Play Date Today, Annual Meeting Info, Updates, and More!

posted May 4, 2019, 5:55 AM by Larissa Pyer

First, a quick reminder that today, Saturday, May 4 is PetSafe's National Dog Park Day, and we are having a play date at the park from 2-4pm to celebrate. We'll have treats for people and pets, MVDPS t-shirts for sale, and also be kicking off our 2019 membership drive with a raffle including great prizes donated by park members! Ingrid's Park and the Small park will be open during the event, but note that the park is still not open for the season, so we will be closing up again promptly at 4pm. Due to continued soggy conditions and necessary repairs to our entry gates in all three parks, we are hoping to be able to open fully in late May, possibly around Memorial Day weekend. We will of course communicate any updates concerning the park opening via email, our website, and Facebook page.

Thank you to those of you that attended our Annual Meeting last Sunday. We enjoyed sharing our plans for the coming year with you, as well as hearing your suggestions and input. For those that were unable to attend, we have attached the presentation slide deck here. Of note, during the meeting the membership voted on and approved the following new/returning Board members: Marcy Innes, Vice President; Jo Shelnutt, Secretary; Larissa Pyer, Treasurer.

We also would like to give an update on the one year trial of allowing unaltered dogs in Ingrid's Park. The Board is pleased to report that the trial resulted in fewer complaints received regarding unaltered dogs in the Large and Small park areas. We also received no reports of incidents in Ingrid's Park during the trial period. As such, the Board recommended to the Enfield Selectboard that the rule be made permanent. On February 19th the Selectboard agreed to a permanent rule change which will allow unaltered dogs to use Ingrid's Park.

  • PetSafe National Dog Park Day - Saturday, May 4th, 2-4pm (TODAY!)
    Join us this Saturday, May 4th from 2-4pm for a play date at the park in celebration of National Dog Park Day! 

  • Spring Work Day - Saturday, May 18th, 9-11am (rain date Sunday 5/19)
    We have a laundry list of things that need to get done before the park can be opened for the season, and many hands make light work. The work day is a people-only event; we will have the service gates open in the parks for easy access, so leave your pups at home. Bring a shovel if you have one, work gloves, seed spreaders, rakes, and any other hand tools that you think might be useful.
Thank you, as always, for your continued support of the dog park!

Please don't leave things at the dog park!

posted Apr 10, 2019, 4:05 AM by Larissa Pyer

Please do NOT leave things at the dog park! Someone left an old (broken?) soft-sided crate near the Casella bin in the parking lot just before the park closed. Casella will not pick it up, and now we will have to pay to dispose of it. This is not the first time this has happened. If you have something in GOOD used condition that you would like to donate, please contact us first, don't just drop it off.

Dog Park Annual Meeting April 28th

posted Apr 10, 2019, 4:01 AM by Larissa Pyer

Mark your calendars for the Mascoma Valley Dog Park Supporters Annual Meeting on Sunday, April 28th at 1:00pm at the Enfield Department of Public Works building. We will come together to update you on the status of park operations and talk about plans for the coming year. Topics for discussion include planning work days, volunteer and fundraising opportunities, and voting in new Board members. Below are the Board positions up for election and their incumbents/nominees:

  • Vice President - Marcy Innes
  • Secretary - Melanie Ossman (not seeking re-election)
  • Treasurer - Larissa Pyer

Any member who wishes to be considered for a Board position is asked to notify us via email in advance of the meeting (by April 19th is appreciated) so that your name can be added to the agenda. Please refer to the attached document for full descriptions and responsibilities of each Board position. Note that this is a working board; while in-person meetings occur quarterly (or more often as needed), Board members are in regular contact via email on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis, as necessitated by the ongoing nature of park operations. 

As a reminder, the meeting is open to all, but only MVDPS members who have paid their dues for 2019 are eligible to vote, so please be sure to sign up for or renew your membership! You can do so in advance (see our website for details: or at the start of the meeting. If you signed up between October - December 2018, your membership counts for 2019 as well. If you're unsure of your membership status, reply to this email and we'll be happy to check for you.

