The Beach Coast Boasts
Parks For Man’s Best Friend
The starting line of the Dachshund Derby
Six-foot steel sculpture stands sentinel at entrance to Sari Asher Memorial Park.
By Barbara Eastman
Recognizing the devotion citizens have to their animals more and more municipalities are designating tracts of city or county land as dog parks. While dogs clearly benefit from the opportunity to play with other dogs, there are benefits to their owners, too. People whose paths would never cross otherwise meet at the dog parks. At first they may not even exchange names—they simply know each other as “Duffy’s owner” or “the guy with the Wheaten.” But after seeing each other time after time at the dog park, owners often become friends.
Buffalo Citizens Band Together
The Sari Asher Memorial Park in New Buffalo, Michigan is a lovely spot where citizens and visitors may bring their dogs. It was funded primarily through private donations and took the better part of two years and endless hours of work to make it happen. Nancy Smith, a member of the Zoning Commission and president of the Harbor Association, helped spearhead the project, which officially opened in October 2008. In the first year the park had 58 family memberships—a number that has continued to grow each year. Annual memberships are available, as are day passes, for occasional visitors. Owners must provide proof that their dog’s immunizations are up-to-date and aggressive or non-socialized dogs are not permitted, nor are small children. Improvements continue to be made. Since opening, a small breed area has been designated and this year with donated materials and labor provided by New Buffalo High School students, a shelter with seating will be built. At the entrance there is a steel sculpture, also donated, welcoming dogs and owners to the Sari Asher Memorial Park. Without financial support from the private sector, Nancy doubts the park would ever have been built. But she and scores of New Buffalo residents are thrilled with the result—and so are their pets!
Pet Country Club in Valparaiso
In The Beach Coast and many other parts of the country, there are also private dog parks like the Canine Country Club in Valparaiso. While visiting their daughter in Indianapolis, owners Teri and Bob Gray went to the Broad Ripple Dog Park and decided that the dog owners of Valparaiso deserved a place like it, where they could spend quality off-leash time with their animals. Teri had just inherited some land in Valpo and decided to designate some of it as a dog park.
Canine Country Club is all about fun and one very successful event that the Grays sponsor is the Dachshund Derby, which is fun for both entrants and spectators. They also hold a Responsible Dog Ownership Day, which, this year will be held September 25th (details will be published on the website). The theme is “Woofstock” and many vendors, vets, pet sitters, a pet photographer, and the Valparaiso Kennel Club will participate. There will also be demonstrations on agility, obedience, and other popular canine sports.
The 5-acre Canine Country Club officially opened in November 2002. It features a 6-foot perimeter fence and a double entry, which minimizes the potential for escape. There are benches, a gazebo, a fenced training area and an area designated for small breed dogs. The Club offers agility and obedience classes, and this year put up a new 4000sf building so the classes may be offered year-round. They also plan to offer “doga” classes (yoga with your pet), canine massage, and fly ball and they partner with the Valpo Kennel Club, which will begin using the Canine Country Club building for its own obedience classes.
It is open year-round and memberships are available for terms of one month to one year and day passes are available during office hours. The Club is open six days a week (closed Mondays) from 7:00am to dusk, 52 weeks a year. Currently there are 175 human members, many of whom have multiple dogs. All dogs must be immunized and socialized, and no children under ten are admitted.
the Effort for a Dog Park in Your Town
Throughout The Beach Coast there are many municipal and private dog parks (see below). If you have just moved to a Beach Coast community, contact your local Parks and Recreation Department to see if your town already has a dog park. If not, rally the support of other local pet owners and start the process. There is a lot of help available online to help start a pet park in your community. When you succeed, your pet’s wagging tail and look of eager anticipation when he knows it’s time to go to the dog park will be all the thanks you’ll ever need.
3554 Sturdy Road
Asher Memorial Park
1420 E. Washington
New Buffalo, MI
A partial listing of dog parks in or near The Beach Coast:
County Park 3855 South 1100 West
9701 Calumet Avenue
Creek Ridge County Park
7943 W. 400 North
Lemon Lake Country Park
6322 W. 133rd
Crown Point, IN
Luhr County Park 3178 S. 150 W.
60376 CR 16
Small Animal Shelter 2855 W State Road 2 LaPorte, Indiana