Every dog has its day at new park in Canton

Off-leash area allows canines to play, exercise

September 16, 2002|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

About 75 canines, from Chihuahuas to Doberman pinschers, ran around in Canton yesterday at the official opening of Baltimore's first park for dogs.

"Dogs are very social creatures, and they need an exercising and a social outlet, and this is perfect," said Dr. Estelle Ward, a veterinarian. "This is like Starbucks for dogs."

Kim Stallwood, president of the Canton Community Association, said members decided two years ago that they needed a park for dogs.

"They provide a safe, fenced area for dogs to run off-leash and play with their own kind, and they provide an opportunity for neighbors to get to know each other," Stallwood said.

Some eager pet owners brought their dogs to the park Friday, before it officially opened.

"They've been waiting for this to happen," Stallwood said.

The park, which is in Sen. Joseph Bonvegna Field at Clinton and Toone streets, is free and will be open daily from dawn to dusk. It has separate spaces for large dogs and small dogs.

Kimberley Amprey said Canton organizers were planning it when she became acting parks director two months ago.

"The concept was already in place," Amprey said. "I just simply was the person to help connect the dots. I'm very happy to help them get to this point. I commend them for having the vision, addressing the need and making it happen. It's a good thing for the city. We already have people coming in from Towson."

Dog parks are big in New York City, and they're slowly gaining popularity in the Baltimore area. A dog park opened in Anne Arundel County in December and another opened in Howard County in July. Members of the Federal Hill South community have also had a landscaping study done for a proposed dog park, Amprey said.

Ward, who works at Eastern Animal Hospital and owns two dogs, Sam, a 5-year-old Doberman pinscher, and Carly Simon, a 10-year-old coon-hound mix, said she expects more dog parks to open in the city.

John Bingle-Thompson couldn't say enough about Canton's park.

"I was scheduled to move to HarborView when a friend of mine told me about the park, and I took my deposit back and moved here," Bingle-Thompson said. He owns three dogs, including Ginger and Taffy, both Chihuahuas, who played in the park.

Bingle-Thompson said he likes the separate space for smaller dogs. "It would be very dangerous with my dogs in there," he said, pointing to the area where Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, German shepherds and other bigger dogs played.

Marvin, a 4-year-old Boston terrier, seemed undaunted by the large dogs and played ferociously with them in their space. His owner, Dan Scott of Canton, also had Foster, a 2-year-old white Labrador, with him.

Lori Schmid, a professional dog trainer and chairwoman of the park's dog club, which will maintain the grounds, said she would prefer that owners adhere to the rules but knows enforcement may be difficult.

She provided hoops and a nylon tunnel for the dogs to play with. Lauren Greifzu, 11, a sixth-grader at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School, tried unsuccessfully to get Princess, her 6-year-old German shepherd, to jump through a hoop.

"I like it," Lauren said. "It's a good place for dogs to run around and to meet other dogs."

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