MVDPS Board Responsibilities

Doggie Costume Contest Voting, Work Day, and more!

posted Oct 24, 2018, 4:03 AM by Larissa Pyer

Thank you to all that came to Howl-oween at the dog park! It was a chilly, blustery afternoon, but we had fun seeing all your cute puppers in their costumes. Don't forget to cast your vote in the costume contest on Facebook by liking/reacting to your favorites! Voting will stay open through 12pm this Friday, October 26th with prizes awarded for 1st and 2nd place as determined by the most likes/reactions.

We hope that you will join us on Saturday, November 3rd from 2-4pm for a Work Day at the dog park! (Note that in case the weather is more favorable on Sunday 11/4 we will move the workday to then). We have a laundry list of tasks to complete to get the park ready for winter, and many hands make light work. The work day is a people-only event; we will have the service gates open in the parks for easy access, so leave your pups at home. Dress for the weather and bring work gloves, wheelbarrows, rakes, and any other hand tools that you think might be useful, or just bring yourself - we will have some tools to share. Tasks include spreading fertilizer and grass seed, spreading gravel, and buttoning up the water and poop stations.

Please note that during the work day the Large and Small parks will be CLOSED for safety reasons. Ingrid's park will remain open for use, but visitors are reminded to use caution, especially when large and small dogs are playing together.

Membership Raffle Update
We need just 11 more members to reach our goal of 100 and draw for the winner of the CleverPet doggie game system! Sign up for membership today. If you visit the park regularly, please help us keep the park open by becoming a member. Your $25 annual dues go directly to supporting the park's ongoing maintenance costs like poop bags, waste pick-up from Casella, mowing and plowing, etc. 

Dog Park Updates - Volunteers Needed, Exclusive Raffle for Members

posted Aug 28, 2018, 10:32 AM by Larissa Pyer

Thank you to everyone that came to Paws in the Pool this past weekend! We had SO much fun and raised over $800 for the dog park and the Lebanon Recreation Department scholarship fund. Photos from the event will be posted on the Mel Tata Photography Facebook page.

We didn't want to have to resort to click-bait to get your attention, but the truth is, if we don't have volunteers to help with these tasks, we can't keep the park open. We need volunteers to cover the month of September (and beyond!). If you visit the park once a week (or more!), please sign up for a shift using the links below. You can also email us directly to sign up or for more information about volunteering. Please help us keep the park open!

Sign up here: Ball Patrol

MEMBER EXCLUSIVE RAFFLE We need just 19 more members in order to reach our goal of 100 for the 2018 season! Can you help us get there?

When we reach 100 members, we will do a random drawing from the MVDPS membership list for an AWESOME prize of a CleverPet gaming system. Yes, you read that right - this is essentially a game console FOR YOUR DOG! Check it out on the CleverPet website. The systems use positive reinforcement training techniques to play "games" with your dog. This prize is valued at $250 and we were fortunate to have one donated by a loyal dog-park member and constant supporter, Bill Stearns. Thank you, Bill!

Not sure of your membership status? Send us an email and we'll be happy to check for you.

Dog Park Yard Sale - Volunteers Needed!

posted Jun 7, 2018, 8:55 AM by Larissa Pyer   [ updated Jun 7, 2018, 8:57 AM ]

First, thank you to everyone that helped with our Bake Sale last weekend, whether you donated baked goods, staffed the sale, or purchased treats! We raised $280 for the dog park, which will help cover the cost of keeping the grass mowed this month. Now, as you're doing your spring cleaning, don't forget to set aside some items to donate to the dog park yard sale! 

Our annual Benefit Yard Sale is coming right up on Saturday, June 16 from 8am-3pm at 22 Dulac Street in Lebanon. We are still accepting donations of any and all items in good shape to sell at this event (no clothing, please, and electrical items must work). If you have items to donate, you can drop them off at the sale site any time before the sale. Items may be left in the driveway. If you have large or heavy items like furniture we ask that you drop them off on the morning of the sale. 

We are also looking for assistance with staffing the yard sale. Please sign up for a shift here (or email us your availability) if you can help. Thank you in advance! 

