Info & Newsletters

The Lions Club Dog Park is located at 25 Talbot St., just west of the Jumbo Statue in St. Thomas, Ontario.
This off-leash dog park is managed by the City of St. Thomas Parks and Rec Dept.  More information is available at their phone 519-633-7112.   To report maintenance concerns, vandalism, or misuse of the off-leash area call the Parks Division during office hours at 519-631-9990.  For Animal Control call 519-631-7430.

Public Complaint Form: This is our link for the form:

City of St. Thomas/PUBLIC COMPLAINT FORM.pdf

Also, if you have not visited the park and have a small dog, please be aware there is not a small dog area at the present time.

Bark Park 6

The current issue of our Newsletter barkpark 6 is available as a pdf for download here.

Bark Park 5

Our Newsletter barkpark 5 is available as a pdf for download here.

Past newsletters may be viewed here or downloaded at the end.

The Bark Park News

5 Farmington Dr.  St. Thomas N5R 5W8

Vol. 1 Iss. 4  August 2010

Lions Club Dog Park News

The dog days of summer are upon us.  The Lions Club Dog Park is still busy and now it’s fully fenced!  We lost some of the space along the creek side so the fencing could be put in securely, but better that than losing dogs.  There’s a gate in the big meadow so dogs can go to the creek for a swim.  It’s not a double gate, so you and your dog should get through quickly and make sure it’s securely closed behind you.  The grass was growing so high that finding your dog could be a job, but it’s been trimmed down.

The Grand Opening on the May 24th weekend went very well, despite the rain. Mayor Barwick, Alderman Warden and Parks and Rec Director Ross Tucker represented the City of St. Thomas and Gayle Cudney was there on behalf of the St. Thomas Lions Club. The STDOA’s Wendy Leason and Joe Spencer, with the Mayor, cut the ribbon. People and dogs needed raincoats on Saturday, but Sunday was sunny and pleasant. John Blake and Sherry Rawlings took photographic portraits of dogs and their people. Chico Sanchez of Hog Wild provided great musical entertainment. Anne McDonald of K-9 Concepts was there both days giving training pointers, especially on one of the hardest commands – recall. Go to for more photos.

STDOA & Community News

We’ve pretty much taken the summer off, at least from meeting regularly. We are going to be at the Fire Muster Labour Day weekend. There will be raffles and stuff for sale for you and your dog. We hope to see you there. If you can help with goods or volunteer some time at the booth, contact Wendy at or 519-633-1785 or email The annual great dog event Pawlooza! is Aug. 21st, 10-6 at the Plunkett Estate, 9282 Elviage Dr. London. More information at $10 entry per carload of people and dogs.

Beaver Creek Animal Hospital, on Sunset Dr., is having an anniversary Open House on Aug. 28th. ABCR will be there.

Things to do when you’re not at the dog park

Many of us spend a lot of time on the computer.  There are ways you can help animals while you’re surfing the net.  You can use Goodsearch as your search engine.  Go to to download it and choose your charity.  Every click earns 1 cent.  It adds up.  The ASPCA, one of the highest earners, has made $34,000.   You can search by category or just type in a name and see if it’s listed.  They’re mainly if not all American, but there’s plenty of good causes.  You can also shop online using GoodSearch.  Participating stores give a percentage of your purchase amount to your charity.  GoodSearch  clearly indicates those sites.

There’s also the Animal Rescue Site.  A click each day earns ‘food’ for animals in shelters.  When a “Shelter Challenge” is on, an extra click to vote can earn a participating shelter a lot of money.  Our ABCR has won $1000 for being in the top two Canadian shelters.  While you’re there, you can also click on their other sites –  literacy, breast cancer, hunger relief, and others.  All causes worth a click. and are sites where you answer a trivia question and, correct or not,‘kibble’ is donated to animal shelters. You can go directly to the sites or through Facebook throughthe freekibble page.

You can foster on Facebook’s ‘save a dog’ and ‘save a cat’ apps. ‘Volunteer’ at a shelter and have ‘rescue friends’.  There are stories on the site where worlds meet, with real-life adoptions of virtual fosters. Some of our area shelters are participants, including London’s ARF and Aylmer’s Helping Paws. Here’s a hint: if you join or foster animals through a friend, that person gets extra points. So find or make a Facebook friend who’s already a member and ask them to suggest you join. You could give that friend suggestions about which animals you’d like suggested to you.

Health Notes: Hot Dogs or ‘Chili’ Dogs – Not your dog!

With luck, the worst of the heat is past, but the winter chill is still to come. In cars, temperature extremes are not safe for dogs. It’s a problem – we want to take the dog out and we want to get groceries. It makes sense to combine things. But sometimes it’s best to do them separately, especially in any extreme heat or cold. We may forget that our dogs’ tolerance can change with how they’re feeling at a particular moment, and can change with age. And what one dog can handle, another might not be able to, so if you have more than one, it’s best to make decisions based on the one more susceptible to weather.

Both these Shepherds were adversely affected by weather. Dallas (left) got overheated on a pleasant breezy summer day. Normally it wouldn’t have bothered her, but she hadn’t felt well that day. Jack (right) loved cold weather. He looked forward to snow so he could roll in it. But, older and ill, he couldn’t be in the cold for any length of time either walking or ‘protected’ by a car.

