Video Feature: Dog Park Complete But Eagle Scout Still Needs Contributions

Chet Hobert Park in Berryville, Virginia, a popular recreation and social destination for area residents, is also now a place for Clarke County’s canine citizens to meet and exercise thanks to the hard work of soon-to-be University of Virginia freshman Daniel Judge.

Eagle Scout and dog park developer Daniel Judge with Lucy. Judge says that the dog park still isn’t fully funded and is requesting financial support from area residents – Photo Edward Leonard

Judge, who is also president of this summer’s Clarke County High School graduating class of 2012, has spent much of the year designing, fund raising and building an off-leash dog park to meet his Boy Scout Eagle project requirement.

“After having spent 6 months on this project it is definitely a relief to see it completed, but for me, all of the joy of this project will come from seeing dogs enjoying themselves in the park,” Judge said. “I’m really looking forward to opening the park this Saturday, because for the first time we will be able to see dogs in action in the park. I think at that point it will all come together for me.”

At the dog park’s official opening on Saturday, local residents and their canine companions unanimously supported and praised Judge for his work.

“This is a great addition to Chet Hobert Park because it provides a place where pets can play without a leash,” said Clarke County Parks and Recreation director Lisa Cooke. “Daniel has done a really professional job on this project.”

Parks and recreation staff member Shannon Martin, who attended the ceremony with her two dogs, a bull terrier named Chloe and a miniature pinscher called Peanut, agreed.

“A lot of people walk their dogs here at the park,” Martin said. “This is a very nice addition to our facility.”

Judge said that the effort to build the park taught him not only about the challenges of fund raising but also helped him understand how important community interest groups are in accomplishing civic improvements.

“The difficulty of having to raise the funds – we are still seeking donations – and the complexity of the approval processes surprised me. I knew that raising five thousand dollars wouldn’t be a walk in the park, but it truly was one of the most difficult tasks that I encountered,” Judge said. “The other surprise was how significant the Clarke County Humane Foundation is. Not many people appreciate just how much the Humane Foundation does in supporting animals in Clarke County. The Humane Foundation helped me to seek donations, spread the word about the dog park, and donated signs for the park. They also had experience in large projects, like building the animal shelter, and they were more than willing to share their expertise with me.”

While Judge is a dog lover himself – family pet Lucy was the first dog through the dog park gates on Saturday morning – the project was meant to satisfy the community service aspect of his Boy Scout Eagle project. Judge said that he believes that seeing his Boy Scout experience through to its highest reward will play an important role as he moves into the next stage of his life.

“Overall my Scouting experience has been very positive,” Judge reflected. “Scouting teaches young men how to live by a moral code, how to influence their surroundings, and how to take care of themselves and others. It’s given me life experience that I consider invaluable.”

A new off leash dog park is now open at Chet Hobert Park in Berryville, Virginia – Photo Edward Leonard

Judge said that his favorite aspect of Scouting is the wide array of different subjects that it has introduced him to.

“Through merit badges and rank advancement requirements I was exposed to subjects that I otherwise would have never encountered,” Judge continued. “The merit badge that I am most proud of earning is my Insect Study Merit Badge. One summer my dad told me to choose a merit badge, one that I would normally never think of choosing, and the two of us would spend all summer working on it. I randomly chose Insect Study, and for the rest of the summer my dad and I spent every day collecting over 75 insects. We labeled them, built cases for them, and preserved them. It was incredibly tedious but I absolutely loved it. Since then I have always had an interest in entomology. So Scouting introduced me to a hobby and an interest that I otherwise would have never been exposed to.”

Clarke County Supervisor chairman Michael Hobert (Berryville), who also attended Saturday morning’s ceremony, said that Judge’s dog park project was the latest example in a long tradition of delivering park improvements through private-public partnerships.

“This is an excellent addition to the park facility,” Hobert said. “Organizations and individuals came from all directions to make it happen. I think that it’s a great example of the kind of result that can happen when citizens and government work together.’

But even though the dog park is now operational, the bill for the facility has not been fully covered by donations.

Judge said that in order to complete the dog park project in time to attend college this fall, Judge said that it was necessary to finance a portion of the project’s cost using his own funds and is asking the for public support to cover the full cost.

“I’d appreciate any help that people are willing to provide,” Judge said. “Individuals that would like to contribute to the new dog park can do so through the Clarke County Department of Parks and Recreation.”

Judge plans to study both business finance and philosophy later this fall at the University of Virginia.

View video of the dog park grand opening here:

Comments

  1. Loving Clarke County says:

    WOOF!

  2. ElinorDashwood says:

    I enjoy walking my dog at the park but this will be a welcome change for her. What a worthwhile project, thank you Daniel! Is there an address or contact in case someone wants to send a little something to help with the costs?

    • “I’d appreciate any help that people are willing to provide,” Judge said. “Individuals that would like to contribute to the new dog park can do so through the Clarke County Department of Parks and Recreation.”

