Hondo Heaven

A beneficial result of adding HondoDogPark to Hillsboro’s park inventory was the formation of the citizen volunteer group–Hillsboro Dog Association. This group consists of more than 15 residents, and their mission is to enhance the quality of life of pets and pet owners through education and support of dog parks and other animal facilities in the community. The members were instrumental in the design and promotion of the park and the opening day celebration event. The Association also officially adopted the park through the department’s Adopt-a-Park program, and is involved with ongoing park beautification and dog owner education. This citizen-government partnership has been fruitful for both organizations, and the community has and will reap the benefits.

In summer 2007, with new grass beginning to grow and planning underway for a park grand opening celebration in the fall, a valuable partnership was also formed with the Hillsboro Police Department. The police proposed holding its annual “Responsible Dog Ownership Day” in conjunction with the park opening. It was a perfect match, and the day brought upwards of 600 people out–even on a damp, grey Oregon day–to see the new park, watch agility and fly ball demos, and visit more than 20 dog owner resource booths.

Enjoying The Perks

Since its opening, the park has been well utilized. Dogs bring their people from Hillsboro and throughout the Portland metro area to enjoy the space and amenities. However, while the city’s parks and recreation department is an expert on people parks and facilities, the dog park has presented its own unique challenges. Educating dog owners about park rules and being a responsible dog park user continues to be a main focus. For example, many well-intentioned dog owners don’t understand that eating their lunch while their dog plays, or rewarding their dog with treats in the park, is unsafe because food causes aggression in many dogs. Another challenge has been facilitating temporary closures of the two grassy areas of the park to let the grass recover from heavy winter use and rains in order to maintain a safe environment. We have also experienced challenges with maintaining a secure fence line. As the soil and new landscaping settled, various gaps formed at the bottom of the fence and needed to be closed to prevent small dogs from escaping the secure enclosure.

While creating and operating the park has not been without challenges common to first-time projects, the outcome is a gorgeous, new off-leash dog park with tremendous community support. Here are just a few of the positive comments we’ve heard from residents:

“The park is absolutely beautiful! And it’s great to see people that I’ve seen before on our daily walks.”

“I can’t tell you how happy I am to finally have an off-leash dog park in Hillsboro. I have been many times since the recent opening, and my small dogs and I always have a great time there.”

“Hondo Dog Park is wonderful and I plan to spend a lot of time there. My thanks to all the people who contributed to this wonderful project.”

In fact, now only a few months after opening Hondo Dog Park, we’re already hearing, “When are you building the next dog park?”

Corinne Bloomfield is the Community Resources Manager for City of Hillsboro Parks & Recreation. She can be reached via e-mail at corinneb@ci.hillsboro.or.us.

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