August 23, 2016

By Brianna Bailey

YUKON — The new dog park tucked behind the OnCue Express off Interstate 40 is a little green oasis for the gas station's four-legged customers.

Coco and Chuck McBurney, of Upland, Calif., stopped Wednesday to give Sadie, their 2-year-old poodle-terrier mix, some exercise. The couple were driving through Oklahoma on their way to North Carolina. 

Sadie wagged her tail and ran in circles around the fenced-in dog park, taking occasional breaks to lap up water in the August heat. 

"We've stopped other places trying to find a place to walk her, and I can tell she feels rushed," Coco McBurney said. "Here, her tail was just going the whole time, so I could tell she was relaxed." 

The fenced dog park includes separate areas for large and small dogs, as well as watering troughs, shaded areas, faux fire hydrants and an agility course with ramps and other toys for dogs to climb and jump through.   

Stillwater-based gas station chain OnCue also has opened a dog park at its travel stop off Interstate 35 in Billings. Both the Yukon and Billings dog parks feature oversized statues of dogs to attract attention from highway travelers. 

“We have operated truck stops for decades and anyone who has ever been to a truck stop has seen people race out with their dogs and run to the nearest grassy spot, so it just kind of made sense,” said Bob Palmer, CEO for OnCue. 

Positive reaction

The response to the new dog parks has been so positive that OnCue plans to add dog areas to other travel stops wherever possible, primarily at stores off interstate highways, Palmer said. 

Yukon has long been lacking a dog park, so the OnCue location has proved popular for local dog owners as well as travelers, said Rick Colbert, general manager for OnCue. 

“It has been amazing — everyone has thanked us for putting it in the Yukon area,” Colbert said. 

OnCue is in expansion mode in Oklahoma and plans to open eight new stores by the end of the year. 

With a new location at NW 10 and Portland opening this week, OnCue will have 66 stores in Oklahoma. 

Traveling across the country, Joshua and Victoria Williams, of Potsdam, N.Y, said they've had trouble finding safe places to let their 1-year-old retriever-shepherd mix Fozi stretch his legs without a leash. 

Fozi roamed the dog park sniffing to his heart's content and also chased a tennis ball on Wednesday. 

“He seems to see a pretty big fan of it,” Victoria Williams said.

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