Five years ago, then-Attleboro resident Roberta Collins was driving home from the dog park in Sharon with her golden retriever Spencer when a bad episode of vertigo caused by Meniere's disease kicked in. That dangerous moment far from home got her thinking.
"I said to myself, 'Why doesn't Attleboro have a dog park?'" Collins recalled.
She did more than wonder; Collins went into action almost immediately. She approached the City Council to request a dog park ordinance, a wish that was granted about a year later. Although the city in 2009 designated a 19,500-square-foot piece of land for the park on Pond Street North near the animal shelter, it was clear money to build the facility was not coming from the government. Grassroots fundraising would be needed to turn the dream into a reality.
Approximately $5,000 has been raised for the dog park, and installation will begin on Sunday at 10 a.m. Volunteers are needed to help with digging 82 holes (an auger will be used for the digging, but volunteers are needed to remove the dirt). There is an offer of hot dogs to entice people to help. If you can't make it on Sunday, volunteers are also needed the next two Sundays (10 a.m. both days) to complete the project.
Getting to this point hasn't been easy.
"It's been a labor of love during these five years," said Attleboro Dog Park Committee co-Chair Carol Ferraro, who noted the various methods the committee has used to raise money, including bake sales, mutt marches, donation requests at the Farmers Market, T-shirts sales, stickers sales, post card drives, contests, raffles and a donation request tab on the committee's website.
The committee got a huge break last year when an anonymous person donated a chain-link fence. With that feature covered, this reduced the amount of money the committee needed to raise in half.
Many people have helped over the years, but the consistent core leading the effort has been committee co-chairs Collins, Ferraro (the two met when Collins posted an ad looking for help and have since become good friends) and Ray Cord. Each one has a love for their dogs (Collins' Spencer, Ferraro's four Jack Russell terriers—Jody, Lucy, Bella and Dotty and Cord's German shepherd Matrix) and a desire for those dogs to enjoy the freedom of an off-leash park where they can roam and play.
Collins and Ferraro are quick to list the benefits of a dog park for the animals, their owners and the community.
"It creates an opportunity for exercise and socialization for the dogs," said Collins, who has moved to Rhode Island, but remains dedicated to this Attleboro cause. "It leads to well-behaved dogs because a well-behaved dog is one who is so exhausted from lots of running and playing, and you usually don't have problems after that."
Ferraro added, "That freedom to run and play, that's what a dog wants and needs. That's their happiness. Just like us, they need an outlet for all their energy."
The park will be open seven days a week from dawn to dusk for dogs of all sizes and types. Trained volunteer monitors will be on duty when possible (if you want to become a monitor, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org). Ferraro's 15-year-old son David, as part of his Eagle Scout project, is making a wooden entrance sign, benches, a bulletin board, rules sign and a place for an emergency phone.
A grand opening will take place shortly after the installation work is finished. Ferraro is looking forward to that day.
"I can't wait to unclick that leash and let them fly," she said. "It's a dream. I can't wait to see it become a reality."
Volunteers wishing to help with the installation on Sunday should post a message on the dog park committee's Facebook page here or send an email to email@example.com so the committee knows how many hot dogs to bring.