Push On to Fund Enfield Project

Monday, June 23, 2014
Enfield — Mike Peterson and his Rhodesian ridgeback Vaska joined a group of more than two dozen Enfield dog park supporters and their canine companions t o participate in the filming of a promotional video on Sunday afternoon.

They waited in the parking lot of the Shaker Recreation Park off Route 4A in Enfield for a motley group to gather.

Peterson, a Lebanon resident, said he and Vaska take two outings a day, one for a walk and another to socialize. Should it come to fruition, the Enfield park proposed for the field adjoining the recreation park’s playing fields would serve the social purpose.

Vaska, who is three-years-old and 95 pounds, and his playmates “pick up where they’ve left off” from play date to play date, said Peterson.

The Mascoma Valley Dog Park Supporters received a non-binding endorsement from Enfield voters at Town Meeting in March and in April the Enfield Selectboard gave the nonprofit — its tax-exempt status is pending — approval to continue its fundraising and planning. The dog park will be managed and paid for by the volunteer group, while the town has agreed to make the land available through an annual lease and insure it.

Marcia Herrin, Mascoma Valley Dog Park Supporters president, and Larissa Pyer, the group’s treasurer, greeted the soon-to-be movie stars as they gathered in the parking lot on Sunday.

“This is proof right here that we need a dog park,” said Pyer of the turnout for the quickly organized event.

Pyer and Herrin pulled together Sunday’s filming within a week of learning the Enfield group had become one of 15 finalists in the nationwide PetSafe Bark For Your Park contest. A promotional video is one of the requirements for the competition, which includes a prize of $100,000 and four lesser prizes of $25,000.

Voting for the contest is open to the public at PetSafe.net and on Facebook. Individuals can vote once on each website daily through July 31.

Enfield is leading the pack for the Bark From Your Heart Award, which rewards the city, or in this case town, with the highest percentage of votes based on population with $25,000. Derby, in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, won the same award in 2012. This year’s winners will be announced in August.

Should the Enfield group win the contest, it will need to include PetSafe in the park’s name. Herrin said they might be “selling out a little bit,” but if they receive the $25,000 award, they will be halfway to their final goal of $50,000.

As of Sunday, the group had raised just $3,676, according to the group’s website www.mascomavalleydogpark.com.

The site plan of Enfield’s park is still under development, with assistance from Alan Saucier of Saucier & Flynn Landscape Architects in West Lebanon, but it is slated to include three parts: one area for large dogs, another for small dogs — under 25 pounds — and a third for training.

To prepare the area for dogs, the group will need to install a high fence, mow the grass and bring in gravel, said Herrin.

The group is awaiting a soil report and state approval to create a driveway and parking area separate from that of the playing fields.

After the initial construction is completed, Herrin estimated the park will cost $2,000 - $3,000 to maintain each year.

On Sunday, volunteer videographer Rob Robertson of Quechee first took still photographs of the people and pets seated in the parking lot below a banner decorated with the group’s name.

Then, most ventured into the overgrown grass and wildflowers that is slated to become the dogs’ play place as Robertson followed them with his lens.

Robertson said he was looking for close-ups of the dogs’ “happy faces,” a panorama of the location and shots of the recreation field’s signs.

“The dogs will be the stars,” said Robertson, who left his chocolate lab/retriever/pointer mix at home while filming.

The 30-second video will be posted on YouTube after it’s edited, within the next week or so, said Pyer.

Jo Ann Clark, a member of Mascoma Valley Dog Park Supporters board, opted not to frolic in the grass with the group and instead stayed in the parking lot holding the leash of her two-year-old rescued Maltese Yorkshire terrier Holly.

Clark, an Enfield resident, said the round trip to the Upper Valley’s sole dog park, Hartford’s Watson Park, is 34 miles, but the trip to the Shaker Recreation Park is just 10 minutes.

She said Holly is less a puppy than she was a year ago, but she still benefits from running and playing with other small dogs.

“She needs that activity,” said Clark.

So far, at least, the dog park is putting its organizers through their paces.

Herrin, a nutritionist, and Pyer, who works at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, said they have several fundraising events planned for the summer.

They’re gathering items for the Animal Clinic of Enfield’s yard sale to benefit the dog park, part of a town-wide event on July 19.

Then, during the Enfield’s Old Home Days on July 27, volunteers will provide guided tours of the site.

In August, the day after the Lebanon Memorial Pool closes to the public, the group plans to partner with the Lebanon Recreation and Parks Department to host Paws in the Pool, which will give dogs a chance to get wet.

An entry fee will benefit the dog park and a scholarship fund for the recreation department.

Herrin said in addition to providing a venue for dogs to exercise, the park is intended to bring people together and build community.

“I used to write books. Now I don’t write books. Instead, we do this together,” she said.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.


Marcia Herrin is the president of the Mascoma Valley Dog Park Supporters. Her first name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.