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Horses & Hounds: Park And Bark To Celebrate 10th Anniversary With Strutt Your Mutt Walk This Saturday At Fairfield Hills

Published: May 16, 2019 at 08:00 am

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Calling all dogs and the people they love!

It’s time for the Newtown Park and Bark’s annual Strutt your Mutt event and its very special ten-year anniversary celebration. To commemorate the decade anniversary, residents are invited to participate in the Strutt Your Mutt dog walk and fair at Fairfield Hills, Keating Farms Avenue, on Saturday, May 18, from 11 am to 2 pm. Registration will begin at 10:30 am.

There will be a wide variety of events that will appeal to everyone who loves dogs: From a 2K walk led by Bernese mountain dog Titan and his human pal, Terry Ritchie, to vendors offering dog-related products and services, as well as games of every realm of the imagination. A preview of events being showcased are Best Kisser, Best Tail Wagger, Highest Jumper, relay races, hula tunes, and many more that are sure to engage the interests of all canine lovers.

In 2009, a volunteer group of Newtown resident dog lovers joined forces in order to establish an official off-leash dog park. They had a vision for a place where dogs could run free that came to a reality with the formation of the Newtown Park and Bark on the grounds near the Second Company Governor’s Horse Guard.

The commitment of the original founders included Kathryn and Roo Simonds, Roseann Reggiano, Maryann Viesto, Kim Jaeckel, Benay Yaffe, Theresa Ritchie, Kaki Taylor, and Janice Butler, who made the dream a reality and have worked tirelessly to ensure the success of this state-of-the-art dog park.

They did it all, leading the way through fundraising, marketing, photography, planning meetings, and every aspect of production, and they have provided the Town of Newtown with a showcase facility that makes this park the envy of Fairfield County.

In 2012, through the generous bequests of two late Newtown residents, Frances Hair and Hazel Bouchard, a $2 million legacy was gifted to benefit the animals of Newtown, and Park and Bark was awarded $171,368 for costs associated with completing the development of the park.

The annual Strutt Your Mutt event is made possible through the “core group” of sponsors led by Mt Pleasant Hospital for Animals, Canine Training and Behavior Services LLC, Mutt-Mitt International, and Tiger Rose Labradors.

RoseAnn Reggiano, assistant director of Parks and Recreation, recently said that, “The success of the [Park and Bark] is due to the self-regulation of those residents who are the guardians of this wonderful resource by ensuring that everyone follows the guidelines set forth by the Town.”

Reggiano hopes that in the future, there will be a self dog wash, lighting, and restroom facilities. Knowing the determination and persistence of this amazing group, these amenities will develop sooner rather than later.

There are so many people who have been instrumental in the success of the dog park, including Amy Mangold, director of Parks and Recreation, who has supported and supervised the dog park from day one; Carl Samuelson and his crew, who ensure the grounds are in working order; and the Parks & Recreation Commission, which oversees the town parks with care and consideration to new and old ideas.

So bring the family, bring the dog, and step out and support an event that welcomes dog lovers of all ages. Just remember that all dogs must remain on a leash. Be sure to bring a water bowl to keep Fido hydrated, and pick up whatever they leave behind.

For additional information, check out the newtownparkandbark.org website or the group’s Facebook page. Hope to see you there! Newtown Park and Bark is located on a two-acre field at 21 Old Farm Road, off Wasserman Way, adjacent to the animal shelter, across the street from the existing Governor’s Horse Guard.

There are currently more than 1,850 dogs registered in Newtown, and in the town, dogs are prohibited from entering town parks, and must be leashed on all public property. Because of this, the town donated a parcel of land, and Newtown citizens stepped forward with hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to create one of the county’s more pristine dog parks. The fenced-in park features segregated sections and entrances for small and large dogs, bench seating, poop bag dispensers, waste receptacles, watering stations, a bulletin board, and high-end agility equipment. The park lawn is very well maintained and overlooks a beautiful wooded section of Newtown.

Margaret A. Reed, PhD, is the coauthor of the best-selling book, The Dogs of Camelot, an AKC dog show judge, thoroughbred racehorse owner, principal of Canine Training and Behavior Services LLC, and she serves on the board of Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, James A Baker Institute for Animal Health.

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