With an obvious lack of appreciation for the significance of the moment , Emma, the mostly white cattle dog, trotted down the entrance ramp on a sunny Nov. 20 afternoon to become the first to enter Oakmont’s newly dedicated dog park.
Yet it really was a significant moment — one that crowned a nearly three-year effort to relocate Oakmont’s canine community after many years exercising on the Polo Field to occupying an official place to run. And run they can — the .96-acre finger-shaped spot behind the Community Garden on Stone Bridge Road isn’t exactly a park, but it could be a candidate for the longest enclosed dog run in Sonoma County.
Oakmont’s Dog Park committee “worked tirelessly to make this happen,” said Paula Lewis, at a dedication ceremony that featured a ribbon cutting by Steve Spanier in his final official act as OVA Board president, dog park committee members, guests and at least a half dozen dogs of assorted sizes — including Sue Aiken and her Emma.
The Happy Trails Dog Park actually came in under its approved $177,000 budget. And as Oakmont board member Heidi Klyn noted, it came about after several other possible sites were eliminated, and had to endure “rains, a pandemic and fires” before its completion by Mitchell Landscapes of Petaluma.
The park is reached by a handicap accessible path beside the community garden and a hillside platform and ramp that slopes gradually into the long enclosure. A gravel strip runs up the center to allow residents to easily traverse the length of the park and still maintain contact with their dogs. It all makes for a unique canine experience.
So how did 6-year-old Emma get to be Happy Trails’ first dog? “No reason,” Aiken said. “It just worked out that way.”