New amenities fetch dog lovers’ attention

Samantha, a Labrador retriever, plays at Dudley Canine Park, which opened in April in the Village of DeSoto.

Residents who enjoy The Villages lifestyle with their four-legged friends will soon have another option to explore. Rupert Canine Park, scheduled to open in spring 2019, will be the community’s sixth dog-focused recreation area. Plans show it will be in the Village of Linden, adjacent to River Bend Recreation Area. “These additional amenities coming online allow a place to gather to socialize for both dogs and owners,” said John Rohan, director of recreation and parks for The Villages Community Development Districts. “The popularity of dog parks is a great fit, another venue to enjoy the lifestyle with others with similar interests.” Dog parks are among the fastest growing amenities in park systems around the country, according to the Trust for Public Land.  In the past year alone, America has added 5 percent more dog parks in its 100 largest cities. In the past decade, that increase is 40 percent.

In The Villages, Rupert will be the third dog park in the expanding region south of 466A. Dudley Canine Park opened in April on Fenney Way in the Village of DeSoto, and Atlas opened in September 2015, on Moyer Loop.

The other three dog parks in The Villages are spread throughout the community.

Paradise Dog Park is in the northern part of The Villages, east of the golf cart bridge that crosses U.S. Highway 27/441. Mulberry Dog Park is near the Village of Springdale. And Brinson/Perry is on Bonita Boulevard, near Public Safety Station 51.

Carmen Tedrick, leader of the Dynamic Dog Club, a therapy dog group, said the District has done a great job welcoming dog owners to the community.

“Dogs are social creatures,” Tedrick said. “They like to get out and have fun just like we do.”

Jackie Knight, of the Village of Hemingway, enjoys the amenities with her Labrador/poodle mix, Chewie.

“We need a space to exercise our puppies, and the dog parks offer a sense of camaraderie for fellow dog owners,” she said.

Maddie Cutler is a staff writer with The Villages Daily Sun. She can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5386, or maddie.cutler@thevillagesmedia.com.