Molly McGee, 5, is a yellow Lab rescued by Christine Lavigne.
"She was all beaten up," said Lavigne, 63, of Clearwater.
These days, Molly spends a lot of time happily sniffing out new faces and tails at the recently opened Enterprise Dog Park.
"It's one of the best things to ever happen to her in her life," said Lavigne. "I can't thank the person enough who decided to do this."
Actually, thank the city of Clearwater.
By using a $200,000 state grant, $200,000 worth of recreation impact fees and some land donated years ago by a developer, the city converted a swampy wetland area into an attractive dog park that is making quite a splash among the four-footed breeds and their human companions.
"We love it," said Teri Caley of Dunedin, who took her sheltie, Piper, to practice on the agility equipment. "We go jogging around the tracks, so it's good for people, too."
The total cost of the pet playground was $460,000, with the extra $60,000 coming from the city's general fund.
The recreation area, which opened Dec. 18 at 2671 Enterprise Road, is constructed on a 20-acre tract.
About two-thirds is wetlands and the rest, the uplands, create a bone-shaped dog park.
Oaks, pine trees and saw palmettos are abundant. There are also a few mucky ponds, created from rainwater, that hounds love to romp and roll in.
The park was to be completed in two phases but Art Kader, assistant director of parks and recreation, said, "We were able to stretch the funds and get it done."
At one end is a retention pond that turns into a bonus wading pool for the dogs during heavy rains. An enclosed agility area features equipment like short tunnels, dog walks and a table.
In the center of the park, a 70-foot wooden bridge leads to a series of looped trails in the back.
During a recent visit, the dogs bounded through the water, chased each other over expansive rolling grounds and trotted over the bridge.
"Here all the 'kids' get to play in the same place," said Billy Carter, 67, of Dunedin. "They are free to run and roam, big and small together."
That was the plan, said Kader.
"We wanted a beautiful forested area with a rustic feel that wouldn't be broken up into dog runs for various sizes.''
Based on feedback from the public, it's been a tremendous success, he said.
"Our biggest problem is the parking; it's more popular than we thought," Kader said. The city is looking at additional options to supplement the 35 spaces.
During a recent visit, one of the fountains was out of order and an agility hoop looked like it was installed upside down. Kader said those issues were being addressed.
City Council member John Doran, who lives on Clearwater Beach, said he often brings his Labradoodle, Chloe, 5, to the park.
"It's worth the drive," he said. "We're just as pleased as we can be."