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Huntington's dog park receiving good reviews

Oct. 14, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

Huntington has changed over the years. Some will argue that many things within our city would be better off left alone, none-the-less, the only thing that continues to remain constant, is change. Ritter Park has continued to change without losing the feeling of trolley cars, summer picnics, straw hats and family recreation. Even the dog park, which cut the opening ribbon last June, seems to create something more than just a gathering place for the family dog.

Kevin Brady, executive director of Greater Huntington Parks and Recreational District, has received a great deal of feedback about the new dog park. Most of it is positive, but he understands that it's asking too much to please every household with a wagging tail.

"The dog park opened to a wonderful enthusiastic crowd last June," said Brady. "It's unrealistic to believe that there wouldn't be mixed feelings. In all honesty, the location is perfect for dogs. If the area were level, there would be many groups wanting it for a number of youth activities. As it is, the location is a natural for a dog park. We realize the area near the entrance is muddy when wet. We intend to address that situation in the future, but as long as the area is used as intended, grass will have a difficult time getting started there."

Brady also mentioned that visits to the dog park seem to show that many have accepted the responsibility to clean up after their animals.

Christina Scarberry, who is a stay-at-home mom, brings her dogs to the park as often as four days a week. Presently, she comes early when the park is less crowded.

"I have four foster dogs from the Cabell Wayne animal shelter," said Scarberry. "In addition to my foster pets, I have two of my own. I bring the dogs from the shelter here first. After being kept inside, and in our small backyard, coming here is a real treat for them. My other two dogs also seem to enjoy the freedom that the dog park affords them."

After taking the four smaller dogs back home, Scarberry brings her two larger dogs, Norma and Delilah. Norma is a blue tick coon hound who seems more content to stay close to her owner. Delilah is a tree walker coon hound with a high-energy level. Both dogs came from the Cabell-Wayne Animal Shelter. Scarberry plans to continue bringing her dogs to the park year-round, because it's easier than walking them on a leash with her two-year-old daughter, Amelia.

Scarberry wanted to mention that the foster program at the Cabell-Wayne Animal Shelter is a volunteer program. It allows people to take a pet home for a few weeks, it also reduces overcrowding at the shelter.

Andrew Copley is a recent grad school graduate who likes the dog park because it's convenient. His companion of less than two weeks is his new friend Trevor, a friendly cocker spaniel who was adopted from the Cabell-Wayne Animal Shelter with the help of Little Victories.

"I brought him over here a couple of days ago just to see what his reaction would be," said Copley. "Today I just let him go, and Trevor seemed to enjoy being able to run without the leash. Even with the fence that separates him from the larger dogs, he still seems intimidated. Maybe in time he will feel secure."

Mary Beth Biederman was active with the dog park long before the fence went up. She attended a couple of the downtown meetings, got involved with the voting, and has been bringing her dogs to patrol the inside perimeter of the dog park since it opened. Sam, her yellow Labrador doesn't socialize too well, which is why she comes early

"The area seems to be taken care of by those who are coming," said Biederman. "Whoever is responsible for the upkeep of this place is doing a good job. I hope the area continues to be utilized."

Laila Herbert's dachshund weighs 23 pounds, yet she still wants her dog to be around other dogs to play with. She has been coming a couple of days each week since the park opened. She would like to see a few more park benches.

Travis Blankenship brings his rottweiler mix because there is no room for him to run loose at home. He has also been coming every week since it opened.

Tammy Ross has been bringing her dog, Candy, about five days a week. "I have no yard at home, so for me this dog park is a wonderful idea. I have noticed that the older dog owners have a little trouble walking on the uneven surface. Maybe a few more benches would be nice.

Emily Setser comes with her five month old puppy every day. She says it's important for her dog to socialize with other dogs. Her dog is a greater Swiss mountain dog which she got from the Cabell-Wayne Animal Shelter.

There were several more individuals, and families interviewed that day. Most thought the dog park was being taken care of. Everyone acknowledged that they cleaned up after their dogs, even though firsthand observations witnessed otherwise. There is a general consensus among the seniors that the terrain, especially when wet, causes footing to be a little awkward. A few mentioned that additional benches would be nice. There was praise for the excellent fence construction, honorable mention for the convenient water fountain, and appreciation for the double gate.

Clyde Beal is an area freelance writer still looking for stories of Christmas traditions in your family. Write him at archie350@frontier.com.