  3. Reach Hi says:

    Outstanding job Daniel! You have been an inspiration to my boys from the day they met you, and this is a just another fine example of the young man you are! It’s great to see our youth determined to make it happen!

  4. Dog Lover says:

    What about like a dog slide or a dog swing? Have all the people park toys but for dogs!

  5. Wondering says:

    Great news about the dog park. Where is this park located?

  6. In my opinion, the park admininstration in charge of this should visit Winchester’s dog park for some ideas. Here are a couple, grass and trees. The kid tried, but c’mon. He should try running around barefoot on this surface, especially on a hot day. Why does it have to be a flat gravel area. Dogs don’t mind a little terrain. This could have been so much more cost effectively. Anyway, it’s a start. Now let’s fix it. This is my opinion about the “dog park (?)”

    • Anonymous says:

      I’am glad we have a dog park, but there are some problems.
      Mr. Judge had a plan and tried to do a great thing, but ask some dog owners, google dog parks, the park is lacking some basic features.It’s not that hard.
      Why 8′ high fence? The entrance should have a double gate to prevent dogs in the park from getting out any time another dog enter! The 8′ high fence enclosure, frankly is an eye sore. I’am surprised with how restrictive this county is with business and architecture is was allowed.When I placed my dogs in there they walked around, and then sat by the exit wanting to leave. I wish I had a picture. Not trying to be negetive, but it needs work. And yes, I contributed already.

      • Rice St. Resident says:

        I definitely second having the double gate, that is a normally common feature at dog parks. I do wish that they had left the grass. In high traffic dog parks, you have no choice but to put gravel, but in this case, it won’t get 40-50 dogs a day, and I think the grass could have/would have survived.

  7. PineGrover says:

    Great job. Come on dog lovers, open up them wallets and get this paid for. If there’s extra, do as sid suggested – add to it. I’m sure sid will be chipping as have we.

  8. Great Job by this young man. Now, what is the fee structure for using the park going to be? Parks and Rec. I am sure will want a fee to use the park.

  9. Linda A Hansen says:

    It is a good idea but far from a finished product for the dog park. I agree with Sid. The area should have had a couple trees to cool off under and a little incline would be a bonus. My bloodhound was the only large dog that came to the opening. Even if Ms.Cook’s little 35 lb. dog doesn’t mind large dogs, I think that the minimum for large dog section should have been at least 50 lbs. A water hydrant is coming sooooon I understand but was needed on the opening day. Even the door/gates were not inspected as they needed to open ‘into’ the dog space NOT out. This caused some problems immediately with dogs and folks coming in and out. Perhaps the opening should have been delayed til later August or even Sept to have all the problems taken care of and possiblity more folks attending. Thanks to Daniel for at least getting the idea going.

  10. Dog Owner says:

    The young man should be complimented for the effort, but a basic feature of any dog park is a double gate, so you can close one before opening the other, to prevent escapees.

  11. Daniel Judge says:

    Thanks for the questions, comments, concerns, and complaints. Just a few answers for people wondering.
    1) Donations: Checks can be made out to the “Treasurer of Clarke County”, memo note “Dog Park” and sent to 101 Chalmers Court P.O. Box 537 Berryville, Virginia 22611. Thanks to all who donated and are planning on donating!
    2) We did our research and talked to Dog Park Managers from across the state. Gravel was chosen because it is very low maintenance, sanitary, and has optimal drainage. True it would hurt for me to run around barefoot, but dogs paws are much tougher than our feet, and it is the exact same grade gravel as the park trail and dogs seem fine on that. The 8 foot fence was recommended to us because other parks have had dogs get over a 5 foot fence, but it is quite large, I agree.
    3) There are trees in the park.
    4) Water Source and toys are coming soon hopefully, however they are dependent on funds. It is incredibly surprising at the costs of these items.
    5) Ms. Hansen, I am sorry your dog was the largest there. But I would encourage you to invite other large dogs to the park, we would love to have them!
    6) We opened the park at this time because it was required for my eagle project, people had already started using it, and I am leaving for college very soon.
    7) The park is FREE. When I pitched the idea to the Parks Board I was adamant that it be available to everyone for free, because it is meant to help the dogs, and I do not want any dogs access to be limited by funds.
    8) My project has always been stated as: “to build a basic dog park for Chet Hobert Park.” Please help to build the park around your ideas! I am confident that the parks board will remain open to input.

    Thanks for all the input! And I hope you are able to enjoy the park despite some of its flaws!

    • You did good, young man. Congratulations and may your future be bright!

    • Thank you for your response. I went to the dog park last evening. It is much better in person than the pics and videos show. You did a great job. I will bring my dog there this weekend. Keep up the good work and thank you for bringing this to our community.

    • Thanks for the info Daniel. My comments about fees still stands, I started coaching baseball in the park in 1991 and there were no fees to use the fields. Volunteers built several of the fields, with funds, material and labor donated by volunteers. The volunteers maintained the fields for a long time. But now the not for profit teams have to pay a fee to use the park fields. I can see the same thing happening to the dog park as time rolls by. I hope not. But i would not wager against it not happening.

