Dogs need entertainment and exercise, too, and in entertaining them, you just might entertain yourself. The best place to take you favorite canine in Lawrence is paws-down the "Mutt Run" off-leash dog park below the Clinton Lake spillway.
Opened August 4, 2001, the facility is the only place around that is exempt from Lawrence's leash laws. Many dog owners who used to gather on the hill above KU's Memorial Stadium and around Potter's Lake banded together to form Lawrence Dogs and Owners Green Space (LDOGS) to find a place for their pets to roam free.
A planning committee comprised of LDOGS, the Humane Society, local veterinarians and police set out the rules and regulations for the land, leased from the Army Corps of Engineers.
The rules are mostly common sense items, like cleaning up any gifts your pooch might leave behind (two plastic bag dispensers are on-site), and removing dogs looking to pick a fight.
"It's been very popular," said Director of Parks and Recreation Fred DeVictor of the dog park, calling public reaction "excellent." More dogs that go to the Mutt run mean fewer dogs at other parks, where they might disturb people not so canine-inclined.
According to DeVictor, the only real complaints at the Mutt Run are that it is not big enough. Already there are restrooms, and a drinking fountain for both dogs and humans.
A shelter is scheduled for the near future, and the Corps of Engineers have put in a bridge heading to trails north of the main area - extending the 50-acre main area by an additional 30 acres.
At the Mutt Run, dogs are free to run about, chase each other and explore the various trails leading off of the main area. In addition to animal interaction, the park encourages "socialization for people and dogs alike," according to Sue Vernon, Lawrence. Vernon brings her black lab, Maggie, to the park nearly every day.
Mark Witt, also of Lawrence, brings his three dogs out to "just romp." he claimed to come out mainly for the dogs, "but it's nice to walk around" his daughter Anna added.
The human socialization factor, in addition to the exercise, makes the "Mutt Run" an excellent way to spend some time. Yilan Shen, Lawrence resident and one of the founding members of LDOGS, explains that the best thing about the park is that it causes "different diverse people to get together and the only thing really you have in common is that you have dogs."
Upwards of two dozen dogs will be there at the busiest times - just after the afternoon rush hour as people get off from work, and from about 7-9 p.m. At other times, it is not unusual for a dog-human pair to have the park all to themselves.