A dog has had its day at Gainesville golf course

Puppy, a black labrador retriever/mix, has become a staple at Ironwood Golf Course during the past three years becoming friends with golfers while having mostly free roam of the city-owned course. After complaints of snarling at children, course officials fear the dog might be a threat and are resigned to send the dog to animal control if nobody steps up to adopt the dog.

ROB C. WITZEL/ The Gainesville Sun
Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 18, 2005 at 11:31 p.m.
A pooch called "Puppy" can't hole up at the Ironwood Golf Course any longer, even though she has oodles of golfing buddies.
The black dog, which looks to be a Labrador retriever mix, sauntered up about three years ago and charmed golfers, volunteers and staff kind of the way the skittish wolf, "Two Socks," did with Kevin Costner in the movie, "Dances With Wolves."
But "Puppy," which many presume was beaten or mistreated at some point in her life, snarled at some children a week or so ago.
Now golf course managers say she has got to go and they have threatened to have her carted off by animal control officers if she isn't adopted.
Long-time golfers and staff members, who have grown attached to the animal, are distraught.
"She's part of this course," golfer Al Nazworth said of the dog he has come to know as "Blackie." Others call her "Black Dog."
"That's the worst thing they could do for public relations at this course," he said shaking his head in disbelief.
Nazworth recommends barring the people the dog snarled at from the course.
On Tuesday, "Puppy," a name which course officials had engraved on a medallion for a collar they bought her, staked out the first tee visiting golfers bold or crazy enough to brave the brisk weather.
She scampered into the woods, seemingly in fear when a Sun photographer approached with a camera.
"I've never known her to be mean," said Elwood Baker, a part-time pastor at Santa Fe Baptist Church and a volunteer on the course. "Everybody looks forward to seeing her out here."
Although initially a squatter, "Puppy" gained a home at Ironwood. Staff members buy her food. A dog dish has been placed on the patio. Course regulars, including Elwyn Robinson, who paired up with Nazworth for a game Tuesday, bring her treats. Some bring her food everyday, Baker said.
"She's not really fussy about what she eats," Baker said.
Bill Iwinski, the course manager, himself reluctant to have "Puppy" taken away, brought in a local veterinarian to give her a check-up and boosters on all of her shots. When it rains or the temperatures dip, staffers let "Puppy" inside.
"We love her," Iwinski said. "We just don't need to take a chance. She needs to be where she's not around thousands of people."
Adoption efforts have thus far been unsuccessful.
"Puppy" is a loner, roaming where she wants and when she wants. Assistant golf pro Jonah Spring said the dog is uncomfortable around children and won't take a leash.
The vet even had to tranquilize her in order to conduct an exam and administer vaccinations.
"Puppy's" days of roaming free at the city-owned course on NW 39th Avenue are numbered, Iwinski said.
"We can't have a dog baring her teeth," Iwinski said.
Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan learned of the dog situation at Ironwood from The Sun.
"I wish we had a solution," Hanrahan said. "We certainly support the notion of every pet having a happy home."
For more information on "Puppy," call Ironwood at 334-3120.
Janine Young Sikes can be reached at (352) 337-0327 or sikesj@gvillesun.com.

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