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Path attracts furry friends





Pet owners might not dwell on the Hays Dog Park's new sidewalk, but the recent addition is a testament to the love canines inspire in people.

The rust-colored concrete path, dotted with dog paw imprints, is a celebration of the late Vickie J. Cole's life, said Tom Cole, her husband. The memorial provides park visitors comfort because they do not have to walk on the parking lot's gravel surface.

The path's color matches the ball fields at nearby Bickle-Schmidt Sports Complex, said Jeff Boyle, Hays parks director.

Cole said the path was paid for by his wife's memorial fund. The sidewalk is a tangible sign of his wife's compassion for homeless and mistreated dogs.

"There's nobody in this city that has done more for dogs than Vickie," he said.

The couple founded Smoky Hill Golden Retriever Club in 1999, and they began rescuing all breeds in 2009. The pair joined the Colorado Animal Rescue Express, a series of travel stops along routes for dogs being transported to rescue and adoptive homes. Cole continues to receive and care for the dogs before they continue their journey.

There are plans for shrubs, flowers, red cinder and mulch to be installed on the path in a few weeks to improve the aesthetics of the park's entrance.

Boyle said the dog park has been a hit with users.

"As a community as a whole, especially dog lovers, it's been an overwhelming success," he said.

Kim Perez, president of Friends of the Hays Dog Park, said the group will seek to include more benches, trees for shade and shelters during the third phase of construction. The park's popularity reflects well on local owners, she said.

"I think it says that a lot of people are interested in properly socializing and exercising their dogs," Perez said. "We have a lot of really responsible dog owners."