By: Camille Hall
As spring finally starts to show its face in Martin, so do lots of friendly dogs and their owners out for a stroll. The act of walking a dog can be fun and relaxing in this busy time of the year. One might think that Martin is a great place for our furry companions to live, however I disagree. This rural area does have its upsides for country dwellers with lots of land and space. The opposite can be said for those of us living in apartments or smaller houses. Our animals suffer from being kept in small spaces with little room to roam. As busy college students we try to make time for our lives, but sadly many dogs and other companion pets don’t get their necessary exercise due to our busy lifestyles. The solution however can be found in many other towns across Tennessee.
A simple off-leash dog park can have a major impact on the lives of many “apartment dwelling” dogs. It’s interesting to think of, why doesn’t Martin have one already? The common issue I have faced is one of ignorance. Most people don’t think students want to bring their pets to college or even want to deal with one. I found this shocking. Pets can have a healing effect on a stressed college student and in many cases it helps with responsibility and companionship. An off-leash dog park can turn those 30 minute class breaks into a fun outings with a furry friend.
Many larger cities like Memphis, have lavish off-leash dog parks with multiple ponds, washing stations, and playing areas to roam. The overall goal of a Martin gaining a dog park would not be large acreage or vast ponds but a safe place for your pet to run free for a few minutes a day. There are many grant programs through various dog food companies that come available every other year. These grants can match funds and help offset building costs. The concept of a dog park can move and spread fast once it has a large enough support group. Business around Martin can sponsor or advertise fence space to help offset costs. Trash cans, equipment, and materials are commonly donated to local dog parks. Many off leash dog parks are also used for training classes, community events and pet adoption days.
The simple concept of a small fenced area can have great meaning when accepted by a community, college, and region. There is a vision for an off-leash dog park in Martin but this vision can only become reality through cooperation and support of many dog lovers at UTM and in the Martin community. It’s time we shared some space for our furry friends and let loose.