OURAY – In just five short months, the idea of creating a dog park on an empty city lot in Ouray has sprung from dream to reality. This Sunday, June 24, Ouray Mayor Bob Risch makes it official when he snips the ribbon at a ceremony scheduled for 2 p.m.
All well-mannered dogs-about-town, and their people, are encouraged to attend. There will be doggie treats, and a contest that recognizes each dog’s uniqueness.
The brand-new dog park is the only place in Ouray where dogs are officially allowed to run off-leash. However, due to the volume of guests expected to attend Sunday’s ceremony, organizers ask that dogs be leashed for the occasion.
The park is located on an empty, city-owned lot at the west end of Eighth Avenue, adjacent to the Uncompahgre River. Residents and visitors have been “unofficially” enjoying the site since it was fenced in a couple of weeks ago.
Amenities currently include a water tap, water bowls, custom-painted trash cans, some donated chairs and picnic tables, and splash pools for pups to play in. Signage outlining the park’s rules and guidelines, and a “poop bag” dispenser, are due to be installed shortly.
Further down on the dog park’s wish list, and not crucial for its opening, are improvements to landscaping including sod and crushed gravel, a divided area for small dogs, agility equipment, shelter from sun and rain, and lighting. There is even a proposal to install a “Park Spark,” a street light that would be powered by methane from dog poop.
It may not look like much, this gravel and dirt lot with its patches of weeds and grass, and a few shade trees here and there, but already, the dogs are loving it. There’s plenty of room for chasing and fetching, and getting to know new friends of both the canine and human varieties.
June Kirchner has been the catalyst for the park’s creation. She and her husband came up with the idea after traveling with their own pet pooches and discovering wonderful dog parks in other parts of the country. She googled “how to start a dog park” and from there the idea gained a life of its own.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Committee worked with Kirchner to develop a formal proposal, which was approved by the Ouray City Council in January.
A flurry of fundraising ensued with the goal of raising enough money to pay for gated fencing and signage at the park. By April, Kirchner and her group had raised close to $5,000. Council pledged to spot the project an additional $1,110 to help cover the cost of fencing, so that the park could open in June.
Kirchner and her group still have to raise $760 to pay the city back for this loan. They have a few more fundraising events planned throughout the summer, including an upcoming yard sale, an ice cream social, and possibly a reception for summer residents.
The group is also selling Tshirts and “Dogs of Ouray” calendars. Look for their booth at the Mountain Air Music Series at Fellin Park for the next two Thursdays. Cash donations are accepted at the Wildflower Boutique.
Kirchner believes the park will be a happy place not only for dogs, but for humans too. “The people you meet at dog parks are so nice,” she said. “Dogs are a good ice breaker, a good conversation-starter.”
A recent morning at the Ouray Dog Park seemed to prove this point. As Kirchner’s dogs Buddy and Cedrick romped with other pooch pals who had stopped by to play, the humans gathered in the shade to swap dog stories, sip coffee and enjoy the fresh summer morning.
“It truly feels like the ‘people’s dog park,’” Kirchner smiled.
For more information about the Ouray Dog Park, contact Kirchner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970/325-4113.