It all started with Facebook. Scrolling through my newsfeed over my morning coffee, I came across one of those "see your memories" posts. This one showed a photo I had shared six years ago of my two dogs, who were then just two years old. Something struck me especially when looking at my smaller dog, Grady. I noticed how shiny black the fur around his face was. The face that is now turning gray. And I thought back over the past six years.
Back to when I was home alone and found out that I was pregnant with my twins, and my dogs were the first ones I told.
Back to when I was pregnant, and Grady would lay his head protectively in what little lap I had left.
Back to when my twins were born, and those long nights when Grady would sit up with me while I nursed or rocked babies back to sleep.
And as I thought of these moments, my nostalgia took on some guilt. Yes, even dog moms can get mom guilt.
I thought of Grady's bravery as he faced neck surgery, the discomfort of recovery, and eight long weeks of crate rest while he healed.
I thought of how he has always been so gentle and loving to my now almost 4 year old boys, even through their toddler years when they were learning how to be gentle with him.
And finally I thought of how even though I stay home every day, he does not get the attention that he once did. Our formerly nightly walks in the neighborhood are much less common. He doesn't get to hop in the car for a quick outing (what's a quick outing anymore with little kids?) like we used to.
And worst of all, I couldn't remember the last time we had been to the dog park.
I looked at his sweet graying face, still full of joy and ready to take on the world, and I knew it was time to change that. So on a beautiful Sunday morning, I left the kids at home with dad and headed out for a special dog park day, just Grady and me. It was time for us to reconnect, and time for me to show him again how much he means to me.
Back to the Dog ParkGrady loves the dog park. I actually take him solo, without our bigger dog, because our dog park is separated into areas for small and large dogs. And even though my two dogs are the best of friends, Grady really enjoys getting a chance to play with dogs his own size. Besides getting the opportunity to play with other dogs, the dog park gives him a chance to explore a new off leash place beyond our backyard and is an awesome way for him to get some much needed exercise (he could stand to lose a couple of pounds - don't tell him I told you that).
For me, the dog park is about more than just giving Grady a chance to exercise. It's also about watching his joy as he romps and runs with the other dogs. It's about getting a chance to socialize with other dog owners and spending quality time with my dog. Going to the dog park is something that has been sorely neglected for us lately, but I am determined to put it back on our priority list. It's important for my and Grady's well being, physically and mentally.
The Dream Dog Park ProjectWe are fortunate to live in a community with a new, clean, well designed and lovingly maintained dog park, with covered areas, benches, trails, and even doggie water fountains. It makes heading to the dog park a joy! But many dog owners are not so lucky. In fact, 73% of dog owners surveyed by Beneful agreed their dog park could use some improvements. Yet the number one challenge for these dog owners is a lack of funding.
That's why Beneful is working with GoFundMe for the annual Beneful Dream Dog Park Project to help improve or build new dog parks across the country. Their goal is to provide support to 12 dog park projects, one each month, over the course of a year. Every month, Beneful selects a new GoFundMe dog park campaign to highlight online and on social media, and they provide matching dollar for dollar donation support for the chosen projects, helping them reach their goals even faster. If your community needs to build or improve a dog park, be sure to get your project on GoFundMe for the chance to be featured in the Dream Dog Project!
You can also support this awesome project by spreading the word on social media. When you tag @Beneful & use the hashtag #DreamDogPark to share a photo of your dog at the dog park, or the Dream Dog Project site, Beneful will put $1 towards the Beneful Dream Dog Park Project this year (up to $50,000). If you love to share pictures of your dogs as much as I do, this is a really easy way to help build some amazing dog parks!
Dog Parks 101Another really fantastic way that Beneful is supporting dog park users is by providing a wealth of information on dog park building, renovations, and most important in my opinion, dog park etiquette and safety. Dog parks are only as good as those of us who use them and are diligent with safety and common sense. Before you head to the dog park, be sure to read and follow these Dog Park Tips. And of course, check with your local dog park for any additional rules or requirements before visiting.
Win a Dog Park PackWe have our Dog Park bag packed and can't wait to go again! And, Beneful has given me an awesome dog park pack to give away to one of my lucky readers too. Just enter below to win a Beneful Dream Dog "Dog Park Pack" including a leash, toys, Beneful coupons and more. Perfect for your next dog park outing!
Baneful Dream Dog Park "Dog Park Pack"
Tell me about your dog park! Is it in need of improvements, or are you looking to build from scratch? Or is it already awesome? I'd love to know in the comments below. Learn more about the Beneful Dream Dog Park Project here, and share your GoFundMe page with me on Facebook or Twitter!
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