A Dog's Life
The Haig Point Community Dog Park
“What did my happy ears just hear? A doggy park visit with my friends so dear! I can’t wait to see Emmy, a golden doodle, who thinks I am cool even though I’m no poodle.” Trip’s mind raced as he waited for Carol to get off the phone. He was about to see his special BFF. He was so excited that his tail wagged his whole body as he danced in circles and then dashed for the door.
This whole “dog” thing is pretty amazing if you think about it. Somehow dogs have managed to convince all of us that they are just about the best things in the world and that they deserve to have prime real estate dedicated to their enjoyment. After all, they ARE man’s best friend.
No one can deny that the bond we have with our canine companions is like no other. It is a bond of unconditional friendship - unique because we love them and we are certain that they love us back. That’s why dog owners at Haig Point decided that their best friends deserved to have a dedicated place to play. After all, it wasn’t safe to let their dogs run free into the wilds of Haig Point. And everyone agreed that their best friends should be able to play off-leash from time to time. But where?
When Dr. Mark Ettinger put his shoulders to the task of creating a play space for dogs, Haig Point’s dog lovers joined in. A well-attended fund-raising event which featured Paw-tinis, Yappy-tizers, a Kissing Booth, and a Dog Costume Contest, brought needed attention to the project. A fund-raising thermometer was posted at the Mansion and everyone watched as it moved upwards well beyond its goal of $10,000. Thanks to the generosity of Haig Point dog owners and special “angels,” Haig Point’s new dog park became a reality - a gift to the community, funded by donors, not by dues.
Located in the community park, the approximately 14,000 square foot doggy play space is more than what its name implies. It is a social center for members, a work-out facility for dogs, and an entertainment park for everyone. Socially, it is a place where dog owners congregate and make new friends. Everyone agrees that it is easy to talk to strangers when you both speak doggy talk. This includes making play dates, arranging to dog share (babysitting for each other’s dogs) and even planning CC time (cocktails with canines.) Carol Tait and Traci Hampton, who are enjoying their new community of dog friends, have organized weekly bring-your-own-beverage Yappy Hours on Thursdays from 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM and several dog owners are planning special events for the months ahead.
As a work-out facility, the doggy park includes two play areas based on the size of the dog, benches for attentive chaperones, exercise equipment, and a watering station/dog wash area. After getting their fill of exercise by racing up the stairs, or chasing each other down the ramps and through the tunnels, most dogs seem to love taking a last big drink and washing off before they leave for home. Could they ask for anything more?
As doggy owners, we might ponder the same question. Watching our dogs socialize at the park is akin to watching our children playing in the schoolyard – entertaining and touching. We see their joie de vivre as they play catch-me-if-you-can, their sensitivity as they seem to know who enjoys rough and tumble and who needs a gentle touch, their compassion as they stop to check on a friend who has taken a break from all the fun, and their welcoming spirit when they all run to the gate to greet a new arrival (as these three are doing.) It puts laughter on our lips and joy in our hearts. Carol Tait even observed that Kallie, her 16-year-old who would be happy just lazing around the house, stands taller and seems to feel young again when she is around her buddies at the park. Who could ask for anything more?
A favorite topic of conversation among dog lovers at the park is the way dogs relate to each other. Dogs seem to have favorite friends and even BFFs (Best Friends Forever). You can see it in the way their ears perk when a certain bark is heard in the distance. Some observers say that Larry Pell’s Havanese, Lilly, has a secret lover and all agree that Rocket’s tail wags faster when his best buddy, Trip, approaches the gate. However, these special relationships aren’t exclusive. All the dogs seem to enjoy and love one another. They even put up with the playful idiosyncrasy of Jasper Nolfi whose job it is to empty every water bowl he can find by splashing with his paws. Look out if you are standing near.
Dog owners also play a big part in the success of the dog park as they follow a set of informal guidelines which ensure proper behavior from the canine crowd:
• They do not take off their dog off leash until he has entered the enclosure.
• They make sure their dog enters the park in a calm and orderly manner.
• They pick up after their dogs.
• They make sure that their puppy is ready for the park – usually 12 to 16 weeks old with all vaccinations.
• They don’t bring their dog’s favorite toys to the park.
• They actively supervise their dog at all times, even while they are visiting with other chaperones.
• They get their dog ready to play nicely at the park - this could mean playing fetch or taking him for a jog before letting an over-energetic participant join the crowd.
Guidelines like these might explain why there is something special about Haig Point’s doggy-park dogs. They seem sophisticated, almost mannerly. They seem sensitive, almost human. Could they have attended a private boarding school or is it just the influence of a day in the park with their friends?
When all is said and done, the gift to Haig Point from our community of our dog lovers is a gift that will keep on giving - to our canine friends and to all of us who love dogs.