November was an exciting month for Montereau dog owners. The new dog park, Le Bark Park, opened and dozens of dogs joined in the celebration, running off-leash for the first time at Montereau. Since it opened, Ruthie Dillingham and her two and a half year-old dog Cruizer are two of the park’s most frequent visitors. “I was so excited,” said Ruthie. “It keeps me walking too.”
Nearly every day since Le Bark Park’s Grand Opening, Ruthie and Cruizer make the trip from their sixth story apartment, down the elevator, through the Grand Lawn and across the street to the park on the north side of campus. There are plenty of benches for her to sit on while Cruizer makes the rounds, sniffing around the park to see which of his four-legged friends have been there since his last visit. While working his way around the fence line, he typically catches the attention of his friend, Finnegan, who lives in a garden home that backs up to the park. His owner, Sheila Dixon, said he took notice of Cruizer and the other dog park visitors right away.
“He stood at the fence barking, barking, barking and then I realized his tail was wagging,” she said.
At first, Sheila was worried that he may not play nice, but decided to give it a try and bring Finnegan over to Le Bark Park and take him off his leash. Finnegan and Cruizer hit it off right away and a friendship was formed, not only between two canine friends but their owners as well. As the two chase each other around the dog park (Cruizer and Finnegan), the owners sit on a bench chatting about the cooler weather.
Montereau Marketing Director Jamie Townsend says Le Bark Park was part of the community’s five-year strategic plan. “A broad spectrum of current and latest trends in amenities was compiled,” she said. “We collaborated with a resident focus group and surveyed more than a hundred prospective clients to prioritize the most desired amenities.” One of those amenities was a dog park. Montereau’s Director of Plant Operations, Bobby Blose, spent time researching the best areas that would be convenient for Montereau dog owners, without taking away from the current landscape architecture of the community.
It was decided the perfect location would be near the Garden Homes and apartments, where most of the 40 dog owners reside.
Ruthie and Sheila had never met before the opening of Le Bark Park. The two have bonded over their love of dogs and the void they filled in their lives. “I was really lonesome,” Dixon said. “My husband died a year ago, and I had to have my dachshund put to sleep. I had a chance to move into an apartment, but I thought I really want to get a dog and stay here.” She adopted Finnegan from a shelter and decided to stay in their home.
Ruthie says Cruizer keeps her company and gives her life a more meaningful purpose. “He’s my salvation,” she said. “I couldn’t live without my dog.” She and Sheila are looking forward to the many more afternoons they’ll spend sitting on the park benches chatting and meeting others who bring their dogs to Le Bark Park.
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