Two weeks ago, Marathon veterinarian, Mike Dunn, and his wife, Catherine, hosted a “Hot Dogs for Top Dogs” fundraising event at Sombrero Beach. In a letter to the editor, the couple was ecstatic at “what a wonderful demonstration of the fun that can be had when people and their pets get together.”

The anticipation of and support for a dog park is clearly growing.

From a gold party and dog wash to beachside celebrations and animal blessings, the Friends of the Marathon Dog Park have raised over $16,000 towards their initial goal of $25,000. After a year of studying other dog park designs in Key West and Islamorada, this grassroots effort received approval from the Marathon city council back in March to begin raising money for construction.

Funds raised will help fund the biggest expense at the park, the fencing. They will also go towards signage, pet waste dispensers and bags, trash receptacles and water access.

Friends’ spokeswoman Mary Stella said it is very important to remember that the group has already accomplished so much toward their goal, and they only began in earnest Memorial Day weekend.

“People coming to these events have been more than generous in opening their hearts as well as their bank accounts in this tough economy,” Stella noted.

Though there’s been a small opposition to the site location at Rotary Park on 75th Street and it’s proximity to the children’s play area, the entrance is what Stella casually refers to as a “vestibule”. This double-gated entry system, typical of most dog parks, allows a space for owners to enter the park with their dogs on a leash and then opt for either a small or large dog area. This design, she said, is optimal not only for the safety of the dogs in the park but the people outside the gated areas, as well.

Once the infrastructure for the park is in place, the group will continue their efforts for maintenance and possible future improvements.

“People who care enough to bring their dog to a park care enough to maintain it and its original purpose,” Stella assured.

After approximately eight fundraisers to date, two more events in the coming weeks promise to continue the momentum.

On Thursday, Oct. 15, Dockside Lounge will host a Barktail Party in honor of the top dog contenders; Salty and Roxy, owned by Kim Teal of Teal Technologies, Inc. Jo Mama will rock the dock with plenty of appetizers and drink specials available. SUFA will spotlight a dog in need of adoption and a blessing of the animals will take place.

On Sunday, Oct. 18, pirates, princesses, and pooches in all sorts of costumes are invited to participate in the Pet Masquerade at Community Park. Entry fee is $10 and prizes will be awarded in the Scariest, Funniest, Most Original, and Best Pet-Owner Lookalike categories and Best in Show. Contestants can sign up from 11 am to 12:45 pm. The parade and judging will begin at 1:30 pm. The contest is part of Barktoberfest, organized by Friends of the Marathon Dog Park and Stand Up for Animals. In addition to the masquerade, the fun-filled event will feature food prepared by Centennial Bank, beverages by the Marathon Jaycees, snow cones, pet portraits, a dog wash, massages for people, face painting, pet clothes and products, an Ask the Vet booth and much more!

Barktoberfest will take place at the pavilion at Community Park from 11 am to 3 pm.

For more information or to make a donation, please call 743-4060 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Blair Shiver is the Weekly Staff Writer. She can be reached via email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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