Saturday, July 21 , 2018, 6:01 pm | Fair 71º

 
 
 
 

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Seniors Celebrate Opening of Retirement Community Dog Park

Residents at Valle Verde in Santa Barbara worked to find space for dogs to romp off-leash

Residents of the Valle Verde retirement community in Santa Barbara celebrated the opening of the facility’s first dog park, where 40-plus dogs belonging to senior residents will be able to play.
Residents of the Valle Verde retirement community in Santa Barbara celebrated the opening of the facility’s first dog park, where 40-plus dogs belonging to senior residents will be able to play.  (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

The journey lasted nearly a year, but senior residents of the Valle Verde retirement community in Santa Barbara finally saw the fruits of their labor Monday with the opening of an on-site dog park.

Therapeutic dogs were decked out in matching handkerchief scarves for the occasion, as dozens of residents got their first glimpse of the fenced-in dog park, specifically designed for some of the 40-plus residents who own dogs.

“It’s a happy day,” one Valle Verde resident said, smiling from ear to ear as he shared dog treats with rambunctious canines.

The dog park never would have happened without a collaboration between nearby residents, the city of Santa Barbara and Valle Verde, which owns the land where the park is located, said Parm Williams, a longtime Santa Barbara resident who moved into an independent Valle Verde unit over a year ago.

Dogs and their owners were jumping for joy Monday at the grand opening of the new dog park at the Val Verde retirement community in Santa Barbara. Click to view larger
Dogs and their owners were jumping for joy Monday at the grand opening of the new dog park at the Val Verde retirement community in Santa Barbara. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara helped bridge a gap between the retirement community and its neighbors, who had grown accustomed to using the open space on the corner of Torino and Calle de Los Amigos — included on Valle Verde's 65-acre campus.

The city owns Hidden Valley Park across the street, which is open space neighbors can still frequent.

“Everybody feels they have a part in it,” Williams said, noting the healing nature of interacting with dogs. “I think everybody is happy.”

She and a group of about 20 other residents formed a dog park committee, which helped raise more than $10,000 — some of which came from residents who didn’t even own dogs. Williams also gave special credit to Valle Verde Executive Director Meslissa Honig and Sue Ryan, dog park committee chair, for their efforts.

All residents can get keys to open the park gates so dogs can run around off leash, with owners picking up after them.

Two seniors enjoy their interaction with canine friends at the new dog park at the Val Verde retirement community in Santa Barbara. Click to view larger
Two seniors enjoy their interaction with canine friends at the new dog park at the Val Verde retirement community in Santa Barbara. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Monday’s festivities included refreshments and raffle prizes, along with doggie scarves donated by The Little Dog House.

Nearby La Cumbre Animal Hospital, which cares for many of the dogs, donated materials for the park, and Valle Verde’s on-site shop, La Tienda, donated four benches. 

Residents were so pleased with the new park that they joined in song, repurposing the “Take me out to the ballgame” melody for a rendition of “Take me out to the dog park.”

Valle Verde’s chaplain in residence also said a prayer of thanks, calling the park a blessing.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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