    • Daniel, You did an an outstanding job and provided a service to the community that will be used for years to come.

      I do have to tell you that I am a bit concerned when I called up to Parks & Rec the other day asking what was needed in order to gain access to the dog park. I was told “I think all you need to do is show up.” I was taken back by that reply considering all dog parks must ask for proof of vaccine history for each dog that will access the park….nothing like that exists for the dog park. When you did your research, I’m surprised this issue didn’t come up. If I go to the dog park with my dogs and another dog bites me and is not up to date on their vaccines, that is a lawsuit waiting to happen and since the dog park is on CCPR property, I’m suing them….point blank. Someone must take this seriously and change that immediately. ALL dogs must have updated vaccine history. Do what Jim Barnett Park does: in order to gain access to the dog park you must have a key and the only way to get that key is to provide updated and current vaccine history for each dog.

      This must be a mandatory step to ensure the safety of everyone that walks into that park. I’m surprised CCPR is ok with the policy as it is. I would assume they would want to eliminate any possibility of any lawsuits from this.

      Again, You truly did an outstanding job and it is not going unnoticed. Bravo!

      • life is good says:

        Dogs should have tags showing they’ve been vaccinated.

      • Chuck E. Cheese says:

        To eliminate any problems, the park should allow your dog, but ask you to please stay home. Everyone is always thinking about a free ride over something!

  12. Excellent job on the dog park. I can’t wait to take my dog there. And thank you for doing something others have only talked about.
    For those who have complaints, the good thing is you are not forced to go there. It’s free to the public and the funds were raised from donations. Appreciate the fact that this young man put a lot of sweat, blood, and effort into this task.

    • life is good says:

      I agree E! Good job young man, you should be proud!

    • My observation of the mandatory vaccine policy is not a complaint or a gripe-it is a justified and much needed policy that must be enforced immediately otherwise a huge legal issue will take place if this guideline is not put into effect.

      Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

      • Sam Card says:

        Why the need for a mandatory vaccine policy? Thank you Daniel for your project. My grandparents are the Renshaws and they would be proud that you are an eagle scout.

      • Realistic Joe says:

        Lucy. Thanks for the warning and please take your dogs to Jim Barnett Park where you are certain you will be safe and not have to sue.

        • Sheryl Reid says:

          All dogs who are in Clarke County or Town of Berryville must be have dogs tags. A dog tag requires that the dogs have its rabies shot.

          • So your theory of “all dogs who are in Clarke County or Town of Berryville must have dog license” means that everyone follows that law? Thats like assuming that all people who drive have insurance.

            Sam, All dogs are required by law to have updated vaccines whenever a dog is either boarded with other dogs, goes in for a grooming or is around other dogs…why? For the safety of the dogs and the people, period….why should our dog park be any different?

          • Mr Mister says:

            Right ,because every driver on the road has insurance. It’s required, but doesn’t happen. It would be a shame if a child was bitten while in the dog park.

          • Actually, it is a state regulation that all dogs and cats over the age of 4 months be vaccinated for rabies. http://www.animallaw.info/statutes/stusvast3_1_796_66_89.htm#s6521

  13. Thank you so much Right Winger. Now if we only knew where soccer field 1 is…that’s what’s so great about Clarke County. All these parks but never does anyone give directions how to get there.

  14. Missing Clarke County says:

    The Dog Park article states that Mike Hobert “said that Judge’s dog park project was the latest example in a long tradition of delivering park improvements through private-public partnerships”. Clarke County elected officials have always been narrow-minded and short-sighted when it comes to the funding of public improvements. The building of the first and second Clarke County High School’s is a perfect example. Chet Hobert Park would not be what it is today if the citizens of Clarke County had not volunteered, donated and given their time and talents making things happen at the park. But Smitty is correct in his statement concerning volunteers building facilities at the park and then getting charged fees. This was an unfortunate result of changes in elected officials and County administration in the mid to late 1990’s.

  15. Realistic Joe says:

    Daniel Judge – Outstanding job! Your project choice is an enhancement to the park!

  16. Sargewillis says:

    Tried it last evening, not a soul in sight, but my two dogs loved it. Thanks Daniel!

  17. Great day at the park! Right away had to check out the tall shade trees (the one in the middle smells best). Then sniffed around every green patch of grass (looking for wildlife) then inspected the fence line (very safe). I prefer the larger dog park and loved being free of my leash. My master was happy to rest at the picnic table until I was ready to return to the trail.

    We discovered a water hose by the playground (used a sand toy for a water dish) and made a new friend named Chloe. Lot of tail-wagging going on today!

  18. ANOTHER great day at the dog park! Sniffed everything, ran around, didn’t want to go when it was time:(
    Thank you Daniel (and Lucy!). We’ll be donating a few items to keep it interesting… Hope to meet new friends there soon!