It's hard to tell who likes Traverse City's new dog park more — the dogs or their owners.
Either way, the dog-friendly park is off to a good start and has so far justified the city's decision to listen to dog owners who begged for a place to let their pets off the leash in a town where the opportunities for dogs to be dogs are pretty limited.
Dog park supporters had pushed the city for years to set aside a chunk of city parkland somewhere for a dog park, a fenced-in area where dogs are let off the leash to run and mingle with other dogs. They've been popular in other cities for a long time and plenty of area residents, including those who moved here from dog-friendly places elsewhere, said they wanted to see one here.
After the city moved veterans monuments from a tiny park at Grandview Parkway and Division Street to a new memorial area off 11th Street, it made a vacant pice of parkland adjacent to the former veterans site available.
The city has fenced in the area and built a sidewalk to connect the dog area but has more work to do, including adding a few more dog bag dispensers, a drinking fountain and water station for dogs. Plenty of park benches for owners to chat will be essential.
Dog park supporters raised more than $19,000 for the park, and Parks and Recreation Superintendent Lauren Vaughn said the goal is to raise another $7,000 to pay for additional amenities.
It's early yet, but dire predictions that the park would be a place for doggy mayhem — with bigger dogs attacking smaller animals and menacing owners — have failed to materialize.
And judging from the wide support for the park — witness the $19,000 in donations with an additonal $7,000 possibly to come — the dog park will likely be one of the city's most well-used and most-appreciated, amenities.
Residents asked, the city listened, and Traverse City's dogs have a place to blow off a little steam and their owners a chance to make some like-minded friends.
This is the way it's supposed to work, with the city responding to residents and improving the standard of living in the bargain. If only every wish were so easily and wisely granted.