Today was Sonya’s day! We’re in Bradenton, on the Gulf Coast of Florida, through the holidays. Earlier this week we visited our favorite place, Ana Maria Island, and were disappointed to find out that Manatee County beaches are not dog friendly. It was beginning to look like a grim two weeks for Sonya until David searched the Internet for off-leash dog parks in the area. Several were listed for neighboring Sarasota County. And one of them was described as having access to the Intracoastal Waterway. Why not make it a special day for all three of us – a dog park for Sonya and a scenic drive for us!
Sonya was in doggy heaven in 17th Street Paw Park (4510 17th Street in Sarasota), where she ran to her heart’s content on the fenced, expansive, grassy turf. The park is owner-friendly, too, with shaded picnic tables and benches to rest and converse while the pets romp. It also has water stations, an agility training playground and a separate fenced area for small dogs. The park is open sunup to sundown.
After Sonya tired herself out, we drove through Sarasota and across the Intracoastal Waterway toward Longboat Key. We strolled around chic St. Armand’s Circle to window-shop and people-watch while Sonya restored her energy with a nap. (It had been two weeks since her last full-out run.) Then we followed directions to the dog park on the Intracoastal Waterway near Mote Marine Aquarium in Ken Thompson Park.
We searched for signs of an off-leash dog area to no avail. There weren’t even any dogs around! But there also were no signs saying “no dogs.” After checking out the grounds, we let Sonya off-leash at the water’s edge. The pelicans intrigued her. And she got to play in the water.
When David saw a police car driving through the park, he flagged it down and inquired whether it was OK to have our dog off-leash. The officer responded, “I see dogs running around here all the time,” and that when dog owners ask where they can take their pooches, he directs them to this park. That was good enough for us.
On our way out, we noticed an area near a fishing pier with “scoop” bags and a “dogs OK” sign next to a long list of things not OK, like alcohol. Nothing says it’s an off-leash area. But nothing says that dogs have to be on a leash either. We’ll let ourselves be guided by the police officer’s reply.
Hurray! Here’s a place where Sonya can both run free and have a Gulf Coast “beach” experience of sorts. We’ll be back.
P. S. What do you think?
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