Dog Park is Open - Volunteers Needed!

posted May 22, 2018, 4:15 AM by Larissa Pyer

First, a big thank you to all the volunteers that came to the work day on Sunday. We got a ton accomplished and couldn't have done it without your help. All three parks are now open for the season! A couple things to note:
  • There is a big area in the Large Dog park that is fenced off. The turf really took a beating here and didn't come back this spring as we'd hoped, so we're re-seeding it and hoping to have the grass reestablished there sometime later in the summer.
  • For the coming year, Ingrid's Park (the training park) will be open to both spayed/neutered and unaltered dogs of all ages. Please note that all other park rules still apply, and that unaltered dogs over 1 year of age are not permitted in the Large or Small dog park areas. The full text (and context) of this one year trial is below.
Now that the park is open, in order to STAY open we need volunteers to cover poop duty and water patrol through the summer, and beyond. These volunteer tasks are essential to keeping the dog park open, so we need you!

Poop Duty involves emptying the waste bins inside each park and refilling the bag dispensers. Water Patrollers rinse out the water coolers and dishes and wipe them down with disinfectant. These jobs are quick and easy, and can be done during one of your regular dog park visits! Sign up for a once-a-week shift for one month at a time (i.e. every Wednesday in June). If you can help, please email us at or sign up here! We will provide training if you have not already helped us in the past.

NEW - Unaltered dogs Welcome in Ingrid's Park

The issue regarding the park rule around unaltered dogs has been heard and addressed by the MVDPS Board. In partnership with the Town of Enfield (Town Manager and Town Counsel) an amendment to our original rule was presented to the Board of Selectmen. On April 2nd the Enfield Selectboard agreed to a one year trial in which unaltered dogs will be allowed to use Ingrid's Park (aka the training park). The full text of the approved, amended rule is below. We will revisit this with the Selectboard, and at our annual meeting next year, following the one year trial.

All dogs over one year of age must be spayed/neutered to use the Small or Large Dog Parks. Unaltered dogs of either sex are prohibited from using the Small or Large Dog Parks, but may use Ingrid’s Park. Handlers of unaltered dogs must alert other users of Ingrid’s Park to the unaltered state of their dog(s). Female dogs of any age, while in heat, are not permitted in any of the Parks (Small Dog, Large Dog, and Ingrid’s Park), in accordance with RSA 466:31.

2018 Annual Meeting - Minutes & Slide Deck

posted Apr 30, 2018, 1:11 PM by Larissa Pyer

The Annual Meeting was held on Sunday, April 29 at 1pm at the Enfield Community building. See the attached files for the meeting minutes and presentation slide deck. Of note, during the meeting the membership voted on and approved the following:

Updated/expanded set of organizational bylaws (see attached).
New slate of Board members: Marcia Herrin, President; Marcy Innes, Vice President; Melanie Ossman, Secretary; Larissa Pyer, Treasurer; Paul Osgood, Member at Large

Dog Park Annual Meeting April 29th

posted Apr 9, 2018, 11:15 AM by Larissa Pyer

Mark your calendars for the Mascoma Valley Dog Park Supporters Annual Meeting on Sunday, April 29th at 1:00pm at the Enfield Community Center. We will come together to update you on the status of park operations and talk about plans for the coming year. Topics for discussion include planning work days, volunteer and fundraising opportunities, and revising our organizational bylaws.

The MVDPS Board has been working with attorney Jack Kauders to improve the original bylaws, which were quite simple, in order to help guide MVDPS into the future. The proposed amended and expanded bylaws are attached, as well as the original set. Jack will be present at the meeting to assist in the discussion around the bylaws and answer any questions that may arise. We will be voting to adopt the amended and expanded bylaws at the meeting.

We will also be voting on an updated slate of Board members. Below are the Board positions and their incumbents/nominees who are seeking election:

  • President - Marcia Herrin
  • Vice President - Marcy Innes 
  • Secretary - Melanie Ossman
  • Treasurer - Larissa Pyer 
  • Member at Large - Paul Osgood 

Any member who wishes to be considered for a Board position is asked to notify us via email in advance of the meeting (by April 15th is appreciated) so that your name can be added to the agenda. Please refer to the attached documents for full descriptions and responsibilities of each Board position. Note that this is a working board; while in-person meetings occur quarterly (or more often as needed), Board members are in regular contact via email on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis, as necessitated by the ongoing nature of park operations. 

As a reminder, the meeting is open to all, but only MVDPS members who have paid their dues for 2018 are eligible to vote, so please be sure to sign up for or renew your membership! You can do so in advance (see our website for details: or at the start of the meeting. If you're not sure of your membership status, shoot us a message and we can check for you.

