HAVERHILL — Riverside Park has gone to the dogs — literally.
Well, at least part of the park.
And it's a delight for the pets and their owners.
Now that Haverhill's long-awaited dog park has been open for a few weeks, pet owners say it's a great place to let their dogs run free and socialize.
But not every dog wants to be cut loose among other dogs, as some are just too shy or afraid. So for them, Riverside Park also offers nearly a mile of paved paths where they can get some exercise — while on a leash of course.
Regina Esposito of Bradford stopped by Riverside Park recently to walk her sister's two dogs when she noticed the city's new dog park. The fenced-in area is about 130 feet long and 50 feet wide and is near the back parking lot behind Trinity Stadium. It's away from most of Riverside Park's hustle and bustle and next to a wooded area.
The city spent $6,200 for fencing and signs, said Mayor James Fiorentini, who recently celebrated the opening of the dog park.
The city included a "pet waste station" where dog owners can obtain free bags. There's also a container for disposing of bags.
After many unsuccessful attempts in recent years, the city finally opened its first dog park late last month.
The area gives dog owners a place to let their pets run leash-free inside a gated, five-foot-tall fence that protects dogs from humans, and vice versa, and gives them a safe environment to play, Fiorentini said.
Esposito was out walking a chihuahua-mix named Lola and a toy poodle named Gia. She was the only person at the dog park at the time.
"I brought them into the dog park and let go of them, but Lola was too scared so she stayed next to me," Esposito said.