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Windsor dog park honors dog lover who didn’t live to see it open

  • Adrianne Burklund, left, and Erin Renninger, both of Windsor, Vt., find a little shade with their dogs Rory, Xena and Kujo at Paradise Bark in Windsor on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. The two friends come to the dog park often. ( Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

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    Rhonda VanHise, of Windsor, Vt., watches her dog Missy -- a pit bull mix rescue from Texas -- play with her ball at the Paradise Bark dog park in Windsor, Vt., on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. VanHise said she brings the dog to the park often. "It's so great for the dogs to have other dogs to play with and have some exercise," she said.( Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Jennifer Hauck

  • Erin Renninger, of Windsor, Vt., has her dog Kujo, a lab, wait while she throws a ball with her second dog Xena, a great dane/bullmastiff mix, at Paradise Bark in Windsor, Vt., on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. ( Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

  • Rory, a cavapoo, plays with Xena, an eight month-old great dane/bull mastiff mix at Paradise Bark dog park in Windsor, Vt., on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. ( Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Jennifer Hauck

  • Kerry Clifford with her dog Moxie in an undated photograph. (Courtesy photograph) Courtesy photograph

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 6/7/2022 9:54:52 PM
Modified: 6/7/2022 9:52:44 PM

WINDSOR — After the dedication of Paradise Bark on Monday, where several people praised the vision and determination of the late Kerry Clifford to make the dog park a reality, Charlie showed his appreciation the only way he knew how.

When most had departed, the small, beige Cocker spaniel, with the fenced-in park all to himself, raced around, darting here and there, having too much fun to heed his owner’s repeated commands to come.

“He just absolutely loves it here,” said Charlie’s owner, Marie Waite, of Ascutney, after she was finally able to leash him. “We bring him almost every day. He is a rescue, so with other dogs it helps him build a feeling of security.”

Clifford died from cancer in the summer of 2020 at the age of 45, but everyone agreed at the dedication that without her persistence, there would be no dog park in Windsor.

“We are here because this was Kerry’s dream, and she never gave up on this even when we hit roadblocks along the way,” said her mother, Luella Krieger. “This is what she wanted, for people who have dogs to be able to have a place for them to run, play and be together.

“Since this opened, we have seen a lot of people coming in the morning to run their dogs and their dogs run them,” Krieger said.

The park is at the town’s fairgrounds and recreation area on Route 44, near where an old armory stood before it was demolished in 2020.

Krieger said her daughter began talking about a dog park eight years ago and several places, including the former Goodyear site, were considered, then abandoned.

“She thought we needed a place for the dogs for people to bring their dogs to run around,” Krieger said, pausing to watch a sign dedicating the park to Clifford’s memory being affixed to the fence near the entrance. “So she started talking to other dog people and to Tom Marsh, the town manager.”

Krieger said her daughter kept working on it and looking at places in town. When one did not pan out, she moved on to something else.

“Then they decided they would put up the dog park when the armory came down (fall of 2020),” Krieger said.

The fence, partially erected when it was armory property, was completed last fall and the park opened.

Jim Moeykens remembered telling Clifford a dog park didn’t strike him as necessary in a rural town with plenty of places for dogs to run in the woods. Then the Moeykens got a new puppy that grew from 40 pounds to 100, and suddenly the park made sense.

“Now I see the advantages of a dog park,” he told the small gathering outside the fence. “I’m here just about every day. She has a lot of energy, and it is not just good for her to run but to socialize, and she is friendly with all the dogs. So I totally understand now. She was absolutely right.”

Clifford’s work on behalf of the park was not the only thing that endeared her to so many. She inspired others with her courageous battle against cancer as she fought the disease while keeping focus on her love of animals by fostering dogs and supporting others with cancer.

“That was one of the things I loved most about Kerry,” said Coral Lydone, a cancer survivor, who recalled having coffee with Clifford one morning as they shared stories about their shared experience. “She had so much heart to give and so much love even during her own battle. Such a wonderful woman.”

The park opened last year but had been closed until Monday while the town seeded it during mud season and left time for the grass to grow. Krieger also noted a small fenced-in area off to the side that is for smaller dogs.

Clifford’s sons, Dalton Clifford, a Windsor High School senior who will graduate Friday, and Max, a college junior, were on hand for the dedication.

“She put in all the work and then passed and then within the past year it has finally gotten done,” Dalton Clifford said. It’s “definitely cool to see it done, but it is a shame she is not here to see it.”

Max Clifford said he and his brother learned important life lessons from their mother.

“She served in everything she did and always wanted to do things to benefit other people,” he recalled. “That is the biggest takeaway I had from her: Do good things for others and life will always be worth it.”

Dalton and Max brought along their mother’s dog Moxie, a shepherd/collie mix.

“Moxie is our patron saint of the park,” Krieger said. “We hope more people use it. Dogs have a wonderful time here.”

Charlie would wholeheartedly agree.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.




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