Wichita’s fourth off-leash dog park is open, will include city’s first doggie playground

Wichita has a new off-leash dog park, and it’s the fanciest one yet.

Even better — it will likely have a west-side sister park within a year or so.

Saturday, Sept. 28, will be the grand opening and ribbon-cutting for the big new dog park at W.B. Harrison Park, 1300 S. Webb, but the park has been letting eager people and their pets in for several weeks, said Troy Houtman, director of Parks and Recreation. People were so excited when they saw the nearly-completed space, they really couldn’t be kept out.

“It was like the kids at the candy store looking through the window,” Houtman said with a laugh.

The giant enclosed dog park, which has taken over the east corner of the park, is a collaboration between the city, WDM Architects and Together Wichita, which is a nonprofit made up of businesses that organize and finance projects intended to better the city. The Wichita Eagle is one of the businesses.

The dog park includes a giant fenced-in area where big dogs can play and an almost-as-giant area for little dogs — the pugs, pekingese and pomeranians that weigh 25 pounds and under. Like all dog parks, it has a double-gated entrance that decreases the opportunity for escape.

But this park will have a few extra amenities the others don’t, and a big draw will likely be the agility equipment that will be installed before the grand opening. Dogs will be able to scurry across a balance beam, play on a teeter totter, crawl through a tunnel and jump through hoops.

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Until then, they can run out their energy and play with other dogs while their owners enjoy some shaded benches and picnic tables. Owners will also appreciate the cement pathways that have been installed throughout the park and the upgraded, new parking lot just beside it, courtesy of the city.

When pooches are pooped, they can drink out of a dog-level fountain, and when they’re ready to go home, they can rinse off in a dog shower.

The new dog park will be Wichita’s fourth city-owned dog park, joining Chapin Park at 2400 E. MacArthur Road, which was the city’s first dog park; the K-9 Rooster Park at Meridian Park, 2127 N. Meridian; and the dog park behind the Murfin Animal Care Campus, 3313 N. Hillside.

And there will likely be a fifth Wichita dog park in the near future, said Dale Seiwert, the Wichita Eagle’s general manager and a board member for Together Wichita. The group, which donated around $220,000 for the equipment, fencing, concrete and shade structures in the park, is interested in opening another park with agility equipment on the west side, and one of the possible sites is Sedgwick County Park, he said.

“We’re working with the county to see if that’s a possibility,” he said. “It has lots of open spaces.”

If the Sedgwick County Park plan works out, Seiwert said, the west-side park could be ready within a year.

Off-leash dog parks are highly desired amenities in cities across the country, Houtman said. Not only do they allow city-dwelling dogs to get a chance to run and exercise, they’re also good for people socialization.

“It’s really interesting because it’s not just social for the dogs,” he said. “It’s a social platform for the dog owners as well. Quite often, they’re out there with a cup of coffee or they’ll make a date with another dog friend.”

On Friday afternoon, two dogs and their people were trying out the new Harrison Park dog park.

Joslyn Pinkerton and her coonhound mix, Lexi, had driven all the way from Rose Hill to the park, and as they pulled into the neighborhood, Pinkerton said, Lexi went crazy with joy as the park came into view.

She was even more joyful when she met up with Axel, a whippet mix whose dad, Chase Carson, lives nearby. He and Axel started noticing construction on the park and wondered what it would be. When they found out their neighborhood was getting a new dog park, they were thrilled. They’d been traveling to the dog park in Andover whenever Axel felt restless.

“Now, I don’t have to drive clear across town to let him run around,” Carson said.

The ribbon cutting for the new park will be at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28. Organizers will have food trucks there as well as local vets giving out information and free checkups.

W.B. Harrison Dog Park

What: A new dog park that’s a collaboration between the City of Wichita, Together Wichita and WDM Architects

Where: At at W.B. Harrison Park near Harry and Webb. The dog park is in the east corner of the park and is most easily accessed by traveling east on Harry from Webb then turning north on Todd

Hours: The park is open from 6 a.m. to midnight daily

Features: Agility equipment will be installed soon, but the park has fenced in off-leash areas for small dogs and big dogs, a drinking fountain for people and dogs, a dog shower, waste bags and concrete paths. There’s also a big hill in the big dog park section.

Rules: A full list of dog park rules is posted at the entrance, but among them are that no dogs deemed dangerous are allowed; Dogs must be neutered, licensed and up-to-date on shots; Dogs must be at least 5 months old; Dogs must wear collars with identification and rabies tags

Together Wichita Partners: Armstrong Chamberlin; Berry Companies Inc.; Credit Union of America; Fleeson Gooing, Coulson & Kitch; Friends University; Newman University; Spirit AeroSystems; Wichita Area Builders Association; The Wichita Eagle; Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce

Denise Neil has covered restaurants and entertainment since 1997. Her Dining with Denise Facebook page is the go-to place for diners to get information about local restaurants. She’s a regular judge at local food competitions and speaks to groups all over Wichita about dining.