In heat, have plenty of water with you. A thermos keeps it cold in summer and not frozen in winter. If your dog shows signs of heat stroke – heavy panting and listlessness – put cold cloths on head and feet. You can use an ice pack wrapped in a towel too. Just get the body temperature down. If the dog isn’t back to rights soon, go to your vet, even if it’s an emergency call. Heat stroke can kill quickly.

To avoid a dog getting chilled in winter, keep blankets in the car to cover your dog if you’re leaving them for any length of time. Buy a dog‘snuggly’ or make your own. Cut an X midpoint in the top half of a square of blanket. Pull it over their head, and it’s a cozy cover that doesn’t slide off. Buy a coat. Even Jack, with a natural undercoat, came to prefer winter walks wearing a fleece-lined coat.

With my two dogs now, I gauge weather conditions for them going in the car based on the smaller one. He feels cold and heat quickly. In winter, they’ve got blankets. In summer if I can’t find a parking spot in the shade, I either don’t go in a store or I take them in with me. I will park anywhere that’s shady. I explain why if there’s someone around. I tell store managers that shaded parking, whether with trees or canopies, is as necessary as other special parking. I will not risk my dogs’ health, even lives, for parking lot or store rules.

The Animal Rescue Site and are sponsoring a “Shelter Challenge” where All Breed Canine Rescue can win a grant of $1000 or more. All Breed Canine Rescue currently ranks fourth in Canada. To be awarded a grant, we must move up another position. Contest ends Aug. 22nd. You can vote every day at It’s easy. It’s fun. And it helps the dogs!

Featured dog: Kya – a small, young female golden Husky

Kya adores children, and loves to play hard with other dogs. She is a passionate swimmer and loves the water. Kya is enormously friendly and loves everyone she meets. She is an active dog and doesn’t like to be confined or bored. She must have a securely fenced yard in which to play. She is fully vetted including spay, vaccines, heartworm tested and microchipped. Her adoption is $390 and includes a full health record. Send an “Adoption Application” form by going to to meet Kya.

Featured Business: Home Away From Home Dog Boarding, Fairview Road near Union

Want an alternative to a boarding kennel for your best friend? Check out Home Away FromHome. The boarders in these pictures look pretty content! Seven years ago, friends askedKristina Nethercott and her family to look after their dog. Soon after, those friends asked ifthey would babysit their friend’s dog. Word spread and a great idea blossomed. With dogBailly, a couple of older children and a very supportive husband, Kristina set out to providethe best care for other people’s dogs.

Offering cage-free boarding, they have a truly dog-friendly home. Your dog lives in thehouse, even sleeping with the owners if they desire! Naps on the couch, daily walks, swimsin the outdoor pool, love and affection, treats and brushing are all included. All providedin a comfortable atmosphere to eliminate stress for you and your pet. You won’t have a care in the world while away, knowing they are being well looked after by life-long dog lovers.

The entire home is dedicated to your dog’s happiness. There is a large fenced area for safeplaytimes and the pool area is separately fenced as well. There is a dedicated doggie room fullof couches, beds and toys. Of course, all boarders must be socialable with other dogs and up todate with vaccinations. During your required pre-stay visit, your dog will meet their lovelygolden retriever Bailly and perhaps another guest as well, just to make sure everyone gets along.They only take 4 dogs at any given time, so booking early is a must. Several months in advancefor summer and up to one year in advance for Christmas and March break is highlyrecommended! They keep a waiting list, so you may be able to grab a last minute cancellation.They give any special care that your dog requires including administering of medication and anydietary requirements or restrictions – all included in the boarding rate.

Kristina is certified in pet first aid and has 24 hour access to veterinary care should it be necessary. At Home Away From Home, there is no ‘add-on’ pricing and $30 per night includes everything (except your dog’s own food). They are active volunteers with ARF (, a wonderful animal rescue group. 5% of the boarding fee is donated to ARF and they also open their home to a foster pooch whenever possible. Go to or call 519-782-3069 to book a visit with Kristina.

To download and view this newsletter as a pdf click here.

If you’d like your pet business featured here, please contact Dorothy at

The Bark Park News

St. Thomas Dog Owners Association

5 Farmington Dr.  St. Thomas N5R 5W8

Vol. 1 Iss. 3  May 2010

It’s been  a busy few months for  the Lions Club Dog Park and the STDOA.   The dog park is one of the best used parks in town – snow, rain and shine!   Improvements are being made, problems have arisen and problems are being solved.

If you haven’t been to the park yet, it’s at 25 Talbot St. That’s just west of the Jumbo statue, near Sunset Dr.

Quiet April day in dog park, photo Jim Stewart


Sat. 15 May 9 am-1 pm,  Dog Park Clean Up:  Volunteers are needed to clean up the park.  In order to get the work done, the park will be closed to dogs during those hours.  If you can give a hand, bring gloves and, if possible, garbage bags, rakes etc.  We want the park to look its best for the Grand Opening.  Contact  Wendy, or  519-633-1785.

Sun. 16 May 10 am,  Purina Walk for Dog Guides:  Pinafore Park organized by the St. Thomas Lions Club.  Registration is from 9-10 am.  Volunteers needed for the registration table, also walkers and sponsors.  Gayle Cudney (519-631-2148 or is the local organizer, or go to

Sat. 22 & Sun. 23 May, Grand Opening of Lions Club Dog Park:  Sat. from 10 am to 6pm, Sun. from 12-6 pm.  The ‘leash-cutting’ is Sat. at 11 am.  There will be food, dog-related merchandise, information booths, draws and contests.  You and your dog will have fun!  We need volunteers before and during it. Linda, or 519-631-5607.

