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Gettysburg embraces dog park

Roseann DeLuca
Cold Creek Dog Training

(2/22) The Gettysburg area is getting a dog park! We couldn’t be more excited to offer this feature to the community. We have been in the planning stages for several months through a "Dog Park Steering Committee," headed by GARA board member Mary Miner. Though a professed "cat person," Mary sees the need and the overwhelming community interest in a dog park. Last year the residents of the Gettysburg area were polled to see what amenities they would most like to have in their community and the dog park was the resounding winner by far. The board of GARA and local residents are now taking steps to make the dog park a reality.

The park will be built at the Gettysburg Recreation Authority, or Rec Park, as it is commonly known in the community. The Rec Park is a community oriented park recreation authority, formerly managed directly through the Gettysburg Borough. GARA is now an independent nonprofit entity managed by a board of directors and is eager to carry on in its role in the community to help develop the community through parks, programs and people. It hosts game leagues of all sorts from little league to football, pavilions for picnicking, and now room for our four-footed friends!

The location of the dog park will be on the north west end of the Rec Park near the Howard street parking lot area for super easy access to the fenced on dog park area. A five-foot chain link fence will be put in surrounding the almost one-acre area that has been allotted to the project. There will be a large and small dog area designated. The overall dog park plan will be completed in stages and features will be added as funds come in. There will be benches, a watering station and eventually other features such as agility items like tunnels and slides as the dog park campaigned progresses. We will be adding trees and shrubs to the already existing mature trees that are already growing there. As our donation level approaches the mark of $25,000, we hope to have the park up and running by a June 1, target date, so it’s going to happen as fast as the donations come in!

There are many residents of Gettysburg and the surrounding areas who do not have safe places where dogs can just run and have a good time with their own kind and be off of their leashes. Not everyone has access to a fenced yard or the ability to walk their dog for proper amounts of time, especially during the cold winter months. And while a romp at the dog park won’t take the full place of proper walks, which are important for a dog’s traveling nature, it can bridge the gap from time to time.

Being such a huge tourist town, Gettysburg will be a great place for visitors to enjoy having a place to let their dogs run on the approximately one-acre fenced in, free off-leash area in the Rec Park setting. The Park will draw out-of-towners deeper into the downtown area to hopefully support our local businesses’ traffic.

One of the best benefits for dog owners themselves is to be able to interact with other like-minded dog owners who share the same interest in their love of dogs. Also, it will be a benefit to be able to exercise with their dogs. Besides having access to a great off-leash romp in the dog park, dog owners can walk on the Biser Fitness Trail and Walking Path, a mile-long loop around the 50-acre Rec Park complex with workout stations.

In dog benefit terms, it’s a great place for dogs to run free off-leash and interact with their own kind and other dog friendly people too in a safe, contained environment. Tired dogs are happy dogs as any dog owner knows. Dogs who receive regular exercise are less likely to have health or behavioral issues. It gives dogs the opportunity for pack socialization skills, which are very important for the mental overall wellbeing of a dog. In order to keep the dog park a very safe and friendly environment, we plan to offer free "Dog Body Language" workshops at the park by local trainers to help dog park regulars understand what their dog’s body language conveys to other dogs and to other people. As spring gets closer we will offer some Fun Dog Days in the park, Bark in the Park type events to generate interest with vendors and activities for dog and their owners and a chance to get out on some green grass soon!

While the dog park will be absolutely free for anyone, we encourage local dog owners to register and be part of the contact list for the park. For a donation of $10.00 you will be listed as a "founding member" and receive a reflective tag for your dog. Our hope is that our local dog owners will be involved and have the pride of ownership in knowing they were a part of things from the beginning.

In order to make it all happen, we are reaching out to the community for tax-deductible contributions to help fund the park. We are aiming for a starting block of $25,000 to get the park up and running. Donation levels have been earmarked starting at $10 and up for various featured items in the park, such as a brick, tree, bench or various other items of perpetuity. We are also considering that a large benefactor may want to have the dog park named after them or their dog. The founding member donations starting at $10 will receive a reflective tag with the name of the dog park on it. At this time we are referring to the dog park as simply "The Gettysburg Dog Park" but we are asking the community to come forward with name suggestions and also to help us create a logo for the park. We ask that the logo contain the acronym GARA since the park is located at the Gettysburg Recreation Authority and that the entries be submitted to in camera ready art form so the chosen entry can be taken right to press. We will provide more information on this at our next community dog park meeting, which will be in March. Stay tuned with your local newspaper as well as our Facebook pages for the Rec Park and Gettysburg Dog Park for an announcement about the date and time.

We are reaching out to the community to support the dog park development. The park will be funded by the generosity of dog lovers just like you. If you would like to be involved and volunteer in anyway, give us a call with how you would like to help and also to make a donations as well. Contact the Rec Park at 717-334-2028 or drop in for a visit. Follow the GARA website too for information too ( See you in the Park!

Editor Note: Rose Deluca is the most excellent owner of Cold Creek Dog Training in Gettysburg. For more information on Rose and to learn about upcoming classes, please visit her website at www.ColdCreek¬

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