Columbia DogPark becomes a social scene for canines and their humans

Renee Rosenblum-Lowden likes to go to the new Columbia DogPark — to people-watch.
“It’s fascinating to watch people interact with their dogs,” says the retired teacher and author who lives in Hobbits Glen. 
Zeke, a white mutt, also likes to play with other dogs, so Rosenblum-Lowden brings him daily. “He loves the openness. … It’s kept beautifully.”
The Columbia DogPark, the first dog park in Columbia and the second in Howard County, opened on Memorial Day weekend.
Located on 2.7 acres off Cedar Lane in the village of Harper’s Choice, the $147,000 park is fenced, with separate areas for large dogs (more than 25 pounds) and smaller dogs. All breeds are permitted.
It’s already a hit. Nearly 200 dog owners have registered, including more than 50 before the park opened, says David Greisman, a spokesman for the Columbia Association. Dog lovers had been “hounding” the Columbia Association for years for a dedicated off-leash play space for canines, he says.
Peak times are early morning and evenings.
A fenced pen has been created at the entrances to allow owners to remove leashes upon entering and re-attach them upon exiting. The transitional area also allows dogs to adjust, says Sean Harbaugh, assistant division director of the CA’s Open Space Management. “They have a chance to sniff and get used to the surroundings.”
The park features a teeter-totter, tunnel, bridge and logs, two water spigots, several benches for owners, and numerous stations with plastic mitts and disposal containers. 
A tub of tennis balls has been placed at the entrances, and owners are told to leave their dogs’ toys at home.
“This way, they still get to play, but there aren’t possession issues,”says Harbaugh.
The rules of the park are nearly identical to those of Worthington Dog Park in Ellicott City, owned by Howard County.
“There tends to be self-policing,” says Harbaugh, who says dog owners gently point out when another owner has missed a cleanup. It’s “petiquette.”
But barking, sniffing and even occasional humping are considered normal dog behavior. “Dogs will be dogs,” he says.
In the event of a dog fight or an aggressive dog, owners are asked to call Animal Control or police.
“Most dogs love it here,” says Harbaugh. “But for some, being off-leash may not be for them.” 
If you go:
Columbia DogPark
5901 Rivendell Lane, Columbia

Annual rates: $35 per dog for CA residents. $40 for non-CA residents.

One-day pass: $5 for CA residents. $6 for non-CA residents.

How to register: Visit columbiaassociation.org/dogpark or CA’s Open Space Management Division at 9450 Gerwig Lane. Bring your dog license and rabies vaccine certification.

Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset, except Thursday mornings during maintenance.

Rules: One household can register a maximum of three dogs. Two dogs per handler are permitted in the park. Children under 12 are not admitted.

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