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Pups & Parks

Since I was 4 years old, I’ve always had a dog. I grew up with three rambunctious little dogs greeting me every day when I’d come home from school. Taking care of them was part of my routine, although I give all the credit to my parents for raising two kids and three dogs. Back in Illinois, my childhood summer evenings consisted of jumping in the car and taking them to the dog park or on a walk with my dad through the neighborhood.

My childhood dog, Jack, and I resting while I stayed home sick from school.

For me, dogs provide an unexplainable level of happiness, so when I moved to Reno - almost 2,000 miles away from my childhood dogs - I was pretty devastated to not have my furry friends around. Moving was difficult and while I enjoy change I needed some sense of familiarity. After going back and forth for over a year, I finally adopted a dog from the SPCA! Meet Cooper: a social, 2 year-old, border collie mix.

Cooper and I hiking at Waddle Ranch Preserve in California.

Adopting him was pretty nerve-wracking. Sure, I’ve taken care of a lot of dogs, but I’ve never had my own. The volunteers and staff at the SPCA were incredibly helpful. They answered all my questions and made sure I knew what I was getting myself into. Sadly, I’m Cooper’s third family. While he’s an incredibly friendly and social dog, he also has a lot of energy and anxiety. However, when I mentioned I’m an active hiker and runner, SPCA staff immediately knew we were the perfect match.

Part of having a dog with even a trace of border collie requires a good outlet for them to use their energy. For Coop and I, it means heading to one of the awesome dog parks or off-leash areas in Reno. I’ve only had him for a month and boy can he run so we vary which dog-friendly places we visit depending on the day. Everywhere we go Cooper makes a new friend - which makes sense to me… just look at him!

Nap time for Cooper!

When I’m not spending time with Cooper, I am serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at the Parks Foundation. Part of my role has been helping coordinate our fiscal sponsorship projects. These projects typically begin with a few dedicated citizens and become a reality with the Parks Foundation’s strategic support. The Biggest Little Dog Park, one of our more robust fiscal sponsorship projects, has been central to my AmeriCorps service, so it makes sense that it’s one of Coop’s favorite spots. Typically we spend some time playing fetch and running within the perimeter of the park to get some cardio in for the both of us. Luckily, the park is in the heart of downtown and it’s the perfect location to meet new people and pups. Just like people, dogs can suffer from depression, so it’s important to provide them with physical and mental stimulation to support their needs. Dog-friendly parks and trails have been a lifesaver and I definitely encourage you to get outside with your pup and explore! There’s parks big and small all over town, so there’s something for everyone!

Cooper exploring the Biggest Little Dog Park.

For dog-friendly hiking tips, check out one of our recent blog posts by Kimberly Cruz.

For more information about the Biggest Little Dog Park, fundraising goals, and to donate please visit

As a reminder, please be responsible when taking your pet around town and always properly dispose of pet waste.


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