By Cameo Cicmanec
How does your 40 pound sweet dog feel cooped up inside as you work throughout the day? Sure, a short walk around the block or a backyard business trip are necessary for them, but what if they want more? What if they want to go play with the other dogs, sniff grass, and chase squirrels? When is the last time you went on a picnic or just observed the mangroves our state fights so hard to protect? Do yourself and your dog a favor and get outside; explore what the local parks in Pinellas County have to offer in the way of dog friendly trails and run areas. You both may be pleasantly surprised.
On a recent visit to Walter Fuller Park, St. Petersburg College student Jenna Jean and her eight pound toy poodle Barklie were out taking a jog. Jenna often comes to Walter Fuller Park in between classes to take pictures with her boyfriend Zach. “Zach likes it for the natural lighting for pictures,” she said, “but I just like not walking Barklie around my house. It gets really boring.”
Walter Fuller not only has two different fenced in areas for larger and smaller dogs, but also a gradually inclining paved trail circling Jungle Lake, making it a great place for dog owners and pedestrians alike. Jenna mentioned she enjoys the trail for the scenery and length of the trail. “Running about 3 laps around the lake gets me at two and a half miles, and there is always ducks floating around the lake to entertain Barklie,” she said. Walter Fuller Park has lighting along the trail and close by playing fields for early morning and late night strolls.
Another great dog friendly park is Boca Ciega Millennium Park located in Seminole, Florida . This park is hidden within the quiet neighborhoods of Seminole. Located further back in the park close to the boardwalk, the one and a half acre cleared grass area for dogs is enclosed by fences that hold back the natural wild foliage. Garbage disposals are conveniently located throughout the leash-free arena, and benches are dotted along the perimeter, offering a resting place for sun or shade. The trail that winds throughout the park leads to a 35 foot wooden observation deck with a 360 degree view of Florida’s glimmering inter-coastal waters and surrounding mangroves. The trail consists of a raised wooden boardwalk and closer to land, a trotted paved walkway framed with Spanish moss and vine strung pine and palm trees.
Centered by the Walsingham Water Reservoir, Walsignham Park in Largo has over 6 miles in paved trails and a 10 station workout course. Close to the reservoir is the fenced in dog park. Let your dog roam free and hang with all the other dogs while you kick back and relax on the benches within the gated area. Whenever visiting the park, there are always people to talk to and friends to be made. Arnie Wilkes, who was recently visiting Walsingham Park, mentioned that he enjoys coming out to socialize his dog. “Charlie gets too restless at home because there are two new grandchildren visiting. I let him run around here until he gets tired,” he said. “I usually come out here to get the babes, ah just kidding, me and my wife love this park. If we don’t take Charlie out with us, we like to take out bikes and ride around.” Walsingham Park is ideal for bike riding with its paved and mostly shaded paths and bathrooms to use.
Whichever park you chose to visit, keep a few things in mind: All parks have parking available, open 30 minutes before sunrise and closing 30 minutes after sunset. A general rule of cleanliness is expected for you and your dog. Bring a bag and clean up after them. Make sure to bring a leash for the trails, and of course relax and enjoy what nature has to offer.
For Rules and Regulations for all Pinellas County Dog Parks and Beaches visit www.pinellascounty.org.