Who let the dogs in?
It’s great to be a dog in Eagle, and now with improvements to the town’s only dog park, canine enjoyment is better than ever.
Dogs are a big part of Eagle’s social makeup. Not only do Eagle residents adore their own mutts, they seem to genuinely enjoy all hometown hounds. Two hotels in town (Hawthorne Suites and Holiday Inn Express) allow pets, as does the popular Sylvan Lake Campground. The Eagle County Animal Shelter, located at 1400 Fairground Grounds Road, is a big force for animal service in the area, providing sheltering services for around 700 animals per year. It is common knowledge that welcoming staff members and education resources make the shelter unique and many residents find furry new family members at the site.
A place that loves its canines as much as Eagle does is a natural locale for a dog park. After Eagle Ranch dedicated open space to the town of Eagle, the dog park location was chosen in January of 2006. Signs were posted, but that was about the extent of the amenity, until some dedicated Girl Scouts decided downvalley dogs deserved better.
Area fifth through seventh grade girls make up Girl Scout Troop 156. The troop has been together almost eight years, beginning as Girl Scout Daisies in kindergarten. Because the troop members have been together for so long, they decided to tackle a special project — the Bronze Award for the girls still in elementary school and the Silver Award for the middle school Scouts. The respective awards are the Girl Scouts’ highest honors and are given only for sustainable, special programs launched by individuals or troops.
“Over the years, our troop has been supported by the community,” said troop leader Robyn Ritsch. “Our neighbors, friends and businesses have bought cookies from our troop and been involved with our troop over many years, so the girls wanted to give back to the wonderful community we live in.”
Eventually the girls connected their affection for canines with a real community need. They presented their ideas for dog park improvements to many businesses and the town of Eagle and the Eagle Ranch Homeowners Association.
Ritsch, along with Eagle Open Space Coordinator John Staight, became co-managers of the big undertaking to improve the Eagle Dog Park. They were a great team as he worked at the town side of things and she worked out the fund-raising, costs and work plan. The town donated $10,000 and Eagle Ranch donated $5,000. The troop donated more than $3,500 and raised more than $20,000 in monetary and material donations. That’s a lot of money going to the dogs.
Perfect pooch park
With the aid of generous donations and many volunteers, the troop has created an enclosed dog agility course with agility equipment, a training area, a fence along Sylvan Lake Road, added benches, added trees, and a walking trail.
“This is a huge amenity for the community, especially a dog-loving community like Eagle,” said Staight. “Some of the contractors went above and beyond.”
Staight particularly thanked SHC Landscaping, Gallegos Corp. and Alpine Lumber and noted many other businesses also donated to make the park improvements possible.
The big improvements were installed during the first weekend of May, which was rainy and dreary. But the scouts soldiered on with their work.
“The girls worked hard to recruit volunteers and worked diligently for two days,” said Ritsch.
As the girls and other volunteers worked diligently, some stopped to help or observe.
“I was there when they finished,” said Eagle resident Diane Pearce. “The hard work is appreciated by this dog owner and thank you town of Eagle.”
If anyone wants to donate money, materials, or volunteer time to complete a few of the final dog park projects, Ritsch can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. The troop hopes that the canine community enjoys the improved dog park.
“Eagle is an amazing town. The people, the beauty…everything here is a gift,” says Ritsch. “I hope we can all give back and always appreciate the town we live in.”
It would be really hard to spark a wildfire anywhere near Vail Mountain or Beaver Creek right now. Still, unattended campfires will always draw attention.