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The Red Leash

Liz was smitten with Cooper the second she saw him. A friend told her that the local animal shelter was in the midst of an overcrowding problem and needed more than a few dogs to be adopted, so they were offering half off adoptions that weekend. Eager for a fur friend to keep her company, Liz pounced on the opportunity.

Cooper was seated towards the back of a small cage. The pup, a yellow lab with floppy ears that nearly covered his eyes, perked up when he spotted Liz. It was as if Cooper knew she was there to get him.

The cage opened, Liz picked him up and fastened a red leash to his new collar.

Liz lived in a sleek, high-rise apartment in Midtown. Their daily excursions consisted of a morning and nightly walk around the concrete jungle. Whenever Liz so much as looked in the direction of the red leash, Cooper would jump with excitement. He was so excited on these walks that he’d pull and pull away from the leash, eager for a chance to discover the world around him.

As time went on, however, the pulling began to lessen.  The red leash was no longer consistently taut.

Liz noticed this change of demeanor in Cooper, from the lively ball of energy that happily accompanied her on morning strolls, to something more somber…sadder. Liz asked friends in the area what she should do. They suggested things like changing his diet, buying him new toys, and giving him treats more often. She tried them all, but nothing seemed to work.

Her parents called to let her know about a dog park they’d heard about at Piedmont Park. Fortunately, the Park was only a few short blocks away!

She hurried home and got Cooper’s red leash from its hook.

When they took a turn they didn’t usually take on their walks, Cooper peered back at Liz to make sure they weren’t lost. He’d been his usual self—calm, slightly subdued.

Finally, they caught sight of the dog park, a huge expanse of mulched land, shaded by surrounding trees. Liz opened the gates to the park one by one. When they were inside, she reached down to unclip Cooper’s red leash. Cooper stood there.

Having become so used to keeping his red leash on while outside, Cooper didn’t realize it was off!

Liz encouraged him to go play with a little nudge. When he realized that his collar wasn’t connected to his leash, he barked happily and made a mad dash for a group of other fur friends huddled around the agility course. This was the most spirited Liz had seen him in weeks! He was running around, sticking his nose in new places and wagging his tail so hard, Liz thought it might fly off. She placed the red leash in her purse and watched Cooper explore.

Nowadays, Liz and Cooper visit the dog park on a weekly basis. Cooper couldn’t be happier with their new routine. He finally feels free to explore and is always ready to discover something new in nature. His red leash is no longer holding him back.

Greenspace is imperative in any large city. Benefits like improved air quality, resource conservation, urban beautification and space for anyone to roam around freely surrounded by nature are what make having it so important. The Piedmont Park Conservancy is proud to be a part of the effort to keep greenspaces like Piedmont Park safe, well-maintained and open for all to enjoy—including pups like Cooper!

Six Dogs Compete in Piedmont Park Dog of the Year Finals

Sookie, 2-year-old Samoyed, crowned winner

The contest took place in Piedmont Park’s small dog park and the finalists were all visibly excited to showcase their abilities. The doggos were to be judged on their behavior and charisma. While the finalists prepared for their routines, attendees enjoyed the wide array of goodies available including free King of Pops. As the humans mingled and the dogs played with the tennis balls scattered across the park, anticipation mounted for which pup would become Piedmont Park’s Dog of the Year.

At 11 a.m. the finalists lined up behind the stage, eager to strut their stuff. One by one, the dogs crossed the stage to cheers and hollers from the growing crowd for a pooch parade. After the parade, the finalists went into their individual performances.

Charlie, a golden doodle from Chamblee, showed off his sitting and walking skills. A 5-year-old Siberian husky named Azlan sang along to his owner’s harmonica and Bear, a 1-year-old Australian and German shepherd mix demonstrated his handshake skills. Sookie the Samoyed surprised the crowd by jumping through a hula hoop to catch her favorite toy—a tennis ball. Showcasing her expert running skills, Barefoot, an 18-month-old Siberian husky sprinted across the park. Finishing out the routines was Boston, a golden retriever who shook paws with his owner.

Ponce, our honorary judge and the winner of last year’s contest joined judges from Bark ATL, Dancing Dogs Yoga, and the Piedmont Park Conservancy to make final deliberations. After a short wait, Sookie was announced as the winner!

Sookie swept the judges off their feet with her hula hoop performance and charming charisma. We are so excited to have her as our Dog of the Year and look forward to having her help in promoting the Piedmont Park Conservancy’s vital role in enhancing one of the best places in Atlanta for pups—the Piedmont Park dog parks. For more information on our dog-friendly events and to support the dog parks visit: piedmontpark.org/dogparks

Photo Credit: OldSpeak Creative

 

Guest Post by Aliya Seymour

First Day of Summer: Are you in the know?

Although the heat has been blazing in Atlanta for the past couple of months, June 21st marked the first official day of summer. Now that the season is finally here, the question is how to spend it? To make this summer one to remember, head to Piedmont Park and involve the family in some outdoor fun! Whether it’s swimming the afternoon away or going to one of the Park’s many events, Piedmont Park has plenty of options for how you can make the most of the warm weather and clear skies–all in Atlanta’s backyard.

