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Dog park has official opening in Cottage Grove

Sure, Ellen Nelson Edwards and Dick Swanson like the new WAG Farms Dog Park. But, more importantly: What do their pooches think?

"They've both given it their tail wag of approval, I guess you could say," Nelson Edwards said. "It makes it all worth it when you see that."

It was a long time coming for the two Cottage Grove dog park advocates, who poured more than a half-decade of hard work into making the off-leash dog park a reality.

Now, finally, the city's first park where pooches can run free is ready to mark its grand opening on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., with a ribbon cutting ceremony and other events celebrating the park.

Located on Glendenning Road, just off 95th Street and Jamaica Avenue south of Highway 61, the WAG Farms Dog Park -- named after the owners of the land, the William A. Glendenning family, who leased it to the city for $1-a-year -- has quietly been open to the public since mid-June. And user reviews -- at least from those on two legs -- have been good, Nelson Edwards said.

"I'm beyond thrilled -- and still somewhat in disbelief that this day is actually here since it has taken so long," she said. "It's amazing to see people finally out there using it, and dogs running around. It's really rewarding."

After failing to convince Washington County officials to help make a large-scale dog park a reality, Nelson Edwards and Swanson turned to the city of Cottage Grove. City officials last year helped them secure land, and the two have spearheaded fundraising efforts with their WAG Farms Dog Park Association to get the park open to the public.

The city will perform some park maintenance, but the bulk of park upkeep will fall to the roughly 25-member dog park association.

"It's definitely been a combination [of] both sides, Nelson Edwards said. "We've worked really well together to make it a real usable space."

The hilly, wild 14-acre park is encircled by some 4,000 feet of fencing and features wide open prairie and wooded trails for canines and owners to roam, and a gated pond that dogs can take a dip in. There's also fenced-off area for smaller dogs to play.

It all adds up, Nelson Edwards says, to a place close to home that will make dogs -- and their owners -- a lot happier.

"Its huge," she said. "It makes such a big difference in their quality of life to be able to get out there and run and socialize with other dogs."