FORT WORTH — It’s been 70 dog years of chasing balls and wagging tails since Fort Woof Dog Park opened in 2004, so the people involved decided to throw a party Saturday for the city’s most-visited park.Dog Day in the Park, an on-leash event that starts at 10 a.m., will include food vendors, dog races, costume competitions, dog supply and healthcare vendors, a bounce house for kids and trick shows in Gateway Park to celebrate Fort Woof’s 10th birthday.“Our pets have become our family members and we really value them as companions. This is just going to be an opportunity to celebrate a great spot for our families, including our dogs,” said Jason Smith, president of the Fort Worth Dog Park Association.Sasha, an Australian shepherd “voted” mayor of Fort Woof, visited the City Council on Tuesday as members recognized the dog park’s birthday. “We are tremendously blessed to have our dog park,” said Councilman Danny Scarth, who added that when Fort Woof was planned, he wasn’t yet on the council and initially thought that it was a dumb idea. Then, he said, he attended his first Barktoberfest, an annual fundraiser at the park, and realized how popular the park is. “I had to park three soccer fields away because there were so many people pulled in there and everybody was parking on the grass. And I have never seen so many people in my life at a city park,” Scarth said. “And today, it is the most-used-per-square-foot park that we have in the city,” Scarth said. The American Pet Products Association predicts that Americans will spend $58 billion on their pets this year, up from $55 billion last year and $17 billion 20 years ago. Daily admission is free to the nearly 5-acre park, which has separate areas for large and small dogs. The Fort Worth Dog Park Association has raised over $50,000 for improvements to the park since 2004, adding agility courses, a shaded pavilion and lighting.Fort Woof was named the top dog park in the nation in 2006 by Dog Fancy magazine and Novartis Animal Health and has continued to attract national recognition. Now, Smith said, the association is focusing its efforts on the proposed dog park at Z Boaz Park, which would help relieve some of the traffic at Fort Woof. Z Boaz Park has $500,000 in improvements proposed as part of the $292 million bond package going to voters in the May 10 election.
Caty Hirst, 817-390-7984 Twitter: @catyhirst