El Dorado Dog Owners Guild
● By Style
Photos by Dante Fontana, © Style Media Group
Holly Morrison’s dogs were still puppies when she started working to build a dog park in her home community of Cameron Park.
Today, Jessie and Bella are nearly 10 years old, but Morrison’s dream has become a reality. “This is an exciting day,” Morrison said in early November, as she got word the final pieces were in place to finish the half-acre Hacienda Dog Park. “We’ve been working toward this for so many years, and now it’s only a matter of weeks.”
The park opened in mid-November and was the first off-leash dog park in the county. But it won’t be the last. Thanks to the efforts of Morrison and the El Dorado Dog Owners Guild (EDDOG), a second, larger dog park is slated to open in El Dorado Hills this spring.
While it’s a great success for the group and a treasure for the community, it was more than eight years in the making. There was some resistance in the community and it was a tumultuous time for the local community services districts; as well, there was the issue of money. Even with financial support from the El Dorado Hills and Cameron Park Community Services Districts, EDDOG still needed to raise funds to bring the parks into being. To make it happen, they held fund-raisers—lots of them.
“We held wine tastings, we sold commemorative bricks, we started an eScrip program, raffled dog quilts and organized a once-a-year Pooch Plunge at Cameron Park Lake,” Morrison says. “And little by little, we got what we needed.”
EDDOG is also quick to credit the leadership of the Community Services Districts’ Mary Cahill (Cameron Park) and Brent Dennis (El Dorado Hills). It was they who saw the need and the value of adding this kind of park to the areas’ recreational offerings.
“Considering the number of families with dogs, a safe, well-designed dog park makes a lot of sense for [our] community,” says Brent Dennis, general manager of the El Dorado Hills Community Services District. Indeed, based on dog licenses purchased, EDDOG estimates there are more than 36,000 dog owners in the county, accounting for roughly 20 percent of the entire population. Even so, it’s hard to know what kept EDDOG going for eight years, until you realize it’s about much more than just giving dogs a place to run.
“It’s about nurturing a community,” Morrison says. “When you bring your dogs here, they get to run, socialize and exercise, but we as residents get to know our neighbors, form friendships, and start talking about ways we can all work together to meet our region’s needs. We have a responsibility to give as much as we can to our communities, and when we all pull together, we can do great things.”
Although the parks are funded, EDDOG is still seeking financial support to add more amenities, such as water features for those 100-degree days, making the parks even better.
For more information, visit eddog.org.