As the morning peeks over the houses and filters into Vinewood Dog Park, the morning crew is already gathered. Cookie, a labrador/pit bull mix, is running, chasing every bird that touches the ground or flies over her. Her owner, Dennis Grammer, of Lodi, says she is the mayor of the park.
ChaCha, an Alaskan Malamute, noses around in the dewy grasses as the sun begins to warm the day.
Oliver and Violet, a pair of airedales, greet everyone and enjoy themselves under the Redwood trees in the park. You have to watch Oliver, though, as he sniffs a bag looking for anything to sneak away — treats, toys.
"You'll have to watch him. He'll put anything in his mouth," says owner Yvonne Beadsworth, who sits on the ground with her other pooches, a Bichon/poodle mix named Chloe and Tink, a yorkie. Beadsworth talks to other owners at the gate of the dog park.
The owners' conversations touch on the dogs and then blend to their day-to-day lives. Not only is it a time that the pups get to socialize, but so do the owners.
As one pair leaves, another arrives. Greetings of noses-to-tails are exchanged, and the games begin.
On another morning, on the other side of the park, Lucy, a 16-month-old chocolate lab, gallops after a ball thrown by her owner, Mike Foucher, of Lodi. He likes the park because he can really tire her out and she won't mess anything up at home.
"It ends the workday. We come here, chill out and I get to watch the pooch run around," said Foucher.
Also at the park is Rose, an English Bull Terrier, and her owner, Nick Quiorz, of Lodi. He says going to the dog park is the most relaxing part of his day.
"(Rose) loves the park. She's super social and is never aggressive. She loves the people just as much as the dogs," Quiorz said.
They have been coming ever since she finished her shots two years ago.
Quiorz's job takes him from Tracy to Manteca and surrounding areas.
"They have dog parks, but none really designated as a dog park. Lodi has the biggest, nicest, greenest park," he said, adding that even it's five degrees cooler at Vinewood park.
According to the American Kennel Club (www.akc.org/canine_legislation/dogpark.cfm), a dog park benefits a community by allowing dogs to exercise and socialize safely. The parks are enclosed and allow the canines to roam and play without hurting themselves by running in the street or other dangers.
It promotes responsible dog ownership. It allows a place for the dogs to run without infringing on small children, runners and those who may have a fear of dogs.
The parks also provide an outlet for dog owners to socialize, thus creating a community of people with like interests to share ideas or experiences to aid in the care of their own dogs.
The club also says that "dog parks make for a better community by promoting public health and safety because a well-exercised dog is less likely to cause a nuisance, bark excessively and destroy property. Their presence in the park along with their owners also helps to deter crime."
Dog parks in Lodi
Vinewood Park, located on Virginia Ave. The park is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The park is fenced.
Beckman Park, located at 1426 W Century Blvd. The hours of the park are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The park is fenced.
Lawrence Park, located at 350 N. Washington Street. The hours are dawn to dusk. The park is not fenced.
Dogs are not permitted in the other city parks. Dogs may be walked at Lodi Lake, but must be leashed at all times. The lake is open from dawn to dusk.
Park rules and regulations noted by signs at the entrance include shutting the gate behind yourself. Owners/handlers assume full responsibility for their animals and must clean up after them. The owners/handlers are required to have proof of current rabies vaccination available and to produce it upon request, according to the Lodi Municipal Code.
Galt’s dog park
Monterey Dog Park — Galt Bark Park
Lake Park Ave. and Monterey Bay Ct., Galt
This three-acre dog park has as separate small dog area, agility equipment, sculptures, grass, trees and drinking water.
This park can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Galt-CA/GALT-BARK-PARK/316403230899.