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New park goes to the dogs

One might not expect the opening of a park without any ballfields or playground equipment to attract much notice, but dozens upon dozens of residents showed up Saturday to celebrate a new county park off Ault Field Road.

There was some barking, sniffing, drooling and a whole lot of running in circles.

Both dogs and people were thrilled to have a second, larger off-leash dog park in the Oak Harbor area. The Clover Valley Park is the fifth dog park on an island apparently teeming with dogs and dog lovers.

“People have been coming and going all day long,” Lori Matteson said Saturday. She’s a member of the group FETCH (Free Exercise Time for Canines and their Humans) and spearheaded construction of the park with her husband, John.

“I don’t think we had one fight,” she added, apparently referring to the dogs.

The three-acre park is fenced in for doggy safety and has both open space and a wooded area. There’s a port-a-potty and a shelter with picnic tables for people.

For the grand opening, dog owner Paul Taylor grilled up homemade sausage on a giant-sized barbecue from Pot Belly Deli. Matteson said Taylor and his dog, Buzz, are “ambassadors of the park” since they are there every day.

It was definitely a dog day. Late that afternoon, a menagerie of canines of all different sizes and breeds milled about in the sun, apparently tired out from the heat and excitement. The humans chatted, often sharing stories about their dogs’ antics.

Oak Harbor resident Brian Jepson brought three kids and two dogs to the park opening. He is used to bringing his dogs to the off-leash park off Technical Road, but he likes the larger size of the new park better. He said dogs parks are a great thing, especially since they save him from walking the dogs. “They like to pull my arm out of the socket,” he said.

Also, Jepson pointed out that the park gives him a chance to meet other dog-loving people.

Rachel Nikhola arrived at the park with her three pooches — Chubby, Roxey and Becky. She normally drives all the way south of Coupeville to go to the off-leash park at Patmore Pit, but this park will save her a lot of driving.

Nikhola said one of the benefit of off-leash parks is that it gives the mutts a chance to learn how to act around one another, as well as other people.

“I’ve tried to socialize them since they were little babies,” she said.

The Clover Valley Park is located off Ault Field Road next to ballfields owned by North Whidbey Park and Recreation District. The Technical Drive Park is off of Goldie Road, at the end of Technical Drive. Patmore Pit Park is located off of Patmore Road, just west of the Navy’s Outlying Field.

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