Dog owners in Goderich are trying to get a dog park.  We can help them out by signing their petition at


There have been changes in the STDOA Executive Committee.  Joe Spencer is Acting President while Luanne is on leave.  Brenda Walden is our new Secretary, with Linda Spencer concentrating on administration and special events.  Sandy Craig has joined us as Treasurer, replacing Dorothy Stewart who is publications editor.  Gerald Demars fills a new position as head of dog park management.  Our webmaster Aleks stepped down in order to devote more time to her new baby.  Jim Stewart stepped in and has been redesigning the website.

We now have our own domain name,, with all the original content and lots of new.  There are sections for your stories and photos, so send them in!  There’s a blog:  it’s linked to the site or you can go directly to  We are setting up a Paypal link so you can join, donate and buy stuff online.   The newsletters, information sheets and membership form are all there, in on-screen and downloadable formats.  And, as you see, we have a new logo.  Also designed by Jim, it will be on all our new products, publications and signage.

Lions Club Dog Park News

Gerald, Ian, Wendy and others were busy in early spring clearing away underbrush and deadwood so that there are larger open spaces for the dogs to safely run.  Ian used the brush to construct a natural barrier along the creek front.  April flooding damaged it, but Ian rebuilt!

photo of Ian by Wendy Leason

Unavoidable gaps remained through which small or determined dogs squeeze.  People have had to chase ‘escapees’ across the creek or along the bank.  Dogs have run up the bridge abutment to Sunset Road and almost been hit.  Some people were breaking down parts of the barrier so their dogs could go swimming.  So people who were not willing to risk their dog getting loose weren’t  coming to the park.

In late April, the City arranged for fencing to be put up along the creek side.  Construction is scheduled to begin in late May.  Provision will be made for dogs to easily go for a swim.  Remember, though, once they’re in the creek, there is no barrier on the other sides to keep them in.  There are deer and other wildlife in the ravine so there are scents, and maybe animals, all over the area.

The City brought us a load of wood chips and Wendy and others spread them along the paths and hills.  Yolanda and her volunteer ‘scoopers’ continue to clean up dog poop every day.  Garbage bins and poop bag containers have been placed throughout the park.

The official sign was put up in late April.  On the front is park information, including the rules.  The back is a noticeboard for public dog-related information to be posted.

All the First Aid supplies, unfortunately, were stolen from the kit in the meadow.  We have restocked the box with the minimum of emergency bandaging and a sheet for moving an injured dog.  If you see anyone vandalizing the box or see that it’s empty or damaged, please let us know.  Finding out that it’s empty when an accident has occured isn’t good.  That’s what happened recently to someone who cut herself and needed a bandage.

Children running wild continue to be a problem.  This is a public park, but there are official and informal rules in this park that  differ from those in other City parks.  The big difference is that dogs are allowed off-leash.  So, like in a disc golf park where non-disc golfers are permitted, appropriate behaviour is expected. Grabbing a disc is not acceptable, even if a child or dog really really wants to play with it.  Disc golf parks are for disc golfers; others must stay out of their way.  Likewise, this park’s for dogs.

We don’t want to see a child hurt.  Children running at full tilt amongst a pack of playing dogs will be hurt, as will toddlers standing amidst playing dogs.  Children startling, grabbing or teasing dogs could easily be hurt.  Not all dogs are used to children, and few dogs like being grabbed or teased by strangers.   All these things have happened at our dog park.

The problem of people not cleaning up after their dogs continues.  Some people have voluntarily taken on the job of picking up poop.  But why should they have to do that?  Your dog, your poop.

Sometimes you may not see your dog go, or you may not be able to get to the spot.  That happens.  That’s why regular clean-ups are planned, and that’s why some people pick up after any dog they see going.   But how is it that ‘scooper’ volunteers fill several grocery bags twice a day, and there’s still more left on the ground?


Aggressive dogs have been a topic of discussion at the park.  Sometimes it seems an accurate description, sometimes not.  Growling and snapping does not alone indicate aggression.  It’s play.  Play can turn to fighting, but usually you will see the signs.  Dogs meeting for the first time will size each other up, and maybe not like what they see.  Dog behaviour is fascinating and there’s lots of information on it online and from dog trainers and books.

The best approach to dog play/aggression is to take your  cues from your own dog.  If Scruffy seems ok with a dog even if you’re terrified, go with Scruffy’s assessment.  If Scruffy’s lip is curled in a way that means “back off buddy or else”, maybe it’s a good time to get Scruffy to go to a different part of the park with you.  If there is a fight, usually it’s over with very quickly.  Dogs have to sort out their pecking order just like people do.  They do it with their teeth rather than their occupation or car choice.

If your dog is dog-aggressive, don’t come to the park at busy times.  Don’t keep him or her leashed in the park.  Being restricted will likely only increase aggressive reactions.  Try a muzzle.  That way Scruffy can run free, but not do any damage.  Please muzzle your Pit Bull or other “restricted” breed.  Regardless of our opinion of it, that’s the law.

People have asked about tax receipts for donations.  STDOA cannot issue tax receipts because we do not have charitable organization status.  You can donate directly to the City and get a tax receipt issued.  Specify that it is for the dog park fund.  If a tax receipt doesn’t matter to you, please remember we need money too for the STDOA’s share of dog park costs!


Book  Suggestions


Both these authors write entertainingly and insightfully about dogs and their people.  Both highly recommended!


