‘Dog-meet-dog’ world at Ramstein park

Monica Mendoza
Kaiserslautern American

Like a coffee house in a small town, a T-ball field turned dog park on Ramstein is the social gathering place to be.

Every day in the late afternoon, the regulars meet up: Josie the border collie, Dante the German shepherd, and Ciara and Phebe the black labradors. There are anywhere from 12 to 20 dogs – and their owners – in this unique group of friends and more discovering the dog park every day. The dogs play frisbee, chase balls and run like children.

“We go there every single day,” said Jude Denton, owner of two black labs. “It’s very lovely. We have a nice group of friends.”

Around the U.S., dog parks have become popular in the past two decades as those specially designated places where Fido can run off his leash. Other U.S. Air Forces in Europe bases have opened dog parks too.

Park Rules

–Dogs must be leashed when entering or leaving the park.
–Owners must remain in the fenced area with their dog while the dog is off leash.
–Dogs must be in view and within voice control of the owner.
–Owners must carry a leash with them at all times while in the park.
–Dogs showing signs of aggression must be leashed and immediately removed from the park.
–No dogs under age four months, or those who have not received a complete round of vaccinations.
–No food in the park.
–Children must be at least nine-years-old to accompany their dog without an adult.
–Bring a pooper scooper to remove all doggie waste.
–Wondering if your dog is ready to run? Check out this article at www.perfectpaws.com/offleash.html.

KMC resident Karina Kieper says the Ramstein Dog Park is a good place for dog owners to exchange puppy-raising tips and get information on local kennels and supply stores. She takes her high-energy labrador puppy Maya to the park six days a week for a good run.

“Everyone shares everything they know,” Ms. Kieper said. “It’s a dog owner’s best friend.”

A KMC dog owner phoned Col. Kurt Lohide, 435th Air Base Wing commander, last summer during his weekly “Inside the KMC” AFN radio show with the idea of opening a dog park on Ramstein. The 435th Civil Engineer Group and Youth and Community Program officials said a T-ball field in the Ramstein housing area would fit the bill. They would open the dog park on a trial basis, said Dorothy Choate, youth and community program manager.

“We did some online research and came up with some rules – the main one is to help us keep the park clean,” Ms. Choate said.

The 435th CEG folks made a sign and put out plastic bags for doggie waste. No one dreamed the patch of land with a few bleachers would become such a social scene.

“I have to say that this park is far above anything I could have imagined,” said Ellen Becker, who takes her dog Dante there often. “It is a pleasure to watch Dante play and interact and overall enjoy the company of others.”

For now, the T-ball field will remain a dog park, said Glenn Meyer, 435th CEG deputy commander. But, CE is exploring a permanent home for the dog park.
“The response and the use of the facility has been tremendous,” Mr. Meyer said.

Ramstein Dog Park is located at Woods Field, on Illinois Street between Bldgs. 1107 and 1108.