Events, Events and More Events

For an exciting weekend activity, rally up your crew and add a Park event to your summer schedule. For starters, the Horizon Theatre will be performing their hit musical, “Freaky Friday” on the Promenade through June 23. Attendees can bring blankets, low-back chairs and a picnic packed with dinner for a night of song, dance and boisterous laughter! With July arrives our Runaway Bride 5K, an event dedicated to the brides, grooms, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and “always-a-guests” out there looking for an excuse to flex their running/walking chops (and get a free t-shirt while they’re at it.) Dog lovers should check out a pup-friendly dog contest happening in early August at which one lucky dog will be named Piedmont Park’s Dog of the Year.

Don’t Forget the Sunscreen!

Grab your towels and pool supplies for a cool down at Piedmont Park’s popular Aquatic Center, which features a pool with four lap lanes and plenty of shaded tables. There’s also the Legacy Fountain Splash Pad, a popular spot for kids who enjoy zig-zagging through its 70 jets. When you get hungry, check out our concessions: King of Pops, offering ice-cold popsicles or The Market where you can indulge in a savory lunch with options like the “Slow Pork & Mango Cuban” sandwich and the “Heart of the Park” hot dog.

Bikes R Us

Imagine this: You’re on a bike, cool air graces your face with each tire rotation and you’re surrounded by lush greenery. This could be you at Piedmont Park, where visitors can pedal on paved paths that lead to every corner of the Park for ample exploration. No bike? No problem. Atlanta’s low-cost Relay Bike Share bicycles are available to rent, allowing anyone to hop off their ride at seemingly every turn to take in the beautiful scenery.

Learn Something New!

Take a leisurely stroll through the Park and learn some interesting tidbits about the Park’s storied past by going on one of our free docent-led history tours. Lead yourself on a self-guided tour to explore the most photographed locations in the Park or make a game of spotting the some of the oldest trees in Atlanta. Bird walks are offered in collaboration with the Atlanta Audubon Society; hone your observation skills and impress your friends with your newfound knowledge of unique bird calls.

Don’t Miss Our Future Events!

Guest Post by Aliya Seymour

Featuring New Dog Park Agility Equipment

The Piedmont Park Conservancy is excited to announce the newest feature installed in the Piedmont Park large dog park; a brand new agility course!

The course was graciously donated to the Piedmont Park Dog Parks by 16-year-old Ansley Park resident Jason Steinfeld. Jason is a Life Rank Boy Scout working toward Eagle Scout rank. He wanted to bring some added excitement to the dog parks and allow an area for the dogs to play, exercise and even do some agility training. He hopes this installation will bring joy to both dogs and their owners.

“I love Piedmont Park. I did my Bar Mitzvah Project in the Park by planting a big Oak tree and ferns.  So it seemed natural to have my Eagle Project here too,” said Jason.

Jason with Piedmont Park Conservancy President/CEO Mark Banta

Jason worked on this project for over a year so that dogs all over Atlanta could come to Piedmont Park and have a little something extra to enjoy. Over 20 scout, family and friend volunteers helped with the installation.

The agility course represents the Conservancy’s efforts to encourage park visitors to be active while also having fun – humans and dogs alike! Appreciation goes to Jason and the Steinfield family for this enhancement for their fellow Atlantans.

Head outdoors with your furry friend, and visit the Piedmont Park Dog Parks this weekend for a new experience!

Guest Post by Alexandra Anton

Recap: Piedmont Park Dog of the Year Contest

With an abundance of wagging tails and adorable faces, the first ever Piedmont Park Dog of the Year Contest was a ‘bone’ified hit! Leading up to the in-park contest, almost 80 dogs competed in a photo-based contest online to rack up the most votes on their photo by the July 29 deadline. From dogs in bow ties and sweaters to pups exploring all areas of Piedmont Park, the voting page was so cute that it racked up a total of more than 50,000 votes over the course of one month of voting.

On Saturday, July 29 at 11:00am, the top 12 finalists with the most votes on their photograph that also met the contest requirements (including proof of rabies vaccination and a Piedmont Park Conservancy membership) went into an in-park competition at the Piedmont Park Dog Parks. The Piedmont Park Conservancy in-park competition was hosted by Conservancy volunteer Fred McFarlin,  and guests enjoyed free giveaways including cold water, dog treats, and one free drink for every contestant and viewer at Park Tavern after the show!

The top 12 contestants were all able to earn over 1300 votes on their photographs, ultimately earning them a spot in the finals. Finalists included:

  • Addison, also known as Addie – an 18-month-old Sheepadoodle from Sandy Springs “Oliver Row”
  • Django – a four-year-old Goldendoodle from Midtown
  • Harlow – an one-year-old King Charles Cavalier Spaniel from Midtown
  • Callie – an 11-year-old Goldendoodle from Midtown
  • Kooper – a nine-year-old Vizsla from Virginia Highlands
  • Ponce – a two-year-old Doberman from Midtown
  • Duke – a three-year-old miniature Pinscher (Min Pin) from Midtown Garden District
  • Rocky – a two-year-old Beagle/Blue Tick Coonhound from College Park
  • Rocket – a five-year-old Terrier mix from Reynoldstown/Cabbagetown line
  • Porter – a two-year-old mini-Australian Shepherd from East Lake
  • Sarah – a 10-year-old Golden Retriever from OTP Atlanta
  • Tank – a 14-year-old mini-Pomeranian from Peachtree Battle

At 11:00am, these top 12 finalists found out they were going into the in-park portion of the competition and lined up in the contestant waiting area. Amy Han Dietrich from the Piedmont Park Conservancy then made remarks about how over 700,000 visitors enjoy the Piedmont Park Dog Parks each year, and how the Conservancy thought that was a great reason to host a Dog of the Year competition. Also, Dietrich reminded the viewers that each of the finalists are members of the Conservancy, and how they were all good dogs of the park. The Conservancy utilized this competition to celebrate the frequent use of the dog parks as well as raise awareness that the dog parks are 100% maintained by the Conservancy and relies on private donations from users and corporate sponsors.

Dietrich then introduced the judges:

  • Bridget Matheson from Dog Days Atlanta who donated 3 free days of doggie day care for any of their 3 locations, treats, a toy, and a doogie poop bag to the winner.
  • Bryan Kolton from Bark ATL who donated a food scoop and water bottle to ALL the top 12 contestants, a free day of daycare to the top 11 runner ups, and a Day of Bliss coupon for the winner that’s good a free day of day care as well as a free bath and nail trim.
  • Liz Rupp from Dancing Dogs Yoga Atlanta who donated one month of yoga and a manduka yoga mat to the winner— as well as one week of yoga to each participant.
  • Kalia Edmonds from the Piedmont Park Conservancy
  • Mark Nelson from the Piedmont Park Conservancy

The competition then began with a mini-dog parade that allowed viewers to take their first look at the finalists, and for the judges to rate their behavior.

Harlow

Kooper

Porter

Sarah

Tank

Then each dog was directed by their owner to “sit,” and then had 30 seconds to “free-style” and win over the judges. Free-style acts included laying down, turning, jumping, just being absolutely lovable, and so much more.

Rocky

Rocket

Ponce

Duke

Django

Callie

Addie

Finally after each pup had a moment in the spotlight, the contestants were released in their respectively-sized dog park, and judges watched as they rated friendliness with other dogs.

Finally after much anticipation, Ponce was named the Piedmont Park Dog of the Year! Ponce came up to the stage and briefly held a pose for pictures, but then laid down after his amazing performance in the competition, allowing onlookers to continue taking his picture.

As Piedmont Park Dog of Year, Ponce will hold the status from August 1, 2017 through July 31, 2018. Ponce and her owner Chris Beauregard will help announce the opening of this year’s Splish Splash Doggie Bash on October 7-8, 2017 as well as announce take-off at the Conservancy’s Doggie Dash 5k in the spring of 2018. Ponce will also receive a photo shoot and be featured as the Dog of the Year on Piedmont Park’s social media, dog newsletter and more!

The contest wrapped us with appreciation extended to the contestants, judges, Park Tavern for the post-Yappy Hour, and the Piedmont Park Conservancy volunteers and staff.

Tails of Piedmont Park: Dutchess

Meet Dutchess, a one-year old toy poodle with kinky white hair and an adorable smile. Dutchess and her owner, Kenzie, can be found playing and running around in the small dog park donned in her pink collar, or resting on the benches under a large canopy of trees.

One week after Kenzie and Dutchess were a pair, Dutchess visited her first dog park: Piedmont Park. She was timid and scared, but with her owner and friends nearby, she soon realized that everything was ok. Dutchess now loves the dog park, and they come every weekend. Dutchess has become a very social puppy and knows that there are always lots of dogs to play with when coming to Piedmont Park. While Dutchess has been to several other dog parks, she prefers Piedmont Park’s dog parks. They are much nicer and well-maintained compared to other Atlanta off-leash dog parks. Also, they are large enough for Dutchess to run around for hours with an entire acre in the small dog park, and two acres in the large dog park.

Kenzie and Dutchess are residents of Decatur. Say hello to Dutchess and Kenzie the next time you spot them in the dog park!

 

Check out the Dog Park webpage.

Events

Splish Splash Doggie Bash

Wag and splash at Atlanta’s BEST dog pool party! Every year, more than 500 people bring their four-legged friends for a unique opportunity to dive in the pool! Guests enjoy awesome photo opportunities, lots of dog vendor giveaways, music, and access to concessions and a bar (excluding the Sunday morning session). In addition to the excuse to get an Instagram-worthy story, this event raises funds for the Piedmont Park Conservancy. The Conservancy is 100% responsible for the funding and maintenance of the Piedmont Park Dog Parks. Visit the event website for more information: https://www.piedmontpark.org/splishsplash/