Michael Schaffer, One Nation Under Dog:  Adventures in the new world of Prozac-popping puppies, dog-park politics, and organic pet food. New York:  Henry Holt & Co. 2009.


J. F. Englert, A Dog About Town.  New York: Dell 2007.  (1st in his Bull Moose Dog Run Mystery series.)


Donors – Thank you!

Sherene & Jeff Casey, St. Thomas

Kristy Cork & Chris Dekker, St. Thomas

Dr. Marjorie Stewart was the first to give a sizeable donation to what became the STDOA’s dog park fund.  Not a dog owner herself, she loved her ‘granddogs’, as she called them, and wanted to help get a park for them.  At that time, she was not even a resident of St. Thomas.  When told about vague hopes for a dog park,  her immediate response was, “well, you need money.  Would $100 get you started?”  Three years later in 2009 that money, plus more that had been collected, was the opening bank deposit by the STDOA.  She lived in St. Thomas by then, and was very proud to see the first brochure and newsletter and to know that a dog park was underway.  She never saw the dog park though.  She died Dec. 21, 2009.  The brochure was on the wall of her hospital room, along with a photo of her granddogs, Leo and Charlie, with Santa.  I’m proud to say that Marji was my mother-in-law.

– Dorothy Stewart

New Business – New Membership Rewards!

We welcome Heather Squires and Goliath Pet Supplies to St. Thomas.  Her healthy pet food and grooming shop opened at 385 Talbot St. in April.  She’s a member of STDOA and she has become a rewards partner with us.  Show your STDOA membership card and get 10% off.  Thank you, Heather!

If you have a business of any kind and would like to support the STDOA in this way, please contact Linda at 519-631-5607 or

Dogs greeting, or hound entering a parallel universe?

New on the website -Your First Pet

We never forget the first animal in our lives.  Tell us about yours.  Include a picture if you have one.  Submit it online by emailing to or mail it and we’ll post it.  Here’s a sample –

Trixie, by Dorothy Stewart


My first pet was a smallish black short-haired dog.  Part hound maybe?  We never knew.  Until his death of old age, I didn’t know life without Trixie.  He was in my family for about two years before I was born.  My parents found him in their back porch one morning.  They had no idea how he got there, but he didn’t want to leave so he didn’t.  Much later, a neighbour confessed that he’d found a stray and didn’t know what to do with him.  So he “decided George and Ruby needed a dog” and put him in the back door.  When I was a baby, Trixie guarded my crib.  He attended the tea parties I gave for my stuffed animals when I was five.  He let me put scarves and sunglasses on him when I was seven.  When I thought I’d be a vet when I grew up, he let me practice bandage-wrapping on him.  He sat with me in his chair and listened to my hopes and my woes.  For the first nine years of my life, he was my best friend.

All Breed Canine Rescue

Adoption Corner

Looking for a home….


Bear is only 2 years old, full of energy and ambition. He was abandoned, and our volunteers rescued him so we could make sure he gets a good home. Bear loves to run and play. He is a gorgeous red-brown cinnamon colour, with amber eyes. Bear has been fully vetted, including heartworm test, neutered, vaccinated, treated for fleas, been dewormed, and microchipped. He’s being fostered now, but needs a permanent home. See Bear and all the dogs waiting for homes at

Please consider being a foster home for a homeless dog. Email or call 519-633-6226.




Featured Dog Business

K-9 Concepts by Anne MacDonald


There are a lot of hidden treasures in our area.  One of them, not so hidden from dog people, is in a brick ranch house and kennel yards on Sunset Drive near Talbotville.  It is home of K-9 Concepts, and it’s where owner Anne MacDonald manages the boarding kennel and doggy day care,  obedience and agility training and her work as a consulting dog behaviourist.

Anne began dog training about 30 years ago.   Dogs had always been part of her life, but horses were her first passion.  However, injuries from a barrel racing accident put an end to her horse riding days, so she turned her attention to dogs.

She saw a lot of dominance-based training methods being used, and didn’t think that they were the only or best way to train dogs.  Experienced with horses, she knew that the best training comes from the animal wanting to do what you ask.  After all, it is not physically possible to even lift a horse’s foot unless the horse agrees to let you pick it up.  Anne approached dog training the same way.  Use positive reinforcement that encourages the dog to willingly do what you want, not because of fear of the punishment for not doing so.

She fully embraced the world of dogs, adding to her natural talent with formal training.   Obedience and agility training, dog showing and breeding, and behavioural consultation are all part of her life.  Her German Shepherds and Shelties have won in conformation and obedience.  But she doesn’t stay in the sometimes insular world of pedigrees and dog shows.  In 2000 she and her Sheltie, Charm, hosted a dog training programme on Global TV.  Anne is also the behaviour consultant for several dog rescues, including ABC Rescue.  She assesses the dogs in order to ensure that they are adopted into homes suited to their particular background or set of circumstances.

K-9 Concepts is at 9830 Sunset Drive, across the road from Elgin Animal Hospital.  The phone number is 519-631-9100 and the website is

This article is an example of the kind of write-up we would like to provide for local pet businesses on our website and in our newsletter.  If you would like to advertise in either or both, please contact Jim at for rates.

