Nature Coast Dog Parks bring Joy
Written by Kent Smith
Is your Rottweiler rambunctious? Is your poodle depressed?
Perhaps they just need to “paws” and reflect.
Dogs put on a happy face for their owners, but experts say they are actually more vulnerable to mental or emotional stress than humans, triggering any number of physiological ailments.
One method of treating this problem is taking your pet out of your world and returning them to their natural home-the great outdoors-where they can “feel like a dog again.”
Dog Parks on Florida’s Nature Coast are designed and equipped for Pets
Many of the public “people parks” across the Nature Coast allow dogs in designated places with restrictions. It can be a better experience to visit a park specifically designed and equipped for owners and pets celebrating the unique symbiotic relationship that joins them.
Beware of Internet information indicating there are many local dog parks, as officials stated these reports are erroneous. One website stated there are 10 dog parks in New Port Richey alone.
“I don’t know where they got that” one city leader said.
Centennial Dog Park in Spring Hill
The only park established for dogs in Hernando County is the Rotary Centennial Dog Park at 10375 Sandlor St. in Spring Hill, created with support from the area Rotary Club. Its sprawling three acres of fenced-in grass is open daily from 8 a.m. until sunset, with separate areas where dogs can either run free or must be on a leash.
“There is definitely a desire by people to have more dog parks here,” County Parks and Recreation Director Harry Johnson said. “We get phone calls about that all the time.” For instance, there are no dog parks in Brooksville.
Pine Island Dog Beach Program Cancelled
Johnson said the County once conducted a dog-beach program at Pine Island to address the shortage. It was axed by county commissioners when a few beachgoers claimed owners weren’t picking up after their pets.
Now there is not a single dog beach open along the Nature Coast. The nearest spot is at Honeymoon Island in Dunedin, an impressive, picturesque area well worth the drive for dogs who love the surf.
With local governments strapped for cash, public-private cooperative ventures like the aforementioned Rotary Club effort can bridge the gap.
Thomas B. Dobies helped fund Holiday Dog Park
Thomas B. Dobies, founder, and owner of Dobies Funeral Homes stepped in to help his local community. Dobies Funeral Home operates five local facilities, with another planned on County Line Road on the Pasco-Hernando border. The funeral home programs include Pets at Peace, a special service that provides immediate response, cremation, pet tributes, and grief support.
Dobies is a prolific community philanthropist known throughout the Tampa Bay area. One “pet” project is his generous support of the Humane Society and the SPCA Suncoast Annual PetWalk in memory of his gone-but-never-forgotten Labrador mix, Lucy.
That’s not all. Noting the dearth of local dog parks, Dobies donated $25,000 to finance the expansion of Anclote Gulf Park’s pet area named for Lucy. This dog park, at 2305 Baillie’s Bluff Road in Holiday, offers a fenced-in, 24,000-square-foot dog walking area, dog fountain, and agility playset with tunnels.
Pasco officials have added a dog park to the Land O’ Lakes Recreation Complex at 3032 Collier Parkway with similar amenities; both are open daily from dawn ’til dusk. Call 813-929-2760 for more information.
Crews Lake Wilderness Park welcomes Dogs on Nature Trails
For a meditative getaway, you can visit Crews Lake Wilderness Park at 16739 Crews Lake Drive in Shady Hills. Though not a true dog park, the 113-acre parcel allows pets on leashes in designated areas, a picturesque landscape blessed with nature trails, countless birds, and a myriad of Florida wildlife.
Hudson resident Tod Mason has trekked the dog trails at Crews Lake at sunrise with his Welsh corgis for more than 20 years: first with Dakota, and now with Jack. “I like it because it’s so quiet. The boardwalk goes out onto the lake and it’s very tranquil, peaceful,” he said. “It’s clean, too.”
Call 727-861-3038 for details on the dog walks, camping, picnics, etc.
