Brenda Rettke and her springer spaniel-lab mix Tundra -- decked out in a Darth Vader costume -- made their first official walk around the loop of the new Lake McKenzie Dog Park on Wednesday.

"We have a big back yard now, but still (want) better socialization and meeting other people with dogs,  Rettke said. "In your own backyard you only meet yourself."

She lives near the airport, but probably will bring Tundra to the fenced-in park at 1691 Bryan Stock Trail to let Tundra cut loose.

The park is a welcome addition for Casper, Rettke said. She had recently moved from Washington state, saying, "it's so dog-friendly there."

Casper Mayor Paul Meyer and councilwoman Kenyne Schlager formally opened the park by cutting the ribbon to the west-side gate, and the dogs, some decked in Halloween costumes, lit out to play on the path, the dirt and gravel, and in Lake McKenzie itself.
Cheryl Metzger came with her miniature pinscher Coco in miniature Western garb.
Mariah Sharee was resplendent in red dress and black cape as Little Red Riding Hood, with her Siberian husky Loki as The Wolf.
And Dawn and Eric Anderson-Coates brought their golden retriever Quigley, whose costume was a cardboard box kissing booth. After slurping water from the ground-level water fountain, Quigley sat in the box. Kisses were free.
Metro Animal Services showed some of the dogs eligible for adoption. Likewise, The Pet Ring Foundation and Pound Puppies also showed some of the adoptable dogs from Metro.
Like Rettke, the Anderson-Coates live on the west side of town but like the idea of an east-side dog park.

City Parks Manager Dan Coryell said citizens had approached the city about the need for a fenced, leash-free area for dogs. A lot of people use Morad Park to walk their dogs, but it is unfenced, he said.

"We were looking for different areas to come up with an idea for a new dog park," Coryell said. "(We) had six or seven different options to begin with a couple years ago, and this one continued to stick. It was close to the water and had easy access from the interstate (highway)."
The two-acre park is surrounded by a six-foot-high fence with double-gated entrances. The double gates prevent dogs from being inadvertently let out of the park, said Beth Andress of Keep Casper Beautiful.
Inside, the park contains a walking path, benches, access to Lake McKenzie, poop bag stations, and dog drinking fountains.
The $332,680 Lake McKenzie Dog Park was built with $232,680 from the Optional One Cent Sales Tax and with $100,000 from County Consensus funding from the State of Wyoming, Coryell said.