AUGUSTA — While Sunday morning’s weather proved almost too warm for the sled dogs to work, the animals appeared ecstatic to meet and greet people attending Winter Fun Day at Mill Park.

A community celebration of the dog park, located at Mill Park, was organized by the Augusta Dog Park Advisory Committee, according to member Stephanie McMillan, and both canines and their owners turned out in force.

Hermie, 7, of Waterville, front paws pushing on the cyclone fencing, barked a greeting to every new visitor. Then the terrier would scurry around between the two interconnected areas to make sure no one slipped in without his noticing.

His owners, Markayla and John Morris, watched indulgently, occasionally calling him over for a pet.

“He’s a very loud, very spunky Jack Russell,” Markayla Morris said.

They are regular users of the dog park because both Morrises work in Augusta. They heard about the Sunday’s event on the radio.


“We knew there’d be a bunch of people,” she said, adding, “The more dogs the better.”

Stella, an 8-month-old reddish golden/lab mix, joined a group of three other dogs chasing a tennis ball. She hung back a little watching what the others did.

Owner Sarah Cummings of Waterville stood nearby watching.

She too prefers to let Stella run at the Augusta Dog Park.

“There’s always dogs here,” she said. “This is a good supplement to doggy day care and puppy class.”

When Stella ran too far or got too friendly, Cummings had a supply of high-value dog treats. “If she knows we have them, she’s more likely to listen,” Cummings said.


Stella makes lots of friends and expends lot of energy. “She’s always tired, when she comes home,” Cummings said.

Augusta Police Department Animal Control Officer Francois Roodman surveyed the scene all over Mill Park, walking and driving a specialized tracked vehicle.

He left his two dogs at home to avoid distractions during the community event.

“I’m glad to see new faces,” he said. He serves as liaison with the dog park committee as well.

Roodman praised the Augusta Public Works and Parks and Recreation divisions for helping to clear snow from Canal Street and the Mill Park Parking area as well as the dog park itself.

That work is done only after the service roads and other more pressing places are cleared, he said.


Other city police and the fire department came out for the event as well. Officer Brad Chase scooted down a hill on a saucer, practicing for the anticipated sled- with-an-officer event.

The Burger & Freys food truck came from Gardiner, and the Augusta Rotarians and the Kennebec Valley Humane Society had tables as well.

Over at the main entrance to Mill Park, Julie Bjeklo, who works with Church Hill Kennels of Augusta, helped with 14 sled dogs. She replaced straw bedding, filling water bowls and tried to calm the animals who clearly wanted to be racing across the nearby snowy expanse despite the warm weather.

Some of the animals came from Heywood Kennel Sled Dog Adventures, also on Church Hill Road in Augusta.

Bjeklo said Church Hill Kennels gets sled dogs recently retired from racing. The goal, she said, it to let them keep running and do what they love,” as well as give them lots of rest and relaxation.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

Twitter: @betadams


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: