The Cooperation Station at Mosquito Lake State Park in Cortland might simply be called a dog park but it is much more than that. This 5-acre, completely fenced area represents the hopes and dreams of several groups that actually came to together to see it through to a reality.
The grand opening was held in July of 2009 and, according to Jackie King, assistant manager of the state park, it has become the most popular area of Mosquito.
Collaboration between the Trumbull County MetroParks and the state park was the brainchild of Dr. Richard Cook, a much respected local veterinarian who made the first proposal for a section of the park where dogs could socialize in 1990. It was rejected by the state park. Another proposal in 2000 met a similar fate. With Dr. Cook's passing in 2003 it seemed as though the dream was at an end. However, his son Tim, who was an officer at Mosquito, kept the dream alive by offering proposals in 20005 and 2007.
At the same time, a concerned group of dog-loving citizens were searching for a site for their proposed dog park in Cortland. They approached the MetroParks but no suitable site was found.
By the spring of 2009, the managers of Mosquito and the MetroParks met. They realized they had funding for fencing from the MetroParks and land at Mosquito, leased from the Army Corps of Engineers. The dog park could then be built.
The question of labor for placing the fences arose. The nonprofit group YouthBuild came to the rescue.
YouthBuild helps students from ages 16 to 24 achieve their GEDs or high school diplomas. These students are taught carpentry and construction skills as well as leadership. The dog park was the perfect place for them to hone those skills. The project was completed in four weeks.
The dog lovers formed a ''friends'' group whose mission statement includes promoting, protecting and enhancing the dog park. They have done just that by holding fundraisers such as holiday photoshoots and Howl-O-Ween at the dog park, and by accepting donations for paving stones with your pet's name on it for a walk leading into the Park.
The dog park is divided into two sections, two acres for small dogs and three acres for larger breeds. There is even a small beach for just about any dog that likes to swim.
Ms. King reported that the dog owners using the facility have been responsible, removing any dog that does not socialize well. There are also rules governing the use of the dog park. Among them: Dogs must have collars and ID tags; dogs in heat are not permitted; dog defecation will be removed by the owners; and dogs with communicable diseases are not permitted. Owners are responsible for any damage done by their dogs such as digging holes.
With all the cooperation needed to build the dog park, it is the animals themselves who are the winners. I have seen owners of big dogs bring their pets through the gates and take them off leashes.
These big dogs stretch out and run in the 3-acre area, bounding along with other big dogs. There is often a Frisbee being tossed or perhaps they run to the beach, waiting and wagging until their owner catches up with them to let them through the gate that goes to the beach.
Small dogs have just as much fun. There is plenty of room for their short legs in the 2-acre plot. There are benches placed throughout for tired owners and a water fountain for dogs and their owners.
The Friends of the dog park have a website at www.mosquistolakedogpark.com There you can learn more about this dream facility for our canine friends.
O'Connor is a Brookfield resident. Email her at email@example.com