Celebrating a Decade at the Dog Park
By Holly Houser,
Ocean Reef Press Manager
It’s no secret Ocean Reef loves its dogs – a point made evident by our annual Blessing of the Animals celebration, frequent Yappy Hour events, and the Dog Park at Ocean Reef. Remaining a staple in the lives of many Members and their dogs for 13 years, the Dog Park at Ocean Reef was finally able to celebrate its 10-year anniversary last week
(yes, it was three years in the making. Thanks Covid!).
What became especially evident at the celebration was this – the Dog Park is as important for the Members who frequent it as it is for their pets. In fact, it may be the happiest place on The Reef, where broad smiles and tail wags abound.
“Before the Park’s creation, our dogs were the only part of our family that didn’t have a place of their own at Ocean Reef,” explained Stacy Schmetterer, who was the first Co-Chair of the Dog Park Board along with Lin Brown. “Having the Dog Park makes life at Ocean Reef complete for dog owners.” That explains why so many Members and their pooches came out to the Park on January 26 in support of its 10th anniversary, where Dog Park Chairman Sarina Kinney addressed attendees.
“I am sure there are many here who remember when we had to walk along the golf courses or go to what is now Greenberg Park to exercise our dogs,” she said. “As so often happens at Ocean Reef, a group of Members recognized the need and set their minds to resolving it.” This group of Members included Claude Kershner III, who led the search for a plot of land to host the Dog Park, along with fellow ORCAT board members, ORCA staff, Schmetterer and Brown. The search committee quickly discovered property owned by the Ocean Reef Community Foundation. The Foundation donated it to the Dog Park and with support from neighboring Harbour House and The Sanctuary, development of the Dog Park began.
The first Dog Park, now known as the Large Dog Park, was built in 2009, with the Small Dog Park following suit in 2010. Now over a decade has passed and the Dog Park has become more than just a place for the pets.
“Thanks to the vision of the founding members, we now have a social gathering spot with the common denominator of our love of dogs,” said Kinney. “The expression, ‘I heard it at the Dog Park’ is a true thing.” Martina Hamilton, who was at the anniversary celebration with her pup Itsy, agreed saying, “Honestly, Itsy brings me to the Dog Park because I enjoy it!” Before attendees went on to enjoy the rest of the celebration, Kinney revealed a statue and said, “In honor of our anniversary and in recognition of our founders, lead donors and all of you who continue to support the Parks, we offer this bronze in tribute of the hard work that brought this wonderful park to reality.”
The statue will stand between the Small and Large Parks as homage to those who made the Dog Park at Ocean Reef possible.