Dog park opens in Rapho Twp.

By on November 9, 2016

For Carla Douple and Lynn McCleary, Tuesday, Nov. 1 was a banner day. Their dream of opening a dog park in Rapho Township Community Park, 960 Strickler Road, was realized when Dog Park Mount Joy officially opened to canine guests and their owners.

Located off the Heatherwood Drive parking area of the 30-acre township park, the dog park is a public-private partnership between Rapho Township and Dog Park Mount Joy, which was founded by Douple and McCleary. The three-acre dog park sits on two-acres of park land and an acre leased from Cornerstone Development.

Douple, a Landisville veterinarian and a Rapho resident, and McCleary, a Mount Joy resident, first approached Rapho Township officials with their proposal for a three-acre dog park in June 2013.

“It took a while to make this happen, but we did it right,” Douple said, “So many dogs have not been off-leash except in their homes, so this dog park is an opportunity to for them to run and play with other dogs.”

“It’s also a good way to meet your neighbors and other dog owners,” McCleary added. “I know a number of dogs by their name, but through our effort with the dog park, now I also know their owners, too.”

The dog park is fenced and gated. Access is by a key card that’s available to Dog Park Mount Joy members. A dual-level drinking fountain in the brick vestibule area features traditional-looking drinking fountain for people and a bowl-like lower area for their furry friends. There are separate fenced areas for smaller dogs and larger dogs. A bulletin board for announcements about activities at the dog park will be constructed in the next month.

“Hats off to Dog Park Mount Joy — they made it happen. This is what a public-private partnership is all about,” said Rapho supervisor Jere Swarr. “There’s no other dog park in the northwest area of the county, so it’s great for our residents and residents from other parts of the county.”

Dog Park Mount Joy adjoins several residential developments and walking trails around the township park connect to those developments.

And their little dogs, too!  This family went all-out (and over the rainbow) during the Mutt Strutt, held Oct. 23 at the Mount Joy Dog Park. The park officially opened to members on Nov. 1 (Photo from

And their little dogs, too! This family went all-out (and over the rainbow) during the Mutt Strutt, held Oct. 23 at the Mount Joy Dog Park. The park officially opened to members on Nov. 1 (Photo from

“I live around the corner and watched this dog park being built,” said Jason Graboski, who was at the dog park with his dog, Carly.

Like Graboski, Dr. Albert Price and his wife, Beverly, live in a neighboring development. The couple were at the dog park with Lydia, a greyhound they adopted week ago from greyhound rescue.

“It’s interesting to see the difference in the play routines of the different dogs — some are herders, while others like to run,” Dr. Price said.

Beverly Price explained that Lydia is their tenth greyhound. Prior to loving to Rapho Township, the couple lived in Manheim Township and took their greyhounds to Overlook Dog Park. Before Dog Park Mount Joy opened, the couple walked their dogs using the trails in Rapho’s community park.

Barb and Russ Woodling also live near the dog park and have taken their two dogs — Olivia, who is a service dog for Russ, and Birkenstock — to a dog park in Ocean City, Md.

“Dogs at a dog park are like kids at recess,” Barb Woodling said with a smile. “When they’re released from their leash, they run and play.”

The dog park is also being used by residents from other areas. Annie Ritsch of Elizabethtown brought her dog, Frankie, to play in the park.

“I love how open it is, Ritsch said.

“We have a large yard, but it’s not fenced in, so we can’t really let our dog run,” added Debbie Ronning, another Elizabethtown resident. “It’s so different than walking the dog; often she pulls on the leash, now she can run.”

Part of the funding for the estimated $150,000 project is from a state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant of $60,000. Douple explained that additional funds were raised for the dog park through numerous fundraisers including dinners and sales of memorial bricks that will be placed in the dog park vestibule.

Although Dog Park Mount Joy just opened, there are some enhancements planned. McCleary said that benches and additional landscaping will be added in the spring. A pavilion is planned to open by summer 2017. McCleary said that students from the construction clusters of Lancaster County Career & Technology Center’s Mount Joy campus will do the construction and the dog park will provide materials.

For more information about Dog Park Mount Joy, visit or the organization’s Facebook page.

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at

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