We hope to see you there!

MVDPS Rules Rationale, Safety Protocol, and Incident Reporting

posted Mar 9, 2018, 7:41 AM by Larissa Pyer

Dear members and supporters of the dog park:

Concern has been raised about the Shaker Field Dog Park rule which prohibits unaltered dogs over one year of age from using the park. In light of this concern, the Mascoma Valley Dog Park Supporters (MVDPS), the non-profit group which manages the Shaker Field Dog Park for the Town of Enfield, has elected to provide the history and rationale for this particular rule.

We are also excited to announce our recently established safety protocol procedure and incident report form, in which the Town Manager and Enfield Selectboard will be involved in enforcing the Park’s rules. As part of this process, both our rules and the safety protocol were reviewed (and edited) by the Town Counsel.


The primary purpose of the dog park is to create a safe and fun environment for the general public and their dogs. This principle guided the creation of the rules and regulations, as well as being at the heart of all other decisions made in regard to the park.

The Shaker Field Dog Park Rules and Regulations were initially drafted in 2014 after considerable research by the MVDPS Board and members of the Construction Design Committee. This research included consulting the one recognized manual on dog parks, Dog Park Design, Development, and Operation, by M.R. Glasser, EdD, CPRP, CPSI, 2103, as well as local veterinarians, trainers, and canine behavior specialists. Scientific studies were reviewed, as were, practices of other dog parks across the United States.

The Shaker Field Dog Park Rules and Regulations were approved prior to the construction of the park by the Enfield Selectboard, and were published on our website and Facebook page well in advance of the park opening. Additionally, the rules and regulations have been displayed on signage at the park since its opening day in August of 2015.


The MVDPS Board has invested a significant amount of time over the past two weeks in researching and reviewing our rule regarding unneutered dogs. We’ve broken down our findings into three categories: Science, Professional Opinions, and Dog Park Best Practices.


Note: The research we cite here supports the rationale for not allowing unaltered dogs in the Shaker Field Dog Park. We are aware that recent studies question whether unaltered dogs are indeed more aggressive and even that altered dogs may have an increase in aggressiveness. As fenced, off-leash dog parks are a relatively new phenomenon, we are unable to find any research specifically assessing the behavior of neutered vs. unneutered dogs within the confines of a dog park.

  1. The Effects of Spaying and Neutering on Canine Behavior
    Ben and Hart at the University of California carried out one of the most extensive surveys on the effects of gonadectomy on dogs, finding that at least in intermale aggression, aggression was reduced by neutering in 60% of cases with rapid reduction in 25%, and gradual reduction in 35% (Fogle, 1990, p. 53). Neilson, Eckstein, and Hart, (1997) found that approximately 25% of adult dogs that were aggressive toward humans or other dogs in the household can be expected to have a 50 to 90% level of improvement after gonadectomy. A 50 - 90% level of improvement can likewise be observed in 10 to 15% of dogs that are aggressive toward unfamiliar people or human territorial intruders after gonadectomy.

    Testosterone tends to promote greater reactivity in dogs. They trigger a little quicker to aversive stimuli and respond a bit more intensely and for slightly longer duration. Affecting the magnitude of aggressive behavior could be particularly helpful in many cases.

  2. Benefits of Castration in Male Dogs J. Belen and C.M. Brady, Purdue Department of Animal Sciences
    Castration of male dogs results in a rapid or gradual decline of indoor urine marking, intermale aggression, and mounting of other dogs in approximately 50 to 70 percent of the dogs after castration. However, roaming to find a potential mate is reduced in 90 percent of the dogs (Hopkins, Schubeit, and Hart, 1976)

  3. A literature review on the welfare implications of gonadectomy of dogs Kendall E. Houlihan DVM
    Gonadectomy and the resultant decrease in gonadal steroid hormones typically result in a marked reduction or elimination of sexually dimorphic behaviors, including roaming, hormonal aggression (fighting with other males or females), and urine marking.2,15,28,29,110,112–114 In males, the age at castration or duration of the behavior does not change the likelihood that surgery will alter these unwanted behaviors.113,114

    The literature provides consistent results regarding the effects of gonadectomy on behaviors driven by testosterone or estrogen; however, studies involving behaviors not directly related to gonadal steroid hormones have resulted in mixed findings.

