Park District Brings Recreation to the Dogs
The St. Charles Park District strives to provide recreational activities for all members of the family – even the four-legged kind.
Recognizing that dogs are family members too, the park district accommodates furry friends in many ways with dedicated dog parks, dog-friendly trails and even special dog events.
Barks in Parks
Residents have three different dog parks to choose from to let their sidekick run, jump and play. Built in 2007, the 2.5 acre dog park at James O. Breen Community Park was the first of its kind in St. Charles. One year later, the East Side Sports Complex dedicated three-fourths of an acre for a second dog park. And lastly, in 2015 the District added three-fourths of an acre for a dog park at River Bend Community Park.
All parks include a fenced-in area, double-gated security entrance and a separate area for smaller dogs. James O. Breen and East Side Sports Complex have agility equipment, but the East Side is the only park with access to a pond.
The pond is key for Geneva resident Matt Haiduk, who regularly brings his two Vizslas, Bacon and Solo, to the park.
“We like the pond and the agility equipment and they love playing catch,” said Haiduk, as he tossed a ball to Bacon who caught it mid-air, ran it back and then zipped through the tunnel.
“If they don’t get enough exercise, they get a little crazy,” he said. “And it’s important for them to interact with other dogs.”
According to the Humane Society of the United States, dogs that have more exercise and socialization are less stressed and less likely to act out in such ways as digging, chewing, barking, having accidents and escaping. Therefore, dog parks can serve as an outlet to help prevent bad behavior.
At the Breen dog park, Duncan, Buttons, Bodie, Kipp, Leroy and Dora regularly meet with their owners for some running, chasing, fetching, sniffing and playing. Many have been coming since they were puppies, and their owners have witnessed the positive influence older, more socialized dogs have had on the younger pups. Helping set the example is “the Sheriff” or Dora, a 13-year-old Husky Collie mix owned by Joe and Debra Lippert of St. Charles, who earned her nickname (and badge she wears around her collar) for her ability keep the pups in line.
“The socialization is tremendous for them,” said Jim Frigolett of Elburn, who’s been bringing Buttons, his Pointer mix to the park for six years.
The owners agree they come for the dogs, but they come back for the people – as they met here several years ago and share the camaraderie they may not find elsewhere.
“I call it my therapy,” said Andi Wyer of Geneva, who brings her Golden Doodle Leroy to the park. “I could be in the worst mood, and then I come here, and it’s the highlight of my day.”
While dog parks give pets a chance to exercise without a leash, residents may also take their walking buddies on a leash to community parks and along the 20 miles of trails owned and maintained by the park district.
“All dogs need to be walked, so treat yourself and your dog to the fresh air and beautiful scenery of the Fox River, forest preserves and wetlands along the trails open all day, 365 days a year,” said Erika Young, Park District Marketing Manager.
Recreation for puppies doesn’t stop at the dog parks and trails; the park district includes man’s best friend in their very own doggie parties.
The park district just wrapped up the Doggie Howliday Pawty, complete with photos with Santa and a holiday wear contest, and next year pups and their owners can save the date for the annual Doggie Egg Hunt at 2pm Saturday, April 13, held at the River Bend dog park.
“We have so many dog parks and families with dogs, so we’d thought it’d be a fun way to bring this community of dog lovers together,” said Lara Piner, Park District Supervisor.
The park district also recognizes the emotional loss felt when families lose their loving companions. To honor beloved pets, the St. Charles Park Foundation recently created “Timeless Tags”, a dog memorial at Delnor Woods Park on Route 25.
The steel dog sculpture features welded steel loops to attach pet tags to keep their memory alive. Placing tags on the sculpture is free, but families also can purchase a cast bronze plaque to be mounted on the sculpture’s concrete pedestal for only $300.
“It’s a place for families to take a moment to peacefully and fondly remember their pet,” Young said.
For more information on dog parks, trails and events, visit www.stcparks.org
For more information on the dog memorial, visit www.stcparkfoundation.org