Dade City’s Price Park features Dog Amenities
In Dade City, you can visit Price Park at 37415 Magnolia Ave. under the aegis of the town’s Public Works Department. Director Bryan Holmes said the dawn-until-dusk facility has fire hydrants, a dog fountain, exercise equipment and plenty space to run. Call 352-523-5050 for more information.
Zephyrhills Gunner Paw Park
Gunner Paw Park is part of the City of Zephyrhills Parks and Recreation offerings. Melonie Monson, Executive Director of Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce says, “As a doggy mom it’s always fun to see places to take the pup. We have a dog park here in Z’Hills too. Gunner Paw Park.”
Gunner Paw Park is 5.66 acres and features an off-leash dog park for both large and small breeds, playground, restroom, multi-purpose trail, wooded areas along with park benches, and trash receptacles. It is located at 39536 Alston Avenue.
New Port Richey offers Meadows Dog Park
In New Port Richey, Meadows Dog Park is located at 6674 Meadowbrook Lane; hours are 6 a.m.-7:15 p.m. daily. It has separate areas for large and small dogs. Last summer the city approved a $500,000 renovation project for the tract. Call 727-841-4560 for information.
Port Richey Dog Park
There is also the modest-sized Port Richey Dog Park at 6333 Ridge Road. It has water stations, a few exercise features, and a bit of room to run. Call 727-835-1267 for details.
Citrus County Offers Bluebird Springs Dog Park in Homosassa
Veronica Kampschroer is the Public Information Officer for the Citrus County Commissioners. She said, “There is a high need in Citrus County. Everyone wants to know what there is to see and do with their furry friends!”
Homosassa’s 5-acre Bluebird Springs Dog Park is the county’s only true public dog park. Blessed with the spring’s oval pool, a playground and many canine amenities, the tract is at 8950 W. Bluebird Springs Lane.
Private Dog Park Options
A private jewel in the Inverness community is Bark Central Dog Park at 6301 E. Turner Camp Road, the Taj Mahal of area dog parks. This one-of-a-kind, 20-acre recreation tract is “where dogs can run, play or swim in a safe environment,” including naturally filtered pools for a dip on hot days. There is also an obedience training yard and warm-water bathing tubs. Owned by Susan Sullivan, it even features temperament screening.
Hours are 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Rates are $10 a day for the first dog, $5 for the second one. Memberships are $30 a month for the first dog plus a key deposit and $5 for the second. Call 352-341-2275 for questions or go to [email protected].
Dogs are also allowed in some of the “people parks” operated by the City of Inverness; call 352-341-7849. However, the City of Crystal River prohibits dogs in all of its public parks.
“There are so many people using these parks it’s obvious there is a demand for them,” Kampschroer added.
Common Rules for Enjoying Nature Coast Dog Parks
Use common sense when you take your pet anywhere.
- Prohibit vicious dogs
- Require a leash
- Be sure to clean up after your pet
- Require proof of tags and vaccinations to be with the pet
11th Annual Dog Days in Dade City to be held March 20, 2021
Dogs remind us to “live in the moment” without regrets about the past or fears about tomorrow. On March 20, an event coming to Dade City will be held that “is a wonderful way for dogs and humans to have fun together,” according to organizer Lucy Avila.
The 11th-annual Dog Days in Dade City is slated for 10 a.m.-2 p.m. March 20 at Agnes Lamb Park across from The Edwinola on Meridian Avenue.
Scheduled events include the Dog-Wagon Parade, 10 a.m.; Dog Costume Contest, 11 a.m.; K-9 Challenge, noon; Canine Got Talent? 12:30 p.m.; and an Ice Cream/Yogurt Eating Contest, 1:30 p.m.
Other attractions include booths for commercial vendors ($20) or non-profits ($10), information from dog rescuers, copies of The New Barker dog magazine, and food and refreshments. Face masks and leashes are required.
“It’s really for families and dog lovers to enjoy their pets,” Avila said. “Owners are encouraged to dress their pet up in costumes for the dog parade. It’s always a lot of fun! We can’t wait to get started…it’s really coming together!”
Call Avila at 352-424-4972 or visit www.dogdaysindadecity.com for more details.