The Bark Park News Iss 3.pdf

If you need Adobe Reader to view the pdf file you can download it here for free:

The Bark Park News


St. Thomas Dog Owners Association

Vol. 1 Issue 2, February 2010 [now changed to]


The Lions Club Dog Park has been fenced and usable since mid-December 2009.  Dogs have been thrilled to meet their old friends and make new ones.  The expanded parking lot seems to have cars in it at all times of the day. One Saturday, in early January, the parking lot was completely full and cars had to park up by the Jumbo statue.  It is safe to say that the dog park is well used, and this is still the depths of winter!

For those who do not know where the park is, it is

at the west end of town, in a ravine area between Talbot Street, old Talbot Street and Sunset Drive.  Parking and the double entrance gate are on old Talbot St., west of Jumbo’s statue.  Pavement from the old road runs through part of the park, going west through a treed area toward Sunset.  Kettle Creek is the fourth, unfenced, boundary.   The fence lines are shown above, in black broken lines, starting at the bottom P and running NW along the dark blue line (old road) and north to the creek.

Park News

The grand opening of the park will be May 22nd, 2010.  Everyone is welcome. We hope to see all those who worked so hard to get a dog park in our city come to the park and help us celebrate the official opening.  We are planning many events and information booths to promote canine awareness plus dog-related merchandise and food for both humans and dogs.

Lions Club Dog Park Rules

The park signage lays out the basic rules for use of the dog park.  The rules are self-explanatory. However, an explanation of the reasons why we have these rules will help with adherence to them.  Also there are some realities of dog parks which cannot be concisely addressed in signage – they are matters which rely on common sense and courtesy.

*Clean up after your dog

This is one of the most important rules and common sense measure of any dog park.  The obvious reason for this will be apparent the first time you get in your car and smear a messy memento of your visit all over your car mat.

Most dogs investigate other dogs’ droppings.  They get information about the dog that way.  However, some dogs also find poo a tasty snack.  Eating it is a condition called coprophagia and there are many reasons for it – none of which are necessary or beneficial to a well looked after dog.  It’s particularly common in winter – the appeal of what the vets call “poopsicles”.

Coprophagia is a habit much easier to start than stop.  The best way to keep it from starting in the first place is ensure there is not a plentiful supply lying around. Dogs eating the feces of other dogs can infect themselves with parasites such as giardia, whipworm, & coccidia.  At a dog park, there are a lot of dogs and therefore a lot of temptation unless people scoop up after their dogs.

*No toys or food

Competition over toys – including balls and sticks – can lead to fights between dogs.  Many of  us have seen it happen, when one dog tries to take a toy or stick from another.  The fight might be minor or might be serious.  In a dog park, it might involve many dogs and therefore the chances of someone – dog or human – getting hurt are increased. Most dogs are happy to wrestle, chase and play with each other in the dog park.  Save fetch for other places.

Food can also lead to fights between dogs competing for what is in your pockets!  Dogs can smell a treat a mile away and most are not shy about asking for one.  Remember too, that some dogs have allergies and other health issues, and some people strictly regulate their dog’s food intake.  It is best to not give a dog a treat unless you have the owner’s consent.  A few non-smelly treats are fine if you use them for your dog training.  Try to reward your dog when the others are not around.


*Keep your dog in sight and under control

For reasons of possible injury and fights, it is best to know where your dog is at all times.  In this park, it is especially necessary as the creek side of the park is not fenced, due to Kettle Creek Conservation Authority rules and because of the creek’s seasonal fluctuations. Dogs can escape at the end of the fencing lines near the creek at the west side (by Sunset Drive) and the east side.  At any point in the park, a dog can jump down the embankment and go in the creek.

Recall training for your dog is essential.  The recall, or “come”, command is one of the most important skills to teach your dog.  Never call your dog to come then scold or punish them!  It does not take a canine genius to figure out that if a scolding or punishment is waiting for her when she comes, she’d really rather head in the opposite direction, thank you very much.  Not only will a solid recall help you avoid those embarrassing games of catch-me-if-you-can when you are trying to leave the dog park, but it will help keep your dog safe off-leash.

*Keep your children in sight and under control

This park is an off-leash area for dogs.  Parents should exercise care and caution by keeping their children close enough so little ones can be picked up in case running dogs pass near them.  Older children should move out of the way of running dogs.  Imagine three bowling balls weighing 25 kg and moving at a speed of 40 kilometers an hour and striking your child.  The child could be severely injured!  This is the average weight and speed of 3 adult dogs running.  Children should not run if they think a dog is chasing them.  In all likelihood, the dog is just running, but will quite possibly chase if the child begins running, screaming and flapping arms.  It will be a game to the dog, but the impact of the child and dog colliding can hurt the child.

The best advice to give your child – stand still, keep your arms folded and…

*First Aid

911 Emergency Services address is 25 Talbot Street


Running dogs can injure themselves with tree limbs, jagged stones and, unfortunately, broken glass and other garbage.  The STDOA has put a first aid kit in the lower meadow area of the park for emergency bandaging and cleanup of dogs and people.  In case of injury in the lower part of the park, if possible, get someone to bring your car to the Sunset Drive side of the park.  Carry or put your dog on the blanket in the first aid box to pull him or her to the emergency exit on Sunset.  Do not try to make your dog go up the hill to the parking lot if he or she is badly hurt.

*Preventative Vaccines

Make sure your dog is fully vaccinated before coming to the park. It is recommended that they also have the nasal vaccine for bordatella (often called kennel cough), a nasty flu-like ailment that dogs can contract in close contact.

