09-06 Dog Park Winston

"Winston," a boxer that lives in Gilford, enjoyed playing with the dogs and people at the Lezama Family Happy Tails Dog Park, which opened in Laconia last weekend. In the background are Leah Nelson of Gilford and Paul Duggan of Laconia. (Adam Drapcho/The Laconia Daily Sun)

LACONIA — If there was any concern that the Lezama Family Happy Tails Dog Park would be underutilized, those were cast aside on Saturday for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, when about 100 dogs – and their owners – showed up for the ceremony.

“A lot of people thought we’d only have 10 or 12 dogs that would show up,” said Ginny Sanborn, treasurer of the nonprofit organization that manages the city-owned park.

“I think it’s really going to take off. I go by there a couple of times a day since it opened, there’s always at least three to four cars, minimum, even in the dead of heat,” said Sanborn.

A place to socialize

Leah Nelson, who moved to Gilford two months ago, was among many people at the dog park on Wednesday morning. She brought with her “Porter,” a black 9 month-old mixed breed dog that was short in stature and long in energy.

“I moved from Dover, I used to take my dog to the dog park all the time. There’s nothing besides this around here,” she said. He doesn’t do very well on the leash, so it’s nice to have a place to take him.”

“It’s not just for the dogs, it’s socializing for the people, too,” said Pete LaTucky, from Gilmanton. Next time he comes to the park, he said he’ll bring a chair and spend more time. “It’s definitely something Laconia needed.”

Paul Duggan, who lives in Laconia, said he couldn’t wait for the park to open. He had taken to driving by the site, on Growtth Road, to watch its progress. He recently adopted “Duke,” a rescue dog displaced by the hurricane in Houston, and had been taking him to Ahern Park to burn off energy. But once summer started and the park became more populated, he didn’t feel as comfortable with the big German shepherd mix.

“It’s good to have a place designed for just the dogs,” said Duggan.

Sustain

The park, built on a couple of acres of city land, features fenced areas for big dogs, little dogs, and puppies, to play together on rolling terrain spotted with small boulders and shade trees.

The construction of the park was funded largely through a gift from an anonymous member of the Lezama family, which operated the now-closed Las Piñatas Mexican restaurant in Laconia.

Insurance and ongoing maintenance is going to fall to the nonprofit Happy Tails Dog Park of the Lakes Region, said Sanborn.

The organization is still trying to determine how much it will cost to keep the park open, and how those funds will be raised, she said.

“We’re hoping this is going to sustain.”

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