    Differences in study designs and results create additional challenges when the potential consequences of gonadectomy on behavior are evaluated...Interpretation of the literature related to behavioral changes after gonadectomy is further complicated by various definitions of aggression as well as comparisons of similar-appearing but potentially unrelated behaviors (eg, aggression, reactivity or energy level, and excitability).120 It is also possible that gonadectomy was recommended for some dogs as part of a behavior treatment plan, which would artificially increase the number of spayed or neutered dogs with behavioral problems.28

  4. Everything you wanted to know about castration of dogs.
    Dogs reach the highest levels of testosterone aged approximately 6-12 months after which levels plateau (Pathirana et al., 2012). It is at this time they are most likely to be the target of competitive aggression from other male dogs.
    Testosterone can increase sexual behaviours (sexually based humping, mating, marking, roaming - looking for a mate).

●      Testosterone can increase confidence (Eisenegger et al., 2016). This is useful for timid dogs but may not be helpful with over confident dogs.

●      Testosterone can be responsible for increased “persistence” (Welker and Carré, 2014).

●      Testosterone can increase risk taking behaviours (Stanton, Liening &Schulthesis, 2011).

●      Testosterone can increase the risk of competitive aggression between males (an adaptive behaviour to ensure the fittest offspring).”

  1. Mandatory desexing of dogs: one step in the right direction to reduce the risk of dog bite? A systematic review
    CONCLUSIONS: There is consistent evidence that desexing dogs is associated with a reduced risk of dog bite, although the studies reflect association and may not be causal. Although recent publications have suggested desexing is associated with health and behavioural costs in some breeds, population level evidence supports desexed dogs having a longer lifespan, and being less likely to wander with the added benefit of reducing unwanted litters. Thus, mandatory desexing presents a possible opportunity for prevention of dog bites expanding dog bite prevention beyond an education-only approach.

  2. Dog bites to humans—demography, epidemiology, injury, and risk
    Studies identifying only aggression, rather than a specific diagnosis involving aggression, indicate that intact male dogs are more often implicated in aggression than are castrated ones.(68-70) Most dogs for which dominance aggression is diagnosed are male.(68-70) Although dog bite data often do not indicate whether dogs are intact or neutered, data for dominantly aggressive dogs seem to indicate that reproductive status has little effect on whether a dog receives a diagnosis of dominance aggression.(68-70) Testosterone acts as a behavior modulator that makes dogs react more intensely. When an intact dog decides to react, it reacts more quickly, with greater intensity, and for a longer period of time. If that dog reacts to a strange person or another dog, it will be quicker to bark, growl, or bite and will continue that behavior longer than would a neutered dog.(67-71) Castration decreases aggression exhibited toward other dogs(67); however, few data exist regarding its effect on other specific aggressive behaviors.

  3. Dog Bite Injuries and Fatalities in the United States: Dog Bite Risk Factors
    Summary: Male dogs are 6.2 times more likely to bite than female dogs, sexually intact dogs are 2.6 times more likely to bite than neutered dogs

  4. American Animal Hospital Association - Pet Health Library - Dog Care - Behavior
    Intact (non-neutered) male dogs are responsible for approximately 80 percent of fatal bites. When dogs are altered, they lose some of their territorial instincts, including a lot of their territorial aggression.

  5. Elective Spaying and Neutering of Pets - Gonadectomy Resources for Veterinarians American Veterinary Medical Association website
    Both the American College of Theriogenologists and the Society for Theriogenology assert that companion animals not intended for breeding should be spayed or neutered, unless contraindicated by the pet’s age, breed, sex, intended use, household environment, or temperament. Any potential consequences for an individual animal must also be weighed with the necessity of managing the individual animal and overall breed or species populations.