Adherence to these rules and guidelines can be very important, even life-saving, for your pet.  Many of our dogs have never been together with so many other dogs at one time.  They may have dog friends; however both you and your dog know those dogs and their people.  No one can take for granted that another dog or person will have the same attitude as you or your dog to playing fetch, for example.  Your dog and his three friends might take turns catching the ball and dropping it at your feet, but the new dog watching your game might decide that the ball is his and his alone.  That could cause trouble.

In a dog park, both your dog and you are meeting strangers regularly.  It will take time for your dog to feel comfortable and accepted by the other dogs.  There is a lot of sniffing and sorting out to begin with.  Try to relax and feel at ease, as your dog will take his cue from you.   For the most part, the dogs love playing with each other and use good dog etiquette.  That being said, anyone who has ever seen a bar fight knows, a slight disagreement can quickly escalate and involve everyone in a brawl.  That happens with dogs as well.  These guidelines are to aid us humans in supporting our dogs’ social networking skills.

Basically, this whole discussion is about scale – that of many dogs’ waste not picked up, of a mob of dogs chasing a stick, of many dogs all wanting a treat from you, of a group of dogs careening toward you at full gallop.  If you bear the magnifying effect of scale in mind, you and your dog will enjoy the fun of a dog park.


STDOA Updates and Membership


Our first Pet Photos with Santa in late November was a fun day that raised about $400.  Traffic was steady with over 50 dogs getting their pictures taken.  Our ‘model’ dog was a beautifully behaved boy who posed perfectly while photographer John Blake adjusted lights and cameras.

Santa saw the full spectrum of dogs that day.  An Irish Wolfhound easily whispered her Christmas list in his ear.  Her head reached just as high as his.  At the other end of the size scale, John had to zoom in for close-ups in order to get a picture of an eight-week old Chihuahua with Santa.   Santa had his hands full, with dogs and sometimes children, crowded around and on him.

photos by John Blake

We thank Ashley Beaunoyer of Dogs We Love for providing a wonderful venue for the event and for the help she and her staff gave us.  Ashley is now selling her natural dog food from her home.  You can continue to get her products through her website

On May 15th from 8 am to 1 pm the park will be closed for a major clean-up of garbage, dead wood and underbrush.  If you want to help with labour or provision of garbage bags, gloves or equipment, please contact Wendy at 519-633-1785 or email

On Saturday, May 22,

Join us at the LIONS CLUB DOG PARK’S grand opening.

*If you have a dog (or dogs) and are not already a member of the STDOA, you can join for $20 a year, which covers all your dog(s) and family members. That gives you voting rights at our general meetings (one vote per household).

*If you do not have a dog, but would like to be part of the organization, you can become an associate member for $10 a year.  You can attend general meetings and partake in discussions and activities, but not vote.

Please send membership fees and donations to the Treasurer, 5 Farmington Drive, St. Thomas ON N5R 5W8 (email  Make cheques payable to St. Thomas Dog Owners Association.

If you want to help with fundraising or have ideas you would like to contribute, please contact our Fundraising Coordinator, Wendy at 519-633-1785 or email

Fundraising is just as important now as it was before we had the park.  If you’ve been there, you will know there are no stairs and no benches.  We still want a separate area fenced off so that small and elderly dogs can play apart from the big dogs.  We have only the basics so far.  The “extras” are expensive.  For example, a durable bench that meets city standards costs $2,000.

You’ll also recognize the need for stairs if you have been at the park in snowy or muddy conditions.  “Exercise Hill”, as the steep incline to the meadow as been dubbed, is climbable by dogs but even they have been seen to fall flat trying to get down it in the mud.  In the spring, there will be stairs built on one side so that people can take the easy way down and dogs have their choice of stairs or slide.  The path through the woods on the east part of the park also needs stairs because a natural spring there makes it wet and/or slippery in almost all weather.

All this, of course, costs money.  There is still some of our initial funds available for construction but we will need more.  The STDOA has submitted a couple of applications for grant monies, but we are trying everything we can think of to raise money from the community and those who directly benefit from use of the dog park.

Our executive is:

  • Luanne Demers, President
  • Joe Spencer, Vice-President and Liaison
  • Linda Spencer, Secretary
  • Wendy Leason, Fundraising and Membership Joint Coordinator
  • Lesley Renshaw, Fundraising and Membership Joint Coordinator
  • Aleks Lovelock, Webmaster
  • Dorothy Stewart, Treasurer and Editor

Photo: John Blake.  STDOA Executive members, with Ashley and Santa (centre back and front)

A big thank you goes to…

  • Elgin Chrysler, St. Thomas
  • Geralyn Lynch, St. John’s NL

for generous financial donations to STDOA for the Lions Club Dog Park.  Thank you, and thanks to our previous individual, business and civic donors who have helped us so much.

Our Featured Group


All Breed Canine Rescue (ABCR) was founded in 2004.  Without ABCR, there would be no rescue for pound dogs.  St. Thomas resident and businesswoman, Lois Jackson and a group of truly dedicated team of volunteers work every day to rescue abandoned and sick, injured dogs from the St. Thomas and London pounds.  ABCR is a member of a national rescue network, helping dogs from many high-kill shelters. ABCR has a well-functioning network with shelters, rescue and transportation groups to ensure successful re-homing of dogs.  ABCR provides medical treatment for the dogs, including neutering and microchipping.  The rescue dogs are fostered in private homes while they wait for forever homes.

In 2009, with the cat shelters overcrowded and euthanasia at the St. Thomas Animal Control shelter a grim potential, Lois and ABCR got involved with cat rescue as well.  ABCR’s focus is on rescuing dogs, but will also rescue cats rather than see them killed in a pound.

