Whitefish’s furry friends have new upgrades to enjoy at the Whitefish Animal Group Dog Park.
The park just completed a number of improvements, including an improved north field, a new drainage river and new obstacles for the more athletic pooches.
Jim Lockwood, president of WAG, said the upgrades have all been funded through donations to WAG. The city of Whitefish pitched in to help as well, he said.
In addition to the upgrades inside the park, the city paid to pave the parking lot and the road leading into the dog park, which previously had been gravel.
“The city gets full credit for this, the city 100 percent paid for all new paving not only in the parking lot but the road in and the little path that goes south toward the Armory,” he said. “That’s a huge improvement.”
The park, built in 2009, has seen a number of changes in the last few years, starting with a new dog wash station in 2015.
Last year’s upgrading to the north field included plumbing in the pond that helps clean and regulate the water levels, along with landscaping, sprinkling and the man-made creek that carries excess water out from the field.
The north field upgrades cost about $70,000, Lockwood said, which was funded mostly from the Whitefish Community Foundation’s Great Fish Challenge.
However, the most popular addition to the park has been the pond, he said.
“You go there on any summer afternoon, almost everybody with a dog that likes to swim is in there,” Lockwood said. “That’s by far the most popular upgrade feature we have in that park. And one of the things that makes us so distinctive, they generally don’t have swimming holes in the fenced areas for the dogs.”
Lockwood said improvements to the park are not yet finished.
The next steps for the park are new “bullpen” entrances into the park from the parking lot. Currently there is one entrance with two doors.
The new separate entrances will hopefully make getting in and out of the park with excited dogs a little less stressful.
“That will greatly reduce the congestion at the current bullpen,” Lockwood said. “That’s something we’re going to do in the fall.”
The bullpens will hopefully be funded through the Great Fish Challenge again, he said, with estimates putting the upgrade costs around $25,000.
About $500,000 has been spent on the park since its inception, Lockwood said, mostly through fundraising or donations of work and time.
The best ideas for the park come from the people who use it, he said, and WAG is always open to hearing new ways to improve.
“We pay attention to what people say,” he said. “They’ll mention what some other park has and say, ‘What if we had this here?’ We usually get ideas from the patrons that use the park.”