Purchase photos

Pets have tail-wagging good time





Canines, both big and small, were feeling frisky and having a doggone good time at Saturday's grand opening of the Hays Dog Park at Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex.

"It's something Hays needs," said Lynn Schmeidler, Hays, who brought her dog, Poncho, a chihuahua and rat terrier mix. "It's nice to see Hays grow, and grow to not only cater kids, but also the four-legged kids."

Before the official leash-cutting ceremony, Friends of the Hays Dog Park president Kim Perez marveled at the fact this day was here.

"It's kind of surreal," Perez said. "It's been a lot of years in the making. It's kind of surreal it happened now.

"Had you asked me a year ago would we be here, I would have said no, it's going to be a couple more years. It just went quickly."

Friends of the Hays Dog Park is a grassroots organization that started a fundraising campaign for the dog park in 2011.

The park opened Feb. 1, a frigid Saturday when there was snow on the ground. It was a bittersweet time for Perez, who lost one of her two dogs a couple months before. Her other dog was able to enjoy the park for a short while, but now is unable to come out anymore.

"I guess the joy I get is seeing the dogs and owners over there, wagging their tails and having a good time out here," Perez said before the opening ceremony. "It's been great.

"I get joy out of other people's dogs. If people see me out here without a dog, it's because I'm watching other people."

One of the dogs enjoying the area reserved for big dogs was Molly, a silky coat collie. Molly was frolicking through the wide, open spaces, playing with other dogs.

"She likes other dogs, she likes to play with everybody," said Molly's owner, Lexey Bartlett of Hays. "It's really great. My dog likes to run -- and she really likes other dogs."

Saturday's activities included dog games and dog agility drills, and hot dogs were sold.

Perez said the dog park still isn't finished. Money still is being raised for shelters, benches have been ordered and need to be installed, as well as donor plaques.

"There's a lot to do, but we've got the basic foundation up now," Perez said. "We just continue to add to it."