By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Jed, Lincoln and their fellow canines get their dog park in Warren County next week.
County officials plan to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new dog park at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Eastham Park at the end of Luray Avenue. The event is open to the public and their pets. Speakers include Board of Supervisors Chairman Archie Fox and Kelly Walker, president of the Warren County Dog Park Association.
The dog park, which stretches 2/10 of a mile along the Shenandoah River, consists of a 0.75 acre area for smaller, timid or older dogs and a separate 1.90 acres larger dogs. Each area is enclosed by a wooden fence. Owners or custodians enter either section via a dual-gated area which allows the person to walk in, unleash the dog, then let the animal run free. Work also is underway to install a water fountain for adults, children and pets.
The opening of the park culminates five years of organizing, fundraising and collaborative efforts between the non-profit association and the county.
"I had an idea that we really needed a dog park," Walker said Friday. "I don't have children and I have dogs [named Jed and Lincoln] so I wanted a place for my hairy children to go play"
Jed is a black Labrador-Bassett mix. Lincoln is a terrier mix. Both are rescue dogs.
"I tell people [Lincoln's] half wire-haired Dachshund, half Robin Williams on speed," Walker said. "He's got a lot of energy. That's why we need a park."
Walker and other dog-park supporters researched the idea, started the paperwork to create the association and then set out to raise money for the project. Plans to put the park on a piece of property offered to the association fell through, Walker said. County Administrator Douglas Stanley then approached Walker with the idea of using land in Eastham Park. Efforts to build the dog park built back up about a year or so ago, followed by a groundbreaking held on the site that spans nearly three acres.
The fundraising ranged from yard sales and jewelry making to pet photography and painted portraits. Supporters also bought sponsorships such as benches in honor of lost pets and other family members or friends.
The county pitched in with labor from the Parks and Recreation Department and from inmates at the Warren County Jail, according to Stanley, once the association had raised funds for the materials.
The recreational area provides dog owners in the area the ability to participate in activities not currently available, according to Brandy L. Rosser, grants and special projects coordinator. Activities include off-leash socialization, safe outdoor recreation for dogs of all ages and sizes, and alternative exercise for canines with elderly owners who have difficulty walking their pets on a lead. Research shows the use of dog parks can result in an increase in bonding between pet owners in the community, improved overall physical fitness as a result of encouragement to exercise with the animals and promotion of responsible ownership, according to Rosser.
Contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 635-7750 for more information on the project or to schedule an event at the dog park.