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I'll meet you in the dog park

Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will celebrate the 10th anniversary of their community dog park in September.  

In 2006 Central turned nearly an acre of its grounds into an off-leash community dog park. There are a number of dog parks around Dallas today, but ten years ago, not so many. Even the White Rock Lake Dog Park did not open until 2001.  Like the church itself, Central’s dog park quickly became a sanctuary in the city where all are welcome. 

Voted “Best in Dallas” by the Dallas Observer in 2012, Central’s dog park remains natural and unpretentious.  However, electric fans and misters do enhance the ability of huge Live Oaks and Cedar Elms to keep everyone cool in the summer.  Scattered lawn chairs provide plenty of seating so that dog owners can relax with a cup of coffee or a good book— or visit with other dog owners.  Mostly, time in the dog park is a bonding experience between owner and dog.  The dogs have the opportunity to explore, sniff and do what dogs do— knowing their master is close by. 

The peaceful setting at Central dog park includes a statue of St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) who was believed to communicate with animals and felt at one with all creation. 

Central member Barbara Jean Austin was instrumental in establishing the park after noticing neighbors walking their dog on the church grounds under the shade of the trees. 

“From that observation evolved the idea to fence in the space and make it a dog park,” Austin said. 

She began to research the rules necessary to operate a dog park.  A fence was built and water lines installed. 

Austin fondly remembers a dog named Biscuit that would run away from its neighboring home to return to the park for more play time. Biscuit would stand at the fence until another visitor opened the gate so he could enter. 

Another animal-loving member of Central’s congregation is Sherrie Narusis.  Narusis made the first contribution to the park in memory of her beloved dog, Hillary.  

Many visitors to the dog park recall the early years when Todd Boddy was Associate Pastor at Central.  He often held services in the park. Boddy wanted the park to be a place where people could come together and share their love of dogs and of each other. 

“We’ve been coming here for years. This is the only place we go,” park visitor Kym Donachie said.  “You meet a lot of nice people in this park.” 

Although the park remains much as it was ten years ago, improvements have been made. 

Today there is a separate fenced area just for small dogs (under 30 pounds) so that they can run and play with dogs their size. 

If your dog plays too hard and needs a bath, there is a dog-wash station— an Eagle Scout project. 

Just this summer, a pet waste-management company was hired to empty containers and supply new waste bags— a service previously provided by the dog park visitors.  

Colorful new cushions adorn many of the chairs and more enhancements are in the developmental stage to make the park even more inviting. 

To celebrate the ten wonderful years that Central’s DogPark has shared with the community, Central Elder Tyson Woods will conduct a short service of thanksgiving in the dog park on Sunday, September 4 at 10 a.m. At noon dog park deacon Tom Irwin will grill hot dogs in the area adjacent to the park. All are welcome!

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