Willis Tucker Park’s new off-leash area opens to howls of delight

SNOHOMISH — Many guests at Saturday’s dedication of a new dog park were anxious to start sniffing each other, barking and playing.

Close to 100 people, a lot of them with dogs, came out to the Willis Tucker Community Park for the opening of the county’s newest off-leash area for dogs.

The current site is 4.5 acres, with more space coming by the end of the year. The remaining part, which is still under construction, will add about 4 acres and will have a fenced-in area for shy dogs, said Tom Teigen, director of the county Parks and Recreation Department.

“It’s the biggest dog park I’ve ever seen,” said Jamie Magee, who was accompanied by her husband Jake Magee and their two Welsh corgis, Mario and Boo.

Originally from Mississippi, the Magees, both 25, will stay in Washington for six months while Jake Magee is attending job training.

Their one-bedroom apartment in Mill Creek doesn’t leave a lot of room for Mario and Boo to exercise, Jamie Magee said.

That’s why they were glad to discover the park.

“They have dog parks in Mississippi, but nothing like this,” she said.

The spacious area, equipped with a couple of ramps for dogs to climb, will be definitely worth the drive from Issaquah, said Sharon Jamieson.

Jamieson, Alexa Paul of Woodinville, Diane Kauffman of Lake Stevens and about half a dozen basset hounds between the three of them got together to play at the new park.

The three are known as “basset ladies” and are members of Basset Rescue of Puget Sound, an organization that helps unwanted and abandoned hounds find new homes.

Jamieson’s 11-year-old basset, Daisy Mae, who was dressed as an angel, won a prize at the costume contest, which was held at the start of the opening ceremony.

“It’s nice to go for a walk with your dog here. I can hardly wait for that other part to be finished,” Jamieson said.

Off-leash dog parks like this one provide a great chance to socialize for both dogs and their owners, said Sibyl Perkins, who is the director of a volunteer group called Sno-DOG. A list of off-leash dog parks in Snohomish County — there are about half a dozen — can be found on the group’s Web site at http://sno-dog.org/offleash_areas.html.

The group works with local officials and the county to help create more off-leash areas.

“They are really valuable, especially to people who don’t have the land to exercise their dogs,” Perkins said.

Parks director Tom Teigen said more and more people are starting to think that dog parks are a good idea — and a fairly inexpensive one.

“We don’t use a lot of taxpayers’ money on maintaining dog parks. They are really volunteer-driven,” he said.

It’s up to people to keep an eye on each other’s dogs and make sure the park stays clean.

“There’s a lot of self-­patrolling,” Teigen said. “They are very proactive at making sure other people’s dogs are behaving.”

Ed Barrett of Lake Stevens said he was glad to find another place where his three adopted dogs, named Luna, Mercedes and Cody, can be happy.

“It’s nice to be able to come here so close to home, instead of having to drive to Redmond or Seattle,” he said.

Reporter Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452 or kyefimova@heraldnet.com.

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