Pumpkin and a pair of his busy paws just couldn’t wait.
As Miami-Dade Commissioner Juan C. Zapata, county officials and photographers gathered, the eager 4-year-old golden retriever dragged owner, Parks construction manager Jay Forni, to a makeshift sand pile, readied to mark a parking lot expansion at the West Kendall Dog Park during an Apr. 5 ceremony.
While visitors laughed, Pumpkin set about a tail-wagging digging project into the mound that also had been set out to mark new storm drainage piping for the area.
As Pumpkin eagerly buried his nose into the sand pile, delaying the photo-op, owner Forni could only hold tight to his dog’s leash, chuckling, “Must figure something’s in there.”
After Pumpkin’s dig, gold-painted shovels were distributed for a symbolic “ground-breaking” photograph, part of a two-day (Apr. 5 anf 6) celebration when dogs and their owners marked expansion of new facilities at the 6.5-acre Dog Park.
“This is a great place to bring our dog,” said owner Jennifer Rogers who drives eight miles roundtrip from Kendall’s Glen Cove community with son Matthew, 7, to give their 4-year-old golden retriever, Ginger, a romp in open space, chasing a Frisbee.
The weekend festivities began with cardboard cutout scissors wielded by park officials and dog owners at a recently opened 20- by 20-foot metalroofed shelter, designed for rainy days or comfort under a hot sun.
In addition, the parking lot just south of The Hammocks soon will be enlarged by 27 vehicle spaces to avoid a safety hazard when the existing lot is filled and pet owners often park cars along SW 157th Avenue.
In addition to the Saturday groundbreaking, the two-day event featured a dog spaying/neutering mobile unit on Apr. 5 and the same facility for cats on Apr. 6, both to encourage controlling the area’s pet population.
For four hours Sunday, dog adoptions were featured along with a special dog obedience training demonstration by Felix Varela Senior High School students who learn at their school’s animal shelter, part of pre-veterinary curricula.
“I couldn’t be happier with the progress we are seeing here and that which is still to come,” said Zapata who has made a strong effort to begin improving facilities at West Kendall parks and develop new community projects, including a landscaping and design model for Kendall Drive, Dog Park improvements totaling $150,000 came from the Building Better Communities bond program and park impact fees.
For more information, visit online at www.miamidade.gov/parks.