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Iowa City’s weekly Party in the Park comes to Thornberry Off-leash Dog Park


Party in the Park

Thornberry Off-leash Dog Park — Thursday, June 20, 6:30-8 p.m.

Thornberry Off Leash Dog Park. — Iowa City Parks and Recreation Department

Humans are welcome to attend Thursday’s Party in the Park as the summer-long series of weekly events goes to the dogs. Literally. This week’s party will be at the Thornberry Off-leash Dog Park.

Tennis balls and treats will be provided for the attending pups. Humans can enjoy music, dog-toy crafting and squirt-gun watercolor painting. On a more practical note, doggie bags will provided, so dog owners can clean up after their companions.

It’s the first time the Iowa City Parks and Recreation Department has held one of these annual parties in a dog park.

“We were going to the same parks that were in neighborhoods, which was great to get neighbors together,” Recreation Program Supervisor Lyndsey Kent told Little Village. This year, the department made a decision to include new locations in the weekly parties schedule.

Thornberry, one of Iowa City’s two dog parks (the other is Rita’s Ranch), seemed a natural choice, Kent said. It appeals to both dog owners and people who just enjoy watching dogs at play.

Opened in 2006, Thornberry provides four separate recreational areas for different doggy needs across 12 acres:

• The Linder Tire Service Small Dog Yard: a yard for puppies or smaller dogs measuring less than 18 inches tall at the shoulder

• Lily’s Pond: a 15-foot deep pond for dog swimming

• Lucky Pawz Playground: a large area with two shelters, and benches

• Emma’s Run: an area for large dogs to run.

Owners who want to let their dogs off their leash in the park need either a permit or a day pass. Year-long permits are $50 for Iowa City residents and $57 for non-residents. (There’s a $5 discount for dogs that are spayed or neutered.) Both permits and passes require proof of rabies vaccination.

On its dog parks site, the Park and Recreation Department has a list of all the rules for both the two- and four-legged.

1. All dogs must

  • be at least 16 weeks old to enter
  • be fully vaccinated for rabies
  • display a permit for use of the park
  • be accompanied by a responsible person at least 16 years of age
  • be on leash when entering or exiting the off-leash area
  • be under the handler’s visual contact and voice control at all times

2. The following dogs are not allowed in the park:

  • vicious, dangerous or aggressive dogs
  • dogs with communicable diseases
  • dogs in heat

3. Dog handlers must

  • clean up after their dogs; biodegradable waste disposal bags and receptacles are provided
  • carry a leash for each dog in the park
  • discourage dogs from excessive barking and dominating behavior
  • stop dogs from digging and fill holes made by their dog
  • be responsible for actions and behavior of their dogs at all times
  • remove pinch, choke and spike collars prior to entering the park
  • not have more than two dogs in the park at one time

4. Electronic training devices are restricted to the training and agility area.

5. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied and supervised by a responsible adult.

6. Wheeled devices, excepting wheel chairs and strollers, are not allowed.

7. Smoking is prohibited within the fenced areas.

8. No food allowed in the park except for small training treats.

9. Dogs over 18 inches at the shoulder are not allowed in the small dog yard.

10. Users of the facility do so at their own risk.

11. Other park rules and ordinances may apply.

12. Violations should be reported to Iowa City Animal Services at 356-5295.

Iowa City singer-songwriter Dave Zollo will be the featured musical performer at this week’s Party in the Park. He’ll perform a solo show, starting at 5 p.m. Zollo has a tattoo of the patron saint of dogs, Saint Rocco (also known as Saint Roch, and whose saintly portfolio includes assisting bachelors, diseased cattle and gravediggers in addition to dogs, as well as defending against epidemics and knee problems) and a boxer named Mona. Mona, however, won’t be attending the party.

“I can’t watch her and serenade the other pooches at the same time,” Zollo said in an email.

This is the fourth week for Party in the Park. The 90-minute event at Thornberry starts at 6:30 p.m. It is free (for humans) and open to the public. Because the park is configured for dogs, people are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and water to drink.

— Iowa City Parks and Recreation Department.

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