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Vaughn Road Park

By Kate and Stephen

At 21 acres, Vaughn Road Park isn’t Montgomery’s biggest park (that would be Lagoon Park, at 410 acres by far the largest of the city’s 90 parks), but it’s got to be one of the very nicest. Even in the most sweltering parts of summer, there are tennis courts that seem to be in use just about every day. Our tennis-playing friends tell us that the folks who play there are pretty intense/talented. There are shelters with benches and grills for cooking out and a well-kept half-mile jogging trail that traces the outline of the park. Along the jogging trail are the sad remains of a decayed Parcourse Fitness Trail (invented by the Swiss!) – the rings are still there (and likely to sear your hand right off if you touch them in summer), but the wooden sit-up planks are rickety and full of splinters. Too bad.

Still, the grass is abundant and well-kept — and there are even nice pockets of shade around the park. On the weekends, Vaughn Park is full of people flying kites, boys practicing gymnastics, tiny children carrying around tinier puppies and being chased by family members balancing hamburgers and red plastic cups of sweet tea.

The real star of the park is its playground. For children of a certain age, this is a paradise. Things that spin in crazy ways sit next to elaborate climbing devices. There are trails winding around the side under big overhanging lilac bushes for hiding and conspiring, floors that are rubber and thus less likely to cause injury, and ramps that make the whole park accessible to children of varying levels of mobility.

Volunteer labor largely built this playground. With the of support New Haven-based Boundless Playgrounds, it opened in September of 2003 and has probably delighted tens of thousands of children since then. We had never heard of Boundless Playgrounds until visiting Vaughn Park, but are really impressed by their beautiful vision and ideas – and it’s so cool that one of these state of the art playgrounds is right here in Montgomery and accessible to the general public. The playground makes a trip to Vaughn Park worth it, even if you don’t take a turn getting a push on a swing.

In an era where people view any municipal services as some kind of crazy Socialist tyranny, a visit to a city park can be a nice reminder of the value of community space. We don’t know enough to comment on how well the city funds its parks and recreation department (or how well that department does with the money it is allotted), but we can say for sure that Vaughn Park is one of the crown jewels of the system and our time in Montgomery is laced with many happy memories of trips there. Here’s hoping that the other parks in the city are one day as great as Vaughn.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a dog, a cat, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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Filed under City services, Government, Kate and Stephen, Parks, Pets

Happy Paws Dog Walking

Millie Jones and her two Great Danes, Honey and Mister

By Kate and Stephen

“I would, but I’m just so tired when I get home from work.”

“We’ll make up for it when the weather gets better…”

“I want to, but I just don’t have time.”

There are a lot of excuses that people use for not taking their canine companions for vigorous daily walks. Certainly, in a fast-paced world, where many jobs require extended travel and many more require extended (or unpredictable) hours, it makes sense that people are putting in a lot of time into their job(s).

But those excuses don’t really make sense to the faithful friends who stay at home when their owners go to work. And for many of those dogs whose tails wag the hardest when their owners come home, a little bathroom break and a sliver of yard time just don’t provide enough of the exercise that dogs want and need.

Millie Jones saw that a lot of dog owners were feeling bad about putting pet exercise on the back burner. As the owner of two dogs, she knows that dogs simply need to get up, get out, stretch their legs and get the blood flowing.

“I see many people who work a lot,” Jones said. “They might have puppies that need some attention while they’re away all day. Or just an adult dog that needs to be checked on, get a walk, have the food and water topped off.”

A massage therapist on weekends, Jones is working on her masters degree at AUM and launched Happy Paws Dog Walking on New Years Day. It’s primarily a dog walking service, but she also said she’d be willing to check on a cat or other pets while owners are on vacation or out of town.

Growing up in Montgomery, her family always had Collies. And as the owner of two 130-pound Great Danes, Honey and Mister, she’s confident that she can handle anything.

“Animals need companionship and attention. That’s why I got a second dog. Dogs really appreciate it when you pay attention, but there’s also a training element where a lot of owners, especially of younger dogs, might want someone that can see them during the day and reinforce basic commands.”

At rates outlined on her website, Jones will set up an initial meeting with the pet, get to know them, and learn any needed details, such as favorite hiding spots or particular commands. She also carries special “pet sitter” liability insurance.

“We’re always on a leash, and there’s no doubt about it that I’d love to get as many clients in Midtown as possible because it’s the best area in the city for walking dogs. There are wide streets and some sidewalks and a lot of pet owners in these neighborhoods.”

For more information about Happy Paws Dog Walking, contact Millie by phone at 334-202-2426 or by email at millieannjones[at]yahoo.com.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a dog, a cat, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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Filed under Kate and Stephen, Municipal business, Pets