All Breed Canine Rescue’s dogs and cats can be seen at or call Lois at 519-633-6226.

Looking for a home…

Mia is a one yr old, very tiny female Jack Russell.  Mia has had a very hard start to life, and has been abandoned at the pound twice. Mia loves attention.  She needs owners with big hearts who will see her as the tiny angel she is. She is the cutest dog ever, and deserves love!



The Bark Park News

St. Thomas Dog Owners Association

Vol. 1 Issue 1, November 2009 [now changed to]


November 11th – We Remember

photo:  Wendy Leason; Mya, Leo and Charlie


2009 has been an auspicious year for the dogs of St. Thomas and their people.  The first off-leash dog park in St. Thomas, indeed in Elgin County, is scheduled to open in December of this year.  We are thrilled!  It is called the Lions Dog Park in recognition of the contribution made to its construction by the Lions Club of St. Thomas.

map:  St. Thomas Parks & Recreation Dept.

The Lions Dog Park is at the west end of town, in a ravine area between Talbot Street, old Talbot Street and Sunset Drive.  The entrance is on old Talbot Street, just west of Jumbo’s statue.  Pavement from the old road runs through part of the park, going west through a treed area toward Sunset.  Construction of fencing on the old Talbot Street sides and along Sunset Drive is due to be completed in early December.  Kettle Creek, which runs through the ravine, is the fourth boundary. A parking lot will be built on the old Talbot Street side, and stairs will be constructed to make easier access from the parking area to the open field down the hill.  Clearing of underbrush to open more ‘playing’ space will continue when weather permits.  But the park will be legally usable and functioning as of early December.

Our organization has also undergone some name changes.  These changes can be seen in our fund-raising and publicity items, all of which have different names on them!  We’re the same group, just evolving into the form which works best.  We began as the St. Thomas/Elgin Off-Leash Dog Park Association, and then became the shorter and simpler St. Thomas Dog Park Association.

Most recently, we have changed our name to the St. Thomas Dog Owners Association.  We believe that name more accurately reflects our mission for the overall well-being of dogs and keeps us in synch with other cities’ groups such as the London Dog Owners Association which looks after that city’s three dog parks.

As the St. Thomas Dog Owners Association, we will work with the City and park sponsors such as the Lions in the development and maintenance of the city’s dog parks.  Yes, we hope there will be more than one.  But, right now, our efforts are focused on the west end Lions Dog Park.  As we grow, and the demand for off-leash dog park areas grows, we hope to establish new committees which will seek establishment of a second, maybe even a third, dog park in town.

Who Are We?

Here’s a bit of our history and who we are for those who might wonder why, all of a sudden, St. Thomas City Council approved an off-leash park.  We are by no means the first people to try to get a dog park.  For 10 years at least, people individually and in groups have been trying to do this, to no avail.  But, due to those peoples’ efforts and a kind of serendipity, this time it came together with a group of determined and committed people and dogs.

Two years ago, a petition and information about a website calling for a dog park were circulating around town.  Almost everywhere doggie people went – veterinary clinics, pet stores, pet groomers – there was a petition and slips of paper giving the website name.  The petition could also be signed on-line.  Well over 1000 people signed the petition, on-line and in paper form.

About one year ago, the summer of 2008, a few people started going to a place to let their dogs run.  After coincidentally getting there at the same time and finding out their dogs enjoyed playing together, they arranged their timing so that they would meet.  More people and dogs joined them.  Few knew each other at the beginning.  We got to know the dogs, and then we’d connect the dogs with their people.

During these informal gatherings, some of us began talking about getting a real dog park.  Maybe it was the number of people who got involved, maybe it was the dogs who became insistent about going to see their playmates, maybe the efforts in the past by some of us and other people finally paid off.

We met at coffee shops and in peoples’ homes, and talked about how to keep the momentum going before the winter chill could disperse us.  The St. Thomas/Elgin Dog Park Association was created by some of those who met with their dogs, the petition organizer and others who wanted a dog park.  Over the winter, we lobbied City Council and received positive responses from Council and Parks & Recreation officials.

In July 2009, City Council passed a motion to amend the City by-law to allow an off-leash area for dogs and committed $15,000 toward the project.  Parks & Rec developed a list of potential sites and they and we assessed them during the summer.  All but one came to naught, either due to conflicting land use needs or physical problems with the sites.  The one that was presented at a public meeting on August 30th at the Timken Centre was the site on Old Talbot Street.  The members of the community in attendance approved it and later, at the September 12th meeting of City Council, so did all members of Council.

Meanwhile, the now-renamed St. Thomas Dog Park Association had been lobbying and fundraising for the park.  Two of our members were at the Iron Horse Festival in August with their classic car, and a dog park donation can beside it.  A couple of the people asking about the car and the dog park were executive members of the St. Thomas Lions Club.  They said maybe the club could help out.

Major fundraising debuted at the Fire Muster on Labour Day weekend.  We sold t-shirts, hats, homemade dog biscuits, doggy scarves and raffled off lots of gift baskets and gift certificates.  Everything was donated by local businesses and individuals – from the signage on our tent to the ‘silent auction’ hockey stick autographed by the NHL’s Joe Thornton.

photo:  Wendy Leason

We raised over $1200 in those two days.  But we still had a long way to go.

