows where she is and she wants out," Shaffer said, laughing. "People talk, dogs talk, it's really great socializing for everybody."
After moving to Yuba City from Michigan a year ago, Marianna McCoy could not wait for the park to open.
"Being newcomers, as we are, it's nice to find people with a common interest," she said.
Her dogs, Chelsea, a golden retriever, and Abby, a chocolate lab, are already having fun, she said.
"It gives us another place to take the girls and let them run," she said. "It gives the dogs flexibility to be on their own and that's what a dog needs. They can exercise to their heart's content."
Off the Leash is open but the work is not done, Parent said. Its creators envision continuing improvements, such as a water play area, fountains and section just for small dogs.
The park is open from dawn to dusk every day and maintained by members.
Anyone who wants to join or donate can call 635-1287 or visit www.yubacitydogpark.com.
You can support the park
• WHAT: Bark-B-Q fundraiser for Off the Leash dog park
• WHEN: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m Saturday
• WHERE: Gauche Aquatic Park
• COST: $5 hamburgers and hot dogs with potato salad and chips, $1 drinks, $2 beers
Contact Appeal-Democrat reporter Ashley Gebb at 749-4724 or email@example.com.