By Ginny Sinclair and Tendayi Gwata
Images Lana Photographer
The Wag Zone Dog Park(TWZDP) is Zimbabwe’s first dog playground where socialized dogs can frolic and play while their owners meet, converse and make friends. Our business model is to improve the park and donate any extra earnings to animal protection organizations such as Friends Foundation, Twala Trust, and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).
The concept was first initiated by Ginny Sinclair, who later partnered with her long-time friend Tendayi Gwata, a breast cancer survivor, to establish the recreational park for dogs and their owners. Apart from the different games offered to the dogs within the park, Ginny and Tendayi work tirelessly to make sure the experience for every dog and its owner is a memorable one.
The checking-in process requires one to read and sign the rules and indemnity forms. Vaccination certificates are checked to ensure all dogs are up to date. They use a prepaid punch card payment system. After; the dogs are then placed in an unleashing zone where they are taken off their leads. The collars remain on the dogs and the leads are removed. The dogs’ collars should have their names and owners’ phone numbers attached with a special band. Once the process is done, they can enter the park.
Their facilities include 3 large shallow ponds, a lawned area in the shape of Zimbabwe with Kariba being a sandpit for the dogs and children to play in. We have clean toilets, seating areas, trees, and an agility course for the dogs.
The park is closed on Monday due to dog training sessions by trainers. Training ranges from obedience and manners to canine (K9) guard dog training; this is the only time dogs are allowed on a lead in the park. Every Wednesday morning from 8-9 am is puppy playtime hour, where a trainer assists with problematic issues or gives the advice to correct bad behaviors before they become ingrained. Socializing the puppies means the owners will have happy healthy dogs going forward.
What happens if you are not sure how your dog will behave in the park?
Tendayi and Ginny allow new non-aggressive dogs to walk a few laps on one side of the pond on the lead. This calms the over-excited dog and when the owner is sure their dog will not cause any problems the lead is removed.
What happens when the dreaded dog fight happens?
Dogs that exhibit aggressive behavior before they enter the unleashing zone are denied entry. Ginny and Tendayi are very strict as they are protecting the socialized, playful dogs within the park. Dogs behave very differently on lead and off lead. When on a lead they feel they have to protect their owner or vice-versa hence a level of aggression. If a fight occurs the owners would need to jointly cradle their dogs’ waists and lift their dogs’ back legs off the ground. By doing this, the dogs lose their traction, let go and turn to see what has happened. Both owners will then pull the dogs apart, grab their collars and walk in opposite directions.
How much does this cost?
A prepaid punch card is $20 and the owner’s entry fee is $2 for each visit (pensioners and children under 4yrs old enter for free). The dog’s entry fee is $1 per day. There are other options, $50 monthly or $120 annual which allows unlimited access for 2 dog owners and up to 3 dogs. Annual tickets are limited to 20 per year.
What events can you expect?
The Dog Box Café is a new addition with breakfast and lunches available daily, as well as a coffee cart stationed at the park. In the future, they would like to start other events that are eco-friendly. Follow them on Facebook or Instagram under ‘thewagzonezw’ .
Originally published in the 7th Ndeipi Issue