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Off-Leash

Bedford’s dogs get social



Photos by Rana Faure

I’ve always fancied myself a liberated kind of gal (albeit one whose existence closely resembles that of a 1950s housewife). I never even entertained the idea of taking my husband’s name when we got married. But soon thereafter, I acquired a different one altogether. Since 2002, I have been known as Sydney’s (and later Zoe’s) mom. But with playgrounds and Music Together mercifully in my rearview mirror, I assumed my identity would revert. I was wrong. Since last summer, I’ve come to be known as Calvin-the-black-and-white-goldendoodle’s mom. Especially at our favorite destination: the Bedford Dog Park.

Founded in 2004 by an upstart group of committed locals, the dog park is the most valuable of resources. Tucked away in a rural, understated spot off Beaver Dam Road, but still convenient to highways and villages, the park is divided into two main fenced areas, one for dogs under 30 pounds and the other, bigger lot for large dogs. There is also a smaller, removed area with a few elements to help dogs with agility training. While the main park overlooks the countryside, visitors are provided with far more than just beautiful vistas. Most

everything needed to have an enjoyable stay is there, such as benches (some shaded), garbage disposals and poop bags. Bedford residents pay a small fee for an annual permit (a limited number are reserved for “out of towners”) that must be displayed in your vehicle. 

Bedford’s Chris Vitti, an original dog-park team member and dad to chocolate Lab Louie, says, “When we started, the land was heavily wooded and totally unusable. Many people donated time and money to make it happen, from landscape architects to SavATree to tech-related help. In the end, it’s become a strong community place.” 

Calvin’s friend Charlie’s mom Julia Klagsbrun of Katonah says, “It’s great because Charlie can get his energy out while I read or talk with friends.”

Truly unique to the dog park is the overall culture that has developed. People quickly learn to be respectful of the rules and regulations, such as mandatory picking up after your own dog and knowing when it may be time to give someone a “time out.” Even more, it has become a social meeting spot for a wide variety of residents. Come at 9 a.m. after preschool drop off, and you will find a very different crowd than at four in the afternoon. And dogs are wonderful icebreakers. Conversations start quickly and easily when your dogs are sharing the same water bowl. 

Barbara Harris, current president of BDOG, the Bedford Dog Owners Group, which runs the dog park, and mom to pugs Zoe and Sprocket (the Rocket), explains the appeal, “I live on a dirt road where it can be hard to walk the dogs. We all want a safe place with a clean, welcoming environment. Everyone is there with the same purpose.”

While town officials, particularly Bill Heidepriem, receive kudos for their contributions to making the park a reality, it is the only self-sustaining park in town, and the group is always looking for extra hands. Fences, landscaping, and more need to be maintained. Information on how to help or get involved is on the group’s website bedforddog.org. My boy and I look forward to seeing you there. I bring treats.


WOOF, WOOF, BARK PARK  A typical morning at the Bedford Dog Park where it’s never clear if the dogs or the humans are having more fun.

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