Dog Gone Park

Angel Fire has dogs. Lots of dogs. Lots of rescue dogs. But no dog park.

by Jacqui Binford-Bell

No fenced backyards. Dog exercise, socialization and human activities were centered around trekking with your dog and your friends and their dogs on the miles of green belts and  trails in the resort area. When the pandemic locked down the humans it also locked down the dogs. Suspension of human interaction meant suspension of canine socialization.

Bernese Mountain Dog, Metta, is one happy camper. ‘She never has a bad day,’ according to Dog Gone Park enjoyment hound and founder, Jaqui Binford-Bell. Courtesy Dog Gone Park

Humans when they missed their coffee buddies could telephone or face time or zoom. But the dogs also missed their friends. Veterinarians began to notice signs of separation anxiety in dogs. Separation from their normal activities like group walks and other dogs. Dogs are spending more time with their owners during the coronavirus pandemic but leaving for a couple hours to grocery shop would trigger separation anxiety and misbehavior like barking or pooping in the house. Dog trainers were at first puzzled. Were not the dogs enjoying the perfect life with their humans 24/7?

I had started a “open” kennel a few years before because I like dogs a lot. I started small with Summer, a golden retriever of a friend of mine. Summer suddenly decided she didn’t like the camping trailer so she stayed with me at my house with a large fenced yard. I was home the majority of the time in my studio. Over time other friends who liked to travel more then their dogs also took up temporary residence. Most were rescue dogs and the owners did not feel comfortable putting them in the standard kennel experience.

When the pandemic cancelled everyone’s travel plants I was clearly going to miss my dog visitors as were my dogs. But it soon became clear that owners and dogs were not exactly happy with all day every day together. I decided to expand the dog experience and opened Dog Gone Park. The installation of a double gate system means dogs can be dropped off at gate one and enter the backyard through gate two with no human to human contact. Humans wear masks. Dogs don’t. Twice a week pre-screened dogs with all their shots can be dropped off at Dog Gone Park to romp with their canine friends in the fenced half acre yard.

They recognize each other and even know the names of their four legged friends. And the turns their owners take to drop them off. Every Tuesday and Friday owners get a time off from 24/7 with their fur kids who get to romp off leash with their buddies. The only rules are to get along with everyone and to go home tired from running and playing.

The Facebook Group Dog Gone Park allows owners to check in on their pets through photos and videos posted there. Separation anxiety problem solved.