SADLY WE HAVE HAD TO GIVE UP OUR DREAM OF A DOG PARK DUE TO THE FACT THAT WE COULD NOT FIND INSURANCE COVERAGE. PERHAPS SOME DAY IF THE WORLD CHANGES WE CAN AGAIN BRING OUR DREAM TO LIFE.

Hands of Hope seeks help for Dog Park in Oxford

By Kathleen McGwin

Think of it as a community center for dogs and their owners. Hands of Hope, the volunteer friend’s organization for Eyes of Hope no kill animal shelter in Oxford, has a dream and is looking for individual, business, and community support to make it come true. Their dream is a fenced dog park where dog owners and their best four legged pals can come to socialize, exercise, and have some outdoor fun.

“Dogs need to be socialized and benefit from social interaction just like people,” said Kris Steffens, who, with her husband Dan, own and operate the non-profit Eyes of Hope Shelter and furry Acres Kennel. Steffens said this is especially necessary in rural areas where dogs are often more isolated and don’t have a chance to regularly mingle with their own species if they live in the country.

Volunteers Ed and Jan Goralski of Oxford started the Hands of Hope support group last year and published the first Hopeful Times Newsletter in January of 2011. Hands of Hope welcomes new members and is the energy behind the dog park project. They also have a Junior Hands of Hope youth group whose members are active in raising donations with dog washes, walk the dogs at the shelter regularly, and do other activities for the animals waiting for adoption.

The dog park will be located next to Eyes of Hope Shelter. They need donations of money, labor, and fencing and other items like benches and a shelter. The park will start out at 100 by 100 feet and will have a double gate system so owners entering and leaving can use separate gates. That’s a safety feature, said Steffens, and there will be rules that will also be in place to assure the dog park experience is a positive one for all users.
Dogs will have to be under the owner’s control at all times and will have to be up to date on all vaccinations. There will be a membership and/or one time use fee for the park and future plans include a separate space for small dogs.

“This really is an asset to the community of Oxford,” said Jan Goralski. “The park will help make dog’s better citizens with fewer behavior problems and it will be a place for people to socialize, too.  People who have something in common will get together at the dog park.”

Besides donations and user fees, Hands of Hope will offer advertising space for businesses on the fence. Upcoming events include at booth at Oxford’s Fall Fest on October 1 and the great annual Dogtoberfest at Eyes of Hope on October 15. You don’t want to miss the fun or a chance to help make the dog park a reality.

Eyes of Hope has adopted out 320 dogs in its three years of operation. That’s over 100 dogs a year that otherwise would have been euthanized, abandoned, or left with few options. To donate or learn more about Eyes of Hope and Hands of Hope go to www.eyesofhopeshelter.com. You can donate with PayPal and designate if your donation is for the dog park or general support. Eyes of Hope also needs volunteers to walk dogs, clean pens, and do counter work. The Shelter sells t-shirts and other items and can always use donations of food, blankets, and cleaning supplies.

Dogs are human’s best friends and give companionship, protection, and love to their owners. Now you can help give dogs a park where they can run free and play with their own pals.