By Mary Owen
Stayton’s Happy Tails Dog Park is one step closer to becoming a reality.
“At our last meeting, we formed committee groups to do research for grants, fundraising and park design,” said Rèse Bourdeau, who was instrumental in getting the project going.
“This is a project that is very dear to my heart because of my parents. Almost daily a few years ago my Dad and I would load his Boston Terrier into his truck and go up to the Halsey Street Dog Park in Portland where for a few minutes I would see him relax, and sometimes even smile with people.
“What the other dog park visitors didn’t know was that my mom, his wife of 60 years, was home in their living room on a hospice bed,” she said. “During those precious few weeks, I realized that a dog park is about way more than just dogs.”
Cosmos, the Boston Terrier, now lives with Bourdeau’s niece, Chanel Bourdeau.
“Both of them just graduated from college last year,” she fondly said.
Bourdeau cites studies showing dog parks follow schools as the motivator for moving into a new neighborhood.
“Vacations are now being planned with online searches for dog amenities,” she added.
Funds to make the park a reality are being raised through a Leader of the Park major campaign to local businesses, Schindler said.
“We are also working on ideas for a community fundraising project which may include memorial bricks and dog-art plaques, but that is still in the planning stages,” she said.
Bourdeau said the proposed Stayton dog park has been in the works for more than four years. The project failed to win the interest of the Ford Foundation, but was resurrected recently when the original project selected fell through, she said.
“About seven months ago, I was contact by Stayton City Planner Lance Ludwick and asked to resurrect the dog park. Toward that, there is a great team of local businesses and volunteers who have stepped up to make it happen!”
Volunteers are now seeking community partners, Bourdeau said.
“The Stayton City Council, Planning Commission and Parks Board voted to approve a location at 4th and Florence, and a $25,000 matching funds challenge which ends in June,” she said. “The Ford Foundation has contributed $1,025 for the first bench, and over $2,000 has already been raised in personal donations.”
Happy Tails will boast a fence and off-leash area for both small and large dogs. Projected uses include obedience classes, free or low-cost clinics, and other events.
When completed, the park will open up “a new reason to walk through Old Town,” Bourdeau said.
“This area is perfect!” she added. “We hope to have major funding wrapped up by April so that Happy Tails is open the beginning of summer.”
Bourdeau and other supporters are happy to finally have a dog park nearby without having to travel to other cities.
“Isn’t a dog park clearly preventative care for our canine pets?” she asked. “If people have a safe space to exercise and socialize their dogs, many of the very behaviors that cause people to relinquish ownership could be alleviated.”
Tricia McCain, designer of the Happy Tails logo, is admittedly a cat person, but she said, “If I had a dog, I would love the benefit of a community dog park where I could walk my dog in a safe environment for us both.”
For dog owners, she hopes the proposed park will be landscaped with an engineered design that prevents “a soggy, muddy and unusable place on those extra rainy days.”
The dog park, she said, will let people enjoy the Tails and community parks without fear of off-leash dogs.
“And less poo!” she added.
Bourdeau encourages interested individuals to attend a Happy Tails Dog Park supporters meeting, held at 7:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month in the Stayton Library Conference Room.
“There’s still plenty to do as the park vision materializes, so come with your ideas and input,” Bourdeau said.
To donate, make checks out to The Santiam Community Endowment, Inc. and attach a slip designating “dog park.” Either deposit at or mail to NW Preferred Federal Credit Union, 393 E. Florence St., Stayton, OR 97383.
In-kind donations for benches, a drinking fountain, bag station, or other components of the park are welcomed. All donations are tax-deductible.
For more information, call Mayor Hank Porter at 503-769-5792.