Phil Braschear throws a foam football as he plays with his dog Loki at the new Falls Bark Dog Park in Pendleton. Staff photo by Don Knight
Phil Braschear throws a foam football as he plays with his dog Loki at the new Falls Bark Dog Park in Pendleton. Staff photo by Don Knight
PENDLETON — Loki was the only pup in the park on a cloudy Thursday afternoon, but that didn't deter him from sprinting after a tennis ball and jumping in the air for a Frisbee.

The year-old silver Labrador retriever loves the Falls Bark Dog Park, 460 Falls Park Dr., and he'll drag his owners, Tina and Phil Braschear, there at any opportunity.

"We're here about every day whenever the weather permits," Phil Braschear said. "He's got his own friends here. He's got his best buddies and they all swarm each other as soon as they walk in."

Phil Braschear used a tennis ball launcher to throw the ball across the park and Loki tore after the ball at a breakneck pace.

"I used to think Loki was super fast," he said. "He's got a good buddy named Yogi, and Yogi smokes him."

The only thing the lab loves more than tennis balls is water. The pup will find and frolic in any puddle, big or small. After heavy rains in late April, Loki jumped into Fall Creek at Falls Park, and before the Braschears knew it, he was drifting downstream.

"He's grounded from water right now," Phil Braschear said. "But look, he finds it anyway." The pup was rolling around in a small puddle near the park's fencing as he spoke.

Loki is a high-energy dog, and that energy can be easily expended at the park. Additionally, he is the Braschears' only dog, and before becoming a regular at Falls Bark, he wasn't socialized with other dogs, Tina Braschear said.

"I was a little nervous about bringing him at first, especially since he was a puppy," she said. "I thought 'What if they mow him down? But this has been a great experience. Everybody is his buddy."

Falls Bark began as a Pendleton Heights High School senior class project for students who graduated summa cum laude, according to Logan Marshall, a PHHS grad who helped spearhead the project during his senior year.

The project started in fall 2017 with 22 students. They broke into groups focused on fundraising, communicating with the Town of Pendleton Parks Board and planning, with a few kids who "floated" between each group, Marshall said.

"I'm an Eagle Scout, and there was another student who was one also, and we're really familiar with the trails at Falls Park," he said. "So there was a lot of work with planning and mapping things out there."

Marshall, who is now a Purdue University sophomore majoring in industrial engineering, said one of the challenges that the group had to overcome was submitting an application to the Department of Natural Resources and the parks department to begin building.

After spending their entire senior year working on the park, he said the students are still invested in the project.

"The grand opening was in March and I was there," he said. "Eleven students came back for it, and it was a really cool thing to see, all of that hard work coming to fruition."

DALEVILLE ADDING PARK FOR PUPS

Pendleton isn't the only town sporting a new dog park this summer. Daleville will debut its dog park this summer, Deputy Clerk-Treasurer Trina Richardson said.

Richardson said the park has been in the town's sights for years. When Daleville started looking into building onto the Daleville Town Hall Park, 8029 S. Walnut St., the pup park was always a part of the discussion.

"We talked about the dog park in the first place years ago," she said. "We first considered it in 2014 and then again in 2017, when we began looking ahead. We already knew where it would go, and we already knew what fixtures we wanted to have."

The park is dedicated to K9 Nugent, who was put down in March. There will be a plaque, with some of his ashes, dedicated to the police dog at the entry of the park.

"Nugent was special to all of us, so dedicating the park to him really gives it an extra meaning," she said.

Richardson said she's excited for the park's grand opening, and so are Daleville residents.

"I'm not exaggerating, we've had about 500 calls from people asking, 'When are you going to open? Is it open yet?'" she said.

The official opening date hasn't been set yet, but Richardson said the park will open the same day as the splash pad, which will likely be in late May or early June.

Richardson said she's looking forward to seeing dogs and residents socialize over the new attraction, something that Tina Braschear said she's enjoyed at Falls Bark.

"It not only makes the dogs socialize but it makes the humans interact, too," she said. "It's like a little club that we're all in. We're all getting to know each other and it's building the community in a way that wasn't there before, and that's been really fun."

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