Saturday in Smyrna pet parents and their pups celebrated the grand opening of Bark Springs, the city's first off-leash dog park.
"We recognized the large population of dog owners we have here in town," said Smyrna Mayor Mary Esther Reed, "and we recognized that we needed an off-leash park to improve the quality of life not only for the dogs, but also for their owners. We really feel like this park will become a social hub."
In 2007 talk of a bark park started within the parks department, spurred by citizens calling, asking where their dogs could play off-leash, said Reed. In 2010 Heather McGarry approached the city to see if they would provide property for a park, and later formed Friends of Bark Springs to the necessary raise funds. The nonprofit will continue raising money and plans to expand the park, add benches and other amenities.
"I'm just so excited," said Molly Jennings, president of Friends of Bark Springs. She plans to socialize her pit-lab pups at the new park.
"We are a family of dog lovers, so we've always had dogs," Christina Patton, whose pups, Charlie and Missy, were both enjoying the sunny day. She's happy to have a park closer to home.
"He's my grandpuppy," said Missy Misenhimer. Scout, 1, is an energetic Siberian Husky who behaves better on walks when he's had time to romp. "We usually drive to Murfreesboro, so this is perfect," said Misenhimer. "Scout's excited."
Caleb Funderburk's pup Krypto, a blue tick hound dog, barked happily at other dogs, bounding through the park. "We rescued him from PAWS," said Jacinda Funderburk of her granddog. "He loves to play. He never meets a stranger -- dog, person, anything."
Banjo is only 4 months old, but the beagle-lab mix had the time of her young life Saturday, ripping and rolling in the grass. "She is so social," said Morgan Raybon. She, like many others, is thankful for a place where dogs can be dogs a little closer to home.
Special memorial bricks were unveiled honoring the hard work and contributions of PetSmart; Smyrna Independent Merchants Association; Gil's Ace Hardware; Smyrna Ready Mix; Bryce and Molly Jennings; Dempsey, Dilling and Associates Engineering; Smyrna Rotary Club; Heather, Declan, Mary Hollon and Jet McGarry; Southern Veterinarian Center; and The Friends of Bark Springs.
Staff Writer Cat Murphy may be reached at email@example.com.