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K9 Cola prepares for eventful 2018
by Nancy Grindle Correspondent · January 11th, 2018

Marion residents are fortunate to have an off-leash dog park just south of town. It is a large area where you can take Fido and let him/her run off the leash but still in a safe space.

The nonprofit organization which supports and promotes the park is K9 Cola. K9 Cola has worked very hard for many years to create this safe environment.

Dave Paris, Chairman of the Board of Directors, shared information about K9 Acres and directed us to the new website for both of its off-leash areas. The Board and its volunteers had a very successful year in 2017. Paris told us about some of the major accomplishments that occurred during that time:

Two pavilions had been purchased in 2016 and they were dedicated in 2017. Family and friends of Ericka Fry attended the dedication for them at K9 Acres. The Fry family contributed to the pavilions and their daughter's and dog Murphy's legacy will be remembered permanently there.

The website was completely redesigned during the 2017 Operation Overnight event hosted by Geonetrics (

A new storage shed was purchased for Cheyenne Park, the other off-leash area. It replaces one lost in the 2008 flood.

Paris mentioned a number of the projects which are being planned for 2018:

More trees will be planted at K9 Acres.

A kiosk is needed at K9 Acres to help provide information to park users.

Signage and a kiosk will hopefully be purchased in 2018 for Cheyenne Park.

The pavilion at Cheyenne - which was lost to the group's use when boundaries were changed - can now be reclaimed. The cost is expected to be between $8,000 and $10,000.

Users of both parks need to have a park permit. These can be purchased at the City Services Center in Cedar Rapids or online. An immunization record for the dog must be provided. The permit costs $32 for a year.

However, a discount of $5 is available under various circumstances: 1) if the dog is spayed or neutered, 2) if permits are purchased for more than one dog, or 3) if the dog has passed the K9 Cola recall test.

A dog owner can get up to a $10 discount by fulfilling two of three of the above items.

Recall tests are announced on the website and take place a number of times each year. Once passed, the test is good for the life of the dog.

K9 Cola raises money to support the dog parks in a number of ways. One way is the sale of dog-related items (such as home-made dog biscuits) at farmers' markets during the summer. Another is the K9 Splash, a dog swim event which has become hugely popular at Bever Pool each August.

And the organization appreciates any level of donations. Some of the donation levels have doggy names:

Rescue Dog -- $25

Prize Pup -- $50

Happy Dog -- $100

Obedient Dog -- $250

Grand Champion Dog -- $500

Best in Show -- $1,000

The Board of Directors for 2018 consists of a number of people who have served or volunteered a great deal over the past years, and a number of people who are new to the board. There is a chairman (Paris), vice-chair (Ken Ennis), secretaries (Dianna and Andrew Forman) and treasurer (Jill Monk).

In addition to these officers are site coordinators at each park (Juan Arredondo at Cheyenne and Terry Foley at K9 Acres), volunteer coordinator (Kelly Ennis), and two at-large members (Bob Schell and Jacob Young).

The organization provides education to the community about off-leash areas and to individuals about dog training and responsible dog ownership.

The organization also supports dog rescue groups and other canine-related events and nonprofits.

Volunteers are always welcome to help and guests are always welcome at the monthly meetings (first Tuesday, Cedar Rapids Downtown Library).

To contact the Board, you are welcome to email or browse the K9 Cola website. Or the mailing address is K9 Cola, P.O. Box 992, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52406.

If you are unsure whether you would like to take your canine buddy to the off-leash area, you can drive out to K9 Acres and take a look at the park. On the right is a small dog area (15 inches tall or less at the shoulder); on the left is a training area where you can work with your dog; and between them is a lane which leads to a big pasture area with a walking trail and various amenities such as benches.

One thing you will notice is that the humans have fun talking with others as much as the dogs have running about with their canine buddies.
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