By Mary O’KEEFE
It has been one year. A year of new friendships, of fresh air and exercise. A year of having a great place to gather with like-minded beings. It has been a year since
the Crescenta Valley Dog Park opened its gates and let the tail wagging begin.
To mark the milestone, a CV Dog Park anniversary celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at the park, 3901 Dunsmore Ave., La Crescenta.
Travel to or past the CV Dog Park and it is obvious that this is a popular place.
“It’s always busy,” said Cheryl Davis, president of CV Town Council and the force behind the dog park.
A few years ago, a group of dog owners who normally gathered at Two Strike Park began discussing how the area needed a dog park where dogs could run free without a leash. There were some issues along the way with one major hurdle being that Los Angeles County had never built a dog park before; CV would be its first. The group of dog owners was not deterred. They formed CV DOGS (Community Volunteers for Dogs Off-leash Gathering and Socializing).
Davis decided the best way to work with county officials was to become one herself. She ran and won a seat on the CV Town Council where she currently serves as president. Davis and fellow CV DOGS members could be found at the weekly Montrose Harvest Market and many other events promoting the dog park and getting signatures of support. They received help from a dog group in Pasadena that had recently constructed its own park.
It was five and a half years from “Let’s get a park” to its opening. The debates over grass versus wood chips, where the park should be located, that it would be too maintenance heavy and how well would it would be attended were over. The CV Dog Park is a “bone-a-fied” success.
Most every morning Dan Niebur and his dog Charlie and Steve Holland with his dogs Chipper and Luke can be found with their dogs at the park. The two men didn’t know each other before the dog park opened but as their dogs played, they began talking.
“[Dan] is from Minnesota and my dad is from there,” Holland said.
They are like most who come to the dog park – just happy there is someplace where their dogs can socialize.
“This is a great place for dogs to get acclimated to other dogs,” Holland said.
“Charlie has too much energy,” Niebur said. “This is his favorite place.”
Charlie, a poodle, seemed to be the greeter of the park. He runs to the entry gate whenever a new dog shows up and jumps happily when they enter.
The park has an area for large dogs and a separate area for small dogs. Although Charlie was on the small dog side, that didn’t stop him from welcoming the larger dogs. He would run to the gate that separates the two areas and bark his greeting to the larger dogs.
Niebur and Holland said they liked the less crowded early mornings.
“At 9 a.m. it gets busy,” Holland said. “At 6 [p.m.], it is packed.”
For Charlie, it is a place to meet friends and somewhere he seems to never want to leave.
“There are times I have to wrangle him to get his [leash on] to leave,” Niebur said.
Holland and Niebur’s stories reflect exactly what Davis wanted the dog park to be – a place for dogs and pet parents to socialize.
“It makes me cry because I am so happy,” Davis said.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich and L.A. County Parks and Recreation have been with CV DOGS throughout the journey from conception to execution. The L.A. Parks and Rec staff maintains the dog park and, according to both Holland and Niebur, do a very good job.
The one-year mark is important not only to Davis but to L.A. Parks and Rec as well. As the pilot program for the county, the CV Dog Park was watched by officials to see how well the decomposed granite would hold up in the rain and how often it would have to be replace the wood chips that cover the ground on both sides of the dog park. There were also concerns about how many negative incidents there might be between dogs and owners.
“This is all new to them,” Davis said. “This was the right community to get the dog park.”
But there were few problems and the dog park is growing in popularity. Now residents from other L.A. County areas are contacting Davis to ask her how they can start their own park. Members of the CV DOGS are willing to help in the same way that the Pasadena dog park people mentored them.
The Parks and Rec staff conducted a dog park survey and found that the majority of people were happy with the park. Those who frequent the park would like another water station at the far end of the large dog area. At present the only water station is at the entry gate. Davis is hoping that CV DOGS, which was created for the building of the park, will become Friends of CV DOGS and raise funds for the water station.
Davis hopes with the success of the dog park more people will want to become pet parents.
“I hope people will rescue dogs,” Davis said. “And that this helps more dogs.”