+To the editor:
I see community as individuals working together helping to make that area a better place to live, work, play and attract visitors.
Identifying a community need and volunteering to fill that need is a most rewarding experience. Anyone who knows me knows my passion for the welfare of animals. I don’t just ‘love’ animals but work every day to help dogs in need.
Through these efforts, I recognized the need for a dog park on Cape Ann. I have visited dog parks across the country and saw firsthand the joy they bring not only to the dogs but to their guardians as well. I instantly thought, “My community could use one of those!”
It’s been a long road, but The Friends of Gloucester Dog Park — an all-volunteer group of local residents — is finally nearing completion of Cape Ann’s first dog park located at Stage Fort Park in Gloucester. This nearly 2-acre parcel of land has been divided into three fenced-in sections: a large dog area, a small dog area and Tino’s Corner, an area for special-needs dogs or dogs not quite ready for the larger dog park but who are in need of off-leash exercise and play time, too.
We are working towards a May 18 opening and, in the meantime, encourage everyone to take a walk by to see for themselves all that has been accomplished. What once was a weed and trash infested, unproductive piece of land has been transformed into a Gloucester gem and a jewel for Cape Ann dogs and their guardians.
There is much to be aware of when taking a trip to the dog park, so we also encourage visitors to go to our website www.gloucesterdogpark.org and view videos and articles on dog park etiquette and dog behavior to ensure a successful visit. Many dogs will not react as you might expect.
Think of a child’s first day at school. Some children cry, some cling, some run to the door and never look back and others are simply calm. Dogs’ reactions will be similar, and a guardian must monitor not only their dog’s behavior and signs of stress but the behavior of other dogs, as well. We have tips to help make people aware of things that can be done to alleviate such stress or calm over-exuberance such as keeping your initial visit to 15 minutes or less, initially going to the dog park during off peak hours and other helpful actions.
As we embark on the home stretch, we still need volunteers and financial support for the grand opening and continued park maintenance. If you are interested in volunteering and/or naming opportunities in the dog park, please email firstname.lastname@example.org .
You can contribute online by visiting our website, www.gloucesterdogpark.org , or by mailing a check to The Gloucester Fund, 45 Middle St., Gloucester, MA 01930 earmarked in the memo line “dog park.” All donations are tax deductible and will be matched by the generous donation of the Dusky Foundation.
I hope to see you and your best friend soon at your local dog park!
MARY LOU DIANGELIS-MARAGANIS
founder, Gloucester Dog Park