The Lions Club let us know that they would help us.  On November 4th, they made a deputation to City Council.  To the surprise of most of the dog park advocates in the audience, the Lions Club said they would match the City’s contribution.  Another $15,000!  That meant fencing costs were completely covered with money to spare for the parking lot and other necessary construction work.

We had the park signage covered, courtesy of a group member.  Through sales of t-shirts and hats and donations throughout the fall, we raised another $1,300.  We have collection boxes at stores across St. Thomas and have received in-kind donations from a variety of businesses.

We have changed our name, we hope for the final time.  We are now the St. Thomas Dog Owners Association.  This allows us to liaise with the City as an umbrella organization concerned with dog parks as well as all matters related to dogs.

We have developed an informal working relationship with All Breed Canine Rescue, the St. Thomas-based group dedicated to saving and rehoming unwanted dogs.  That relationship, like much about our group, evolved naturally.  Many of our ‘dog park dogs’ were adopted from ABCR and several are ‘foster dogs’ being cared for by our members until they find permanent homes.  We have dogs who came from the St. Thomas Animal Shelter, other rescue groups, from breeders and ones saved from puppy mills.

They are purebreds and mongrels, large and small.  The variety of types and backgrounds of our dogs, and sharing our dogs’ stories, keeps us aware of issues of dog ownership and dog care at the societal and individual levels.

photo:  Sandy Craig

Upcoming Events

Nov. 28 – Pet Photos with Santa.  Bring your dogs and/or cats for photographs with Santa at Dogs We Love, 43738 Talbot Line (east of Centennial) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be refreshments, draws and lots of fun!

STDOA Business

This newsletter will be sent to STDOA members on a quarterly basis.  Each issue will feature news from the park, upcoming events, and a profile of an animal rescue group, a breed or a noteworthy dog.

*If you have a dog (or dogs) and are not already a member of the STDOA, you can join for $20 a year, which covers all your dog(s) and family members. That gives you voting rights at our meetings (one vote per household).

*If you don’t have a dog, but would like to be part of the organization, you can become an associate member for $10 a year.  You can attend meetings and partake in discussions and activities, but not vote.

Please send membership fees and donations to the Treasurer, 5 Farmington Drive, St. Thomas ON N5R 5W8  Make cheques payable to St. Thomas Dog Owners Association.

If you want to help with fundraising, cleaning and clearing the park or have ideas you’d like to contribute, please contact our Fundraising Coordinator, Wendy, at 519-633-1785 or email


The STDOA Executive is:


  • Luanne Demers, President
  • Joe Spencer, Vice-President and Liaison
  • Linda Spencer, Secretary
  • Wendy Leason, Fundraising and Membership Joint Coordinator
  • Lesley Renshaw, Fundraising and Membership Joint Coordinator
  • Aleks Lovelock, Webmaster
  • Dorothy Stewart, Treasurer and Editor

Executive Dogs are Katie, Buddy, Roxy, Forte, Sassy, Mya, Lucy, Shandy, Leo and Charlie.

photo:  Sandy Craig; Leo and Charlie and friends


And a big thank you goes to…

Our local business contributors (as of November 2009) are:

  • A Slice of Pizza
  • Ansell’s Awards and Specialities
  • Briwood Market
  • Dogs We Love Natural Dog Food
  • Elgin Pet
  • Farmgate Market
  • Grandma Lynn’s Restaurant
  • Hair Ideas
  • Hair of the Dog Grooming
  • Home Away From Home Dog Boarding
  • Home Hardware
  • Impressions Printing
  • Linda Spencer Embroidery
  • M & M Meats
  • Pampered Pooch Grooming
  • The Pet Ranch Spa
  • Pizza Hut
  • Railway City Brewing Company
  • St. Thomas Paintball
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Stewart Screenprinting
  • The Wine Station

Individuals who have given gifts of goods or money are:

  • John Blake
  • Yvonne Cunnington
  • Trudy Deen
  • Susan Elliot & Karen Patrick
  • Marlene Scott
  • Marji Stewart
  • Joe Thornton
  • Gord Walden

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the City Council of St. Thomas and Ross Tucker and Catherine Spratley of the City’s Parks and Recreation Dept. as well as Lions Ron Jewel, Chuck West and Rob Burns who spearheaded the donation from the Lions Club of St. Thomas.

Dog Park Rules


Children are welcome at the dog park, but they must be accompanied by a dog.


Dogs must be accompanied by an adult, and have a current city dog tag and all shots.


You must clean up after your dog.


Adoption Corner

All Breed Canine Rescue


Forte is a beautiful German Shepherd-Lab mix about 3 or 4 years old.  He had a hard life due to apparent severe neglect, but survived to become a lovely dog in both looks and personality.

He is being fostered by members of STDOA.  This is what they say about him:  “Loves to go for car rides.  Gets along well with other dogs and enjoys Dog Park.  He will appreciate all the love and attention you can give him.  Excellent on lead and off with very good recall.  Forte would do well with an older active couple.  Fearful of children and young men on skateboards or bikes.  Very loyal to people he loves and trusts.”

If you would like to know more about Forte, or any of the other ABCR dogs, visit, email or call 519-633-6226

Printing of this brochure was kindly donated by Impressions Printing, 31 Laing Blvd. St. Thomas 519-633-1580.



If you need Adobe Reader to view the pdf file you can download it here for free:

The St. Thomas Dog Owners Association is a non-profit organization that promotes off leash dog parks and supports responsible dog ownership and the welfare of dogs.