They run, they jump, they fetch, they romp! They’re happy dogs enjoying a new dog park at Kendal at Lexington!

With increased awareness in recent decades of the immense benefits of our four-legged friends, especially for older adults, many senior communities across the U.S. have embraced a “pet-friendly” policy. Since its inception, Kendal has been a great place for animal lovers and has welcomed dogs and cats, and even parrots. A few residents also have horses that are boarded off the property.

2 white and black dogs in dog park
Willie and Dino Enjoying the Dog Park

The Best Park for Man and Woman’s Best Friend

To make life even happier for the pups and dogs on campus, Kendal at Lexington has recently taken that philosophy a leap further with the construction of a designated dog park.

Beginning with a commitment on the part of more than 20 resident dog owners to re-establish a dog park at Kendal at Lexington (there was formerly a smaller, very hilly one where the Borden Center was expanded*), the resident-run Canine Organizing Group (COG) set about meticulously planning every detail of the three-phase project.

Currently, it is at the end of phase one, encompassing large and small areas with enclosures, farm fencing, and gates. This design keeps with the rural esthetic of the area. The dog park is an impressive size and situated on a beautiful part of the property that is convenient to get to, while also shielding potential noise and disruption for others.

Continued Canine Connections

The park’s “soft opening” (to be followed by a grand opening once phase one features are finalized) has already been a delight for dogs, their owners, and residents who simply want to watch the pups frolic in the freedom the park affords.

“A lot of residents don’t have dogs now but did in the past. The dog park gives them a chance to see and interact with dogs,” said resident and COG member Wick Walker, whose border collie Misty is the most recent among more than a dozen dogs he’s owned and loved throughout the years.

Resident and project lead Vic Crane agrees, “You can see people’s faces light up when the dogs come by to say hello.”

What’s more, according to Vic, dogs bring out the best in people.

“I’m more of an introverted person, but when I’m with my dogs, it’s much easier to start a conversation with people.”

Further Enhancements Ahead

Phase two of the dog park will supply benches in and outside the enclosures, shade elements, and signage; phase three will include access to running water and Wi-Fi, some agility equipment, and any necessary reseeding or resodding. The entire project is expected to be completed by the summer of 2023.

While the first phase was funded by Kendal at Lexington’s comprehensive master plan for land use and landscape, the latter two will be largely supported by residents’ donations.

Other plans for the initiative include a canine good citizenship program to certify dogs to visit residents in Webster Assisted Living and the Borden Health Center, greater accessibility to the park for those with mobility issues and for older dogs, pet parades, and scheduled time frames for maximum dog and resident attendance.

More Than Just an Idea

“We did our homework,” said Vic, whose golden retriever Tuli and chihuahua-mini pinscher mix Fiona are his latest furry friends in a lifetime of dog ownership. “We had a complete plan, not just an idea,” he added of the effort that had valued input from resident Lynda Fox, a former veterinarian, as well as Wick’s wife Laura, a horse owner.

Like Laura and Wick, Vic and his wife Pamela were drawn to Kendal at Lexington primarily because of the community’s conduciveness to pet ownership, its 85 acres of gorgeous countryside, and the promise of another dog park in the future.

“The dog park was one of the first projects in the land use master plan. We made it a point to be,” said Vic, who credits dogs with providing motivation to “get up and go” and essential comfort and companionship.

*Please note: There is another small, fenced-in area near the Borden Center where furry visitors to the Borden Center can run off-leash.

Bailey and Tulie dogs
Bailey and Tuli Relaxing in the Dog Park