Downtown Detroit park lets dogs stretch their legs

Detroit — New space at Detroit's Capitol Park was christened Wednesday by some who sniffed, chased and maybe even lifted a leg in some spots.

A grand opening of a new dog park at 1201 Griswold Street included a ribbon-cutting, dog treats, drinks for dog owners. And, of course, space for the four-legged participants to introduce themselves to their canine companions.

Beverly Burns, who lives in the Capitol Park neighborhood brought her 8-year old Bernese Mountain dog, Harriet, to the event. 

"I witnessed the space being empty five years ago and with me living close to the area, I am glad I have a safe space to bring my dog when I go for a walk," Burns said.  

Money for park renovations, $165,000, was raised through crowdfunding by the Detroit Downtown Partnership and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation/Patronicity, according to a release. There is no cost to dog owners for using the space, tucked into a historic neighborhood and surrounded by coffee shops, restaurants and stores. The dog park will remain open even as the area undergoes further renovations, said the Downtown Detroit Partnership, which manages the park.

Six dogs sniffed out the place and ran around chasing each other for Wednesday's ribbon-cutting ceremony against a backdrop of tall buildings and an expanse of green grass. Piper, a 1-year-old Golden Retriever, came with her owner, Kara Dittrich, and chased Mable, a Great Pyrenees-Labrador Retriever mix,  and Seamus, a hound shepherd-mix.  Gordy, a chocolate Lab named after Detroit Red Wings great Gordie Howe, and Rowdy jumped in.

Janet O'Brien, the owner of Mable and 9-year Seamus, walks the Detroit River Walk every Sunday with them and O'Brien said they enjoy socializing with anyone they encounter.

"My dogs are very social dogs and are friends to dogs of all sizes" she said.  

There was no separate space for the petite 10-month-old Rowdy, a Miniature Dachshund, but Rowdy’s owner, Fiona Gepp, said her 7.5 pound dog could hold her own against the big dogs. 

“She plays with all dogs, no matter the size," said Gepp.  "She’s a big ball of energy and she isn’t afraid of any size dogs."

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