- Associated Press - Monday, May 15, 2017

FORT GRATIOT, Mich. (AP) - It was wet and cold, but that didn’t stop a pack of dogs from having a tail-wagging, rear-sniffing and puddle-splashing good time Saturday at the Fort Gratiot Canine Commons dog park.

The dogs - and their people - were celebrating both the grand opening of the park and National Dog Park Day.

Canine Commons has been open since October, said Jorja Baldwin, Fort Gratiot Township supervisor. It encompasses just about 2 acres and has separate areas where big dogs can run with big dogs and little dogs can run with little dogs.

“This is the only park in the township we don’t close even in the winter,” she said. “The reaction has been tremendous, very positive. I don’t think it ever stops being used.”

Bill Shanahan, a member of the board of directors of the Friends of Fort Gratiot Dog Park, said the canine romper room gets lots of use.

“On a nice day, it’s easy to count 20-plus dogs on the large dog side and 10 to 15 on the small dog side,” he said. “It’s still grabbing hold in the public.”

The Times Herald (https://bwne.ws/2q3Tj4G ) reports that building the park cost just shy of $100,000, Baldwin said. The township received $7,500 from the St. Clair County Parks and Recreation Department and won $25,000 in a contest sponsored by PetSafe Brand of Knoxville, Tennessee.

“It says a lot that the community rallied to this project so much that they beat out several other communities for this $25,000 prize,” said Justin Young, a marketing specialist for PetSafe Brand who organizes the Bark for Your Park grant program.

PetSafe manufactures wireless pet containment systems, but it’s not in the dog park business, Young said.

“It’s a need we saw in our community and we wanted to help people in other communities,” he said.

Cassandra Brown was at Saturday’s celebration with Mollie, a mixed-breed with dollops of Labrador, border collie, setter and golden retriever swirling in her background. They’re from Capac.

“I like the park,” Brown said. “About once a week or so, we make the trip out here.”

“We don’t have a fenced-in backyard, and here she can just go.”

Emily O’Connor came from Lexington with her mixed-breed dog, Harley.

“He loves the other dogs, and he loves to run,” she said. “I think it’s great. We didn’t have anything like this before.

“It’s a great place to let the dogs out to interact with other dogs and other people.”

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Information from: Times Herald, https://www.thetimesherald.com

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