as published in the Mountain Mail on April 6, 2018...
Salida Dog Club officially became a nonprofit corporation on July 23, 2009. The mission statement of this organization was, and is, “A club to promote safe recreational and educational activities for dogs and their owners within the community and the upper Arkansas Valley.”
Since inception, the club has done a lot to fulfill its mission. Its most notable accomplishment is, of course, the creation of Loyal Duke’s Dog Park. Fundraisers, memberships, donations, sponsorships, etc., accumulated the funds to create the park. Initially there was skepticism as to whether the park was needed. Now it is recognized as one of the more popular parks in Salida and is maintained as part of the city park system.
Some of the club activities that have evolved include a weekly newspaper column, dog races, Dog Daze, parades, “garage sales” at the dog park, a dog birthday party at the park, Wag Time Dancers (a dog dance group), Therapy Dogs of Chaffee County (a therapy dog network), formation of the Dog Park Advisory Committee (consisting of representatives from the dog club, city and school district), Friends of Loyal Duke (a group involved in the renovation of Loyal Duke’s gravesite), agility practice groups, and continued improvements of the dog park.
In July of 2017, Friends of Loyal Duke had a dedication ceremony at Loyal Duke’s gravesite. This was the culmination of many planning meetings, several generous donations, and the hard work of a core group of folks. The result was the major renovation of the historic gravesite on Tenderfoot Mountain, with a new plaque attached. The group is still working on improving the site with an additional plaque that includes a more detailed narrative and perhaps some photos.
Just within the past month, the dog park advisory committee implemented the plans to improve the surface of the dog park. In a recent Letter to the Editor, appreciation was expressed to all the dog park supporters who showed up to clean up the dog park. Two “mystery” volunteers (later exposed as Butch Miller and Ty Samuelson) donated their time on a Saturday to haul 13 loads and over 200 tons of road base to the park. The city then had to do only a very minor rearranging of some of the road base because of the awesome job Butch and Ty had done.
On Sunday May 20th, Ark Valley Humane Society is collaboratively planning a run/walk for animals with Salida Dog Club and Salida Recreation Program that will be finishing at Loyal Duke’s Dog Park. This event is called Tails on the Trails and is a family and dog-friendly 5K to benefit the lifesaving work at Ark-Valley Humane Society. The last day to register and get a guaranteed race T-shirt for this event is April 23rd. Registrations can be done through the website link, www.Ark-Valley.org/TailsontheTrail
On May 19, Therapy Dogs of Chaffee County is jointly setting up a table with Paws for a Cause (part of Full Circle Restorative Justice) at the upcoming Engaging in Aging event. This will be a free senior fair and the therapy dog groups will be both displaying and demonstrating the benefits of therapy dogs.
Once upon a time, not too long ago, Salida was considered to not be dog friendly because of all the parks having signs reading “No Pets” or “No Dogs Allowed.” The same verbiage remains but more and more dogs are being warmly invited to such unlikely places and events such as the hospital, nursing homes, restorative justice circles, tonsillectomy days, parades, schools, run/walks, senior fairs, etc. Go figure!
Laura Pintane is a local dog trainer and is a big advocate of safe, recreational, and educational activities for dogs.