By Megan Wilson
Dogs and humans alike can finally rejoice because on Thursday Aug. 28, the Ridge Run Dog Park in Boyne City will officially be open for canine and human socialization.
The grand opening is from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., with a ribbon-cutting at 5 p.m.
“Dogs are welcome and encouraged to attend,” said Michele Carter, Co-Chair of the Ridge Run Dog Park Committee.
Fund-raising raffles will also be held at the grand opening, with all proceeds going to further construction and improvements to the dog park. And, Boyne Mountain is donating hot dogs, brats, buns and chips.
“Boyne City is a community that has many full- and part-time residents with dogs, not to mention the tourist population who visit our community with their dogs,” said Carter. “As I understand it, many people have reached out to the city asking for a dog park, and, the city itself realized the need for a fenced, safe area for dogs to play and exercise while off leash.”
According to officials, many of the city’s baseball diamonds had been used by owners as make-shift dog parks, and Boyne City would prefer that they be used exclusively for baseball.
“Areas such as Avalanche have seen an increase in off-leash activity over the past years and, technically, dogs are welcome as long as they are walked on-leash,” said Carter.
Carter was asked to join a dog park evaluation committee last October.
“After months of reaching out for community volunteers, reviewing potential city-owned properties, the committee voted on the North Boyne/Ridge Street location,” she said.
The dog park has been funded by individual and corporate monetary, equipment and material donations, and is currently in the midst of raising monies to complete additional upgrades.
“Since our fund-raising initiatives began early spring, we have raised approximately $32,000,” said Carter. “With this money we have been able to pay for fencing, site preparation and clean up, waste bag stations, water and wash down stations.”
Fund-raisers have taken place in the form of silent auctions, a photo shoot, and other area business hosted events.
“We are still in need of additional funds to help with building costs for two shade pavilions, benches, additional fencing for agility play area, which include a dedication plaque, trees, grass seed and fill dirt.
Fence section donations are also available for purchase in the large and small dog areas; the purchase costs are $175 for a 10-foot section, which includes a dedication plaque.
“In today’s world, dogs aren’t getting as much physical activity and socialization with other dogs because of work schedules. The dog park is a good release for them so they can be more sociable,” said Janet DiPirro, of Northern K9 University. “I’m a dog trainer and I have been for a long time and I believe in the pack mentality—the more social a dog is then the more good behaviors are spread. Dogs have no idea how to react on the street when they are walked because they are not being socialized with other dogs.”
The Leadership Charlevoix 2014 class was involved with helping at fund-raising events, and also utilized their shared resources with the Ridge Run Dog Park Committee.
“Part of the Leadership Charlevoix County (LCC) program is that the group comes up with ideas and does something for the local community,” said Patrick Patoka, Director of Avalanche Bay. “As a result of a lot of really good suggestions we decided to team up with the citizens group that was putting together the dog park.”
The Ridge Run Dog Park has separate areas for different types of dogs to ensure maximum human and canine safety.
“The local community is so passionate about this park, it’s just one more thing about why people love to be here,” said Cindy Johnson-Minkwic, Co-Chair of Ridge Run Dog Park Committee.
Animals that are in heat, aggressive, or puppies that are under four months old are not allowed in the park.
“It’s an unleashed fenced area for the dogs. There is a large dog area as well as a small dog area,” said Carter. “Small dogs have their own playground, and large dogs have their own playground.”
She added, “There is an area where both dogs can be walked together but for safety reasons large dogs are not allowed in the small dog area.”