BONZ: “Come! Sit! Stay!” on Nov. 8 at Dog Park

Hi, pet buddies. I’m so excited! I’ve been invited to cover a Special Event – and you guys can come, too. It’s the grand opening celebration of the pawsome new Vero Beach Dog Park Nov. 8 at 10 a.m.

It’s called “Come! Sit! Stay!” and I got to interview the event Chairdog himself, Jake Welles! Jake is a laid-back Yellow Lab whose human dad, Jim, adopted him from the Vero Beach Humane Society. He and Jim live in a bachelor pad with plenty of Frosty Paws in the fridge. Jake’s a good-looking pooch, smart, patient and kind. He’s also a master of the Wag- and-Sniff, and very popular, the sort of dog we’d all like our dads to be, you know?

We met at the Park, and the other dogs and their humans all said hi to him. The humans patted his head and friffled his ears and the dogs all wanted him to play with them. There were several little groups of dogs and humans hanging out and yapping, but it wasn’t crowded at all.

Honestly, you pooches have got to check out this place! It’s 5 ½ acres, all fenced in, right along the lagoon, between the River House and the City Marina, with about 1/3 for little dogs (30-pound limit) and the rest for us bigger dogs. Tons, I mean TONS, of space to run around in. Lots of nice shady trees all along the edges, plenty of water stations.

“And,” Jake pointed out, “We’re putting in two donated fountains, they’ll bubble and recirculate so the water’ll always be fresh. Notice how the inside fences curve, and see – the fence around the little dog area is only 3 feet high, (ours is 4) so they aren’t intimidated.”

“So thoughtful!” I said, totally impressed.

And, oh my gosh, dog buddies, no woof, there are actual, real – FIRE HYDRANTS! I mean, can you BELIEVE it??? Not attached to water, of course, but otherwise, totally perfect – and getting a lot of use. (The city donated them, Jake says.)

The huge grass field stretching north all the way to the Marina was making me want to just take off, haul tail and RUN! I mean, dogs were chasing each other all over the place, ears and wiffles* flapping, tails straight out behind. But I got a grip. I was working, after all.

“Bonz,” Jake said, “I’d like you to meet Rudy Wester and his human, John, they’re on the Dog Park Board. And Dakota Kizar and his human, Taner. Dakota’s a businessdog. He and Taner have a company, Advanced Property Management and Landscape Maintenance Service, that does all the maintenance for this whole place.”

Dakota was a friendly, soft-spoken Pit Bull Terrier, very dedicated to his work. He kept looking around, making sure everything was neat and tidy. “Yep,” he said, “It’s a lot of responsibility. This place has gotta be shipshape at all times. We got the electric and water put in just last March. We get dogs from all over the place, all over the world even. They come in with their humans, on boats, dock in the marina and just love that they have this terrific facility so close by. We’re getting very well known.”

Rudy, a Yorkie, was about the size of a catcher’s mitt, with hair that did whatever it wanted, very retro-punk. “Hi! Welcome to the Dog Park,” he said, from across the fence in the Small Dog area. “The garden club (they’re all humans) is donating trees and stuff and helped design the landscaping. Isn’t it pawsome?”

“Totally,” I said.

“And,” Rudy continued, “would you believe we get approximately 4,000 users per month, based on the poop bag count.

“Wow! Counting Poop Bags. I mean, that’s real dedication! Who does that?” I asked.

“Oh, John does,” replied Rudy, with a big smile.

“We’ve been trying to get this formalized for 10 years and, finally, the humans at City Hall agreed. We’ve got an 8-year lease, with two 5-year options. And, just this week, with the help of John and me and our human attorney Garry Rooney, and our original human attorney Robin Lloyd, we got everything all proper and official. And now we’re a 501(c)3!”

Thank goodness, my assistant had prepared me and I knew what that was, so I was able to nod intelligently.

“And the attorneys did it for us pro bono.”

“What about a bone?” I said.

Jake laughed. “It’s Latin. It means for free.”

Oh, well, one out of two.

“So, how are plans coming for the big event?”

“Great, Bonzo,” said Jake. “All dogs and their humans are invited. We’ll have music and food (3-Dog Deli and Joey’s Hot Dogs), vendors, a Lucky Dog Lottery, a raffle, memorial Bark Bricks, Canine Commodities, Humane Society adoptions and – a special surprise guest celebrity arriving by air.”

“Wow, guys, I can’t wait. Great meeting you. Thanks for all the info.”

So, hey, dog buddies, see you on the 8th, right?

*Wiffles: Flaps of lips and cheeks that flop around in the wind when a dog runs or sticks its head out the car window.

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