My husband and I attended a very unique event in March. It was the St. Louis Senior Dog Project Reunion. This event encouraged anyone who had adopted a dog from this organization to come out and enjoy a day of fun at one of the local dog parks. And we did exactly that.
The dog park was in a nice, quiet part of the neighborhood. It was beautifully landscaped and had a double gated entry to ensure the safety of the its dogs. There was a water spigot at one end of the park along with four plastic water bowls. If your pooch was parched, you could simply turn on the faucet and your dog could drink to his/her heart’s content.
Adriel (one of our fur babies) loved running from one end of the park to the other. She played with little dogs, big dogs and soaked up as many belly rubs from the other dog owners as she could. It was a truly wonderful day!
That is when I realized that my town needs a dog park. Every day on my way home from work, I see at least one person walking a dog. On the weekend, that number easily doubles. But, they are doing just that: Walking on the same sidewalk on the same path in the same direction as always. While I love walking my dogs, I have to admit, that would get a little boring.
Plus, the sidewalks run parallel on either side of main street. Why is this a problem? One of my dogs, Cole, is afraid of cars. He was found as a wandering stray in St. Louis by the St. Louis Senior Dog Project. While on a walk one evening, I could not believe how “bad” he was behaving. He refused to walk on the sidewalk closest to the street and ended up pacing (tangling me up in his leash) whenever a particularly noisy car or motorcycle went by. That’s when my husband gently reminded me, “He was a stray. Remember? He probably does not feel safe around cars.”
How could I have been so foolish? If I had been in Cole’s situation, I’m sure that I would have reacted exactly the same way. The goal as a stray is to stay alive. And avoiding cars is a key way to achieve that.
So, I began to think, where else could we take our dogs so that they can romp around in the fresh air? We are blessed with a large back yard, but it would be nice to interact with other fellow dog lovers. And Theo does not like having other dogs on his territory.
Yes, there are other dog parks in the area. However, the park in Belleville requires that you be a resident of the city and pay a membership fee. There is even a keypad on the gate of the dog park so that only members can get in. In O’Fallon, there is a very lovely dog park, but it is a very long drive to get to the park location. Plus, the sign indicates that the city would like you to be a resident as well to use the park, although it is free.
That left me with the same question: Where can we take our dogs to safely play and interact with other dogs?
I decided then and there that I would do something about this. Surely, Cole is not the only dog in my town that feels this way. And truth be told, I am not a fan of walking my fur babies by the street. I’m sure that other Freeburg residents do not like the idea of having to drive for 25 minutes to get to the park in O’Fallon and then walk for another 15 before actually arriving at the park.
Building a dog park in Freeburg would be the perfect solution. Adding one to the large park that is already in existence would be easy.
But, I have learned that there is much planning that goes into a project like this. Thanks to the American Kennel Club, I had a place to start. Their pamphlet, “Establishing a Dog Park in Your Community” was very informative and laid out all of the steps that I need to take to (hopefully) make the park a reality.
I started small by asking my friends on Facebook if they liked the idea of a dog park in town and they loved it! I then went out to the local park with my husband and took pictures of possible locations for the park. Now, I am currently creating a Powerpoint presentation (24 slides and counting!) to someday, present to the Village Board.
In the next few weeks, I will be posting a notice in the local newspaper, handing out fliers to the local vets and groomers and be staging a live petition drive at various locations throughout the city. But, I wondered, how would I get signatures from my friends that used to live in Freeburg, but have since moved away? Luckily, I stumbled upon the www.change.org website. This website allows you to begin and electronic petition for your cause. It will even track how many signatures you obtain. Plus, you can personalize your cause by adding photos and updates about the project.
I would love your support! Please click on the following link to sign the virtual petition:
So, I will press on for now! That’s one small step for man, and one huge leap for our four-legged friends!