Like all dog owners, Jeff Lacey wants the best for his dog. The Easton resident has been coming to the Easton dog park almost every day now for two years with his two-and-a-half-year-old chocolate lab, Hobie.
“All the dogs play well together, Hobie absolutely loves it,” said Lacey.
Opened during the summer of 2015, the dog park has been a cooperative project between dog lovers and the Easton Park and Recreation Department.
“The dog park was put in place by the previous director and the Easton residents,” said Danielle Alves, park and recreation director.
Many families make a trip to the dog park part of their daily routine throughout the year. “I go pretty much every day,” said Lacey. “It’s also good for the owners to socialize.”
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the dynamic of the park significantly.
“Although we didn’t have to shut the park down, we had to mandate new rules following COVID-19 guidelines, such as wearing masks and social distancing,” said Alves.
There was a significant decline in the number of families using the park at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. After several weeks of being stuck at home, however — and after families became comfortable with the new social distancing and outdoor safety guidelines — many dog owners could no longer resist the urge to bring their pets back to the park.
Robin Seymour of Weston now comes to the park almost every day with her rescue Tucker, who is part Lab, part pit bull, and part Chow Chow. Tucker gets along with all the other dogs at the park. “When COVID-19 first came, I definitely got scared and did not come for a month or two, and then couldn’t take it anymore,” said Seymour.
Easton resident Virginia DiCesare is the owner of Holly, a three-year-old Welsh Springer. Like Seymour, DiCesare decided after a month of staying at home that going to the dog park was the perfect antidote to isolation.
“It got very isolated being at home, so I thought if I just go to the park wearing a mask and social distance at least Holly could run around and exercise,” said DiCesare.
Hiram Rosenberg of Trumbull comes to the park all year round with Lucy, his one-year-old pug. “One of the things that I love about this dog park is the dogs are very friendly, especially since Lucy is so small,” said Rosenberg.
Because dog owners have been very good about following the COVID-19 precautions, the town did not have to shut down the dog park, according to Alves. Even in the midst of the pandemic, the dog park was more popular during the summer months because of the warmer weather.
“Usually you see bigger dogs in the winter because they tend to love to play in the snow, but I definitely think it’s more utilized in the summer,” said Alves.
Although the coronavirus pandemic has been challenging during these unprecedented times, the Easton Dog Park remains a safe space for dogs and dog owners to enjoy. “The people really love it. It’s a great asset to the community,” said Alves.
Photo at top: Hiram Rosenberg with Lucy, his one-year-old pug. — Gabriella Tamburri Photo