Professional Opinions

How To Teach A New Dog Old Tricks by Dr. Ian Dunbar, veterinarian, animal behaviourist, and author

Most importantly, castrated male dogs are involved in far fewer fights than their male counterparts with testicles. All dogs have disagreements, and most dogs fight. However, over 90% of dog fights occur between uncastrated male dogs. Strangely enough, castration does not make dogs less inclined to fight, neither does it reduce the dog's social standing vis a vis other dogs. Instead, castration reduces the desire for other dogs to pick fights with your dog. Castration removes the source of testosterone, the male sex hormone which makes male dogs smell male. Thus, castrated males appear to be less of a threat to other males, which consequently will be less aggressive and combative towards your dog. In a sense, castration makes your dog appear to be less obnoxious to others. Furthermore, if other dogs are more relaxed around your dog, your dog will feel more relaxed around them, and thus, he will be much easier to control.

A Community Approach to Dog Bite Prevention (abstract) Gail C. Golab, PhD, DVM

Intact (unneutered) male dogs represented 90% of dogs presented to veterinary behaviorists for dominance aggression, the most commonly diagnosed type of aggression.2 Intact males are also involved in 70 to 76% of reported dog bite incidents.7,15

Canine Aggression Part 1 Gary L. Clemmons, DVM

A re-analysis of Borchelt’s (1983) data indicates the following.

·  Dominance aggression: Intact males represented more frequently than neutered males or females

·  Fear aggression: Intact females represented more frequently then intact males

·  Protective aggression: Neutered males represented more commonly than neutered females

·  Possessive aggression: Intact males represented more frequently than intact females and castrated males represented more frequently than intact females (Overall, 1997)

Should Dogs be Neutered? Therese Bienek, DVM

Therese Bienek got her veterinarian’s degree in the USA and worked there for a couple of years. Now she’s also been a vet in Oslo for two years. She says her workday is affected by the fact that so few dogs are neutered and spayed here, compared to in America. “I’d never sutured so many bite wounds on dogs as I’ve been doing since I got back to Norway.” Bienek says she only treated one case of a dog biting another during her two years in the States. She thinks that sex hormones lead to unnecessary stress and aggression among dogs.

How can I stop my dog from peeing on strangers? Nicole Wilde, CPDT-KA, canine behaviour specialist and author first question is whether he’s neutered. Marking is one of those behaviours neutering may eliminate, although it’s not always the case. If your boy is still intact and there are no mitigating circumstances, you might wish to seriously consider having him neutered. Neutering might also help with male-male dog aggression, which can be an issue at dog parks.  

Dog Park Best-Practices

Dog parks across the United States vary widely in almost every aspect, and there is no central repository for which to find information on them collectively. For the purposes of our research, we studied public (municipal) fenced-in dog parks. Because there is no central database for dog parks in the US, there was no easy way to collect this data. Therefore, our findings are most certainly not exhaustive, but do show that there is a significant precedent for a rule prohibiting unaltered dogs.

Our findings, which were a result of exhaustive online searches, revealed over 100 other dog parks with the same, or similar, rule (click here for a full list of parks, including links to their rules). Some of these parks specifically prohibit unneutered male dogs, but allow unaltered female dogs (except for those in heat). Additionally, some have age restrictions lower than ours by which time dogs should be altered (6 months and 8 months of age). We could find no dog parks that prohibited altered dogs.

MVDPS was, and is, well aware that there is no consensus on rules about unaltered dogs, with some dog parks considering it prudent to not allow unaltered dogs, therefore reducing opportunities for aggressiveness, fights, and nuisance behaviors like humping and marking (i.e., peeing on people, other dogs, etc.), while others consider it overly strict.

Of particular interest is the number of parks who now share this rule. In 2015, when we began  our research to draft the rules for the park, this rule existed, but was considered among the more conservative of rules and therefore was less prevalent. Now, to the best of our knowledge and review, one out of every 3 or 4 parks seem to have adopted this rule.


We understand and appreciate that this is an issue of which there are many differing viewpoints, and that within the scientific community there may not be total consensus. However, there continues to be a significant amount of support among the scientific and canine professional communities for the rationale behind it, not to mention the plethora of  dog parks who have such rules. As a result of our findings, the Board has determined that this rule still serves it’s initial and intended purpose of reducing the chances of negative altercations at the park.

We are fortunate that here in the Upper Valley there are two public dog parks to serve our population. The Watson Upper Valley Dog Park in Hartford, VT allows unaltered dogs (except for females in heat). Several MVDPS Board members are also members of the Watson Dog Park, and we encourage owners of both altered and unaltered dogs to visit their park.

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