It's been more than four years in the making, but Marietta's new community dog park is finally open to the public.
"We began working toward a dog park four-and-a-half years ago, but it's been more of a concentrated effort for the last three years," said Teresa Hayes, who's spearheaded the movement to establish the 2-acre facility at Jackson Hill Park.
She said the dog park could not have become a reality without the work of many volunteers and donations of money, time and materials from individuals and businesses.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Dog owners, from left, Dave McCullough, Susan Wunderlich, Park Oruch and Megan States give their pets a romp in the Marietta Community Dog Park recently.
"Approximately 50 people have, at one point or another, volunteered and helped build this facility," Hayes added.
Dave McCullough, 71, of Marietta was among several people who took their pets to the dog park Thursday.
"This is one of the biggest dog parks I've seen in this area," he said as his dog, Sandy, bounded around the large, fenced enclosure with other canines.
If you go
What-Marietta Community Dog Park.
Where-Jackson Hill Park off Cisler Drive in Marietta.
Hours of operation-6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
McCullough said until the Marietta dog park opened a couple of weeks ago, he would take Sandy to a similar, but much smaller facility at Wood County's Mountwood Park off U.S. 50 east of Parkersburg.
"Sandy loves to come up here. She can run around the park without being on a leash and when we get home she'll lie down and won't stir the rest of the evening," he said.
Park Oruch, 30, recently moved to Marietta from Oklahoma City, and was exercising his pooches, Dre and Devin, at the dog park Thursday.
"The dog park in Oklahoma was this size or maybe bigger, and it was separated for smaller and larger dogs, but we haven't had any problem here with our large dogs mixing with the smaller ones," he said.
Hayes said future plans for the Marietta park could include a fence to separate big and small dogs.
"We may do that," she said. "It all depends on what people who use the park say they want to see there. If there's a need we could provide the separation."
Oruch, who now lives on Hillcrest Drive, said finding a suitable place to walk his dogs was difficult.
"There were no areas we could walk our two dogs," he said. "We sometimes drive them down to the riverside, but this is much easier, and we want them to socialize with other dogs and people."
His friend, Megan States, 27, said she enjoys meeting with other dog owners at the park, and likes the idea of having someplace for the dogs to run.
"After a long day at work we just want to relax, and a couple of hours here helps tire the dogs out, too," she said.
Susan Wunderlich, 60, of Tunnel, is getting used to having her dog, Ladybird, around the house.
"I've had farm dogs before, but they were outside pets," she said. "This is the first time I've had a non-farm dog that stays in the house."
Wunderlich has been to the Marietta dog park three times with her pet since the facility opened.
"It helps a lot for her to be able to let all of her energy out," she said. "And I'm meeting people who have been very helpful in teaching me about caring for a dog."
Hayes said that's one of the benefits of a dog park.
"It provides a common ground for people as well as dogs to meet," she said.
Rules have been posted for the dog park, and Hayes urges anyone making use of the facilities to be sure to read those rules.
"They're about 10 to 12 standard dog park rules and recommendations that you would find at almost any park in other cities," she said.