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See Sandra run the dog park

It may seem like a total contradiction, but Sandra Fraser is currently without a dog of her own.

“It’s been a rough year,” said the longtime BC resident who has been running (pun intended) the See Spot Run dog park for the past eight years — half of the time the park has been in existence.

That quote will strike most people as a huge understatement. In truth, it’s been the kind of year that would bring someone without an enormous reservoir of toughness to their knees.

About nine months ago, Fraser and her husband lost their silver Lab named Dylan. Then, four months later in February of this year, her husband William, a finish carpenter who had lived in Boulder City for more than 50 years, passed.

She recounted this as she stood outside of the dog park with the thermometer reading 108 degrees and wind gusting at more than 35 miles per hour out of the south answering questions and standing for photos. Oh, and one other thing. “I just had heart surgery,” she says. “Valve replacement. I’m 27 days out.”

It should come as no surprise that someone this tough has been able to keep See Spot Run going despite huge challenges over that past few years.

It wasn’t just the pandemic, though that did present challenges including fundraising that is the life-blood of the park. See Spot Run exists in a kind of governmental no-man’s-land. Located near the southeast corner of Veterans’ Memorial Park, the land belongs to the city, but the improvements and maintenance are all paid for via private fundraising.

“When Margaret Kolar started the park 16 years ago, the city generously agreed to lease this land for a dog park. The lease rate is just $1 and they have renewed the lease every five years. Our lease comes up for renewal again next year,” Fraser explained.

History has it that Kolar started the project after a chance meeting with former Boulder City Mayor Bob Ferraro when she was looking for a local spot to exercise an energetic stray dog that she and her husband had rescued. See Spot Run is more than just the name of the dog park, it is also the moniker of the non-profit organization that Kolar started and that Fraser has kept running.

“We couldn’t do any of this without our sponsors,” Fraser says, listing Steven Stubbs, Chilly Jillyz Bakery and Cafe, Fox Smokehouse BBQ, Y Town Custom Construction, Southwest Diner, BC Real Estate, Woodbury Law and Boulder Dam Credit Union.

And while those are the names you will see posted on signs around the park, they are far from the full story of funding.

“We do several fundraisers throughout the year,” Fraser said. “Our April bingo event will be back next year after being away for a few years; we do a calendar every year and regular bake sales at the Credit Union.”

Standing for a photo, at her feet are parts of another fundraising opportunity. Many people have purchased paving stones with the names of their pets engraved.

“We host work days on the second Saturday of each month from 7 to 11 a.m. where people can come out to help with keeping the park clean and we’ve had several projects done by scouts as the Eagle Scout project.” Fraser rattles off a continued list of benefactors.

“The Forest Service planted 160 trees on the property, the National Park Service donated all of our benches. And we are always looking for board members,” she said. The four-person board for the nonprofit meets on the third Wednesday of each month from 7 to 8 p.m. at the multi-use building at 1204 6th St.

Fraser says she puts all of the time and work in just because she loves dogs. The one-time floral designer with a shop in Las Vegas for 47 years (she still does some floral work privately and also works as an adult caregiver) can be found at the park a couple of times a day.

“We get busy early,” she says. “Especially in the summer when it’s so hot during the day, we have people and their dogs arriving by 4:30 a.m.” Fraser cites one patron who comes all the way from the southwest part of the Las Vegas Valley as well as Jill from Chilly Jillyz and her three large mastiffs as early morning regulars. “From 4:30 until about 8, we are packed. I’m here every morning and then again in the evening.”

Even in the heat of summer, there is substantial activity. See Spot Run got $50,000 in ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds from the city, which starts getting used this week doing repairs to the water system and installing a rinse deck.

Though the city has announced plans for another dog park with grass (the location of the See Spot Run park does not have sufficient electricity for an irrigation system and all of the trees and plants use drip irrigation run by batteries or small solar panels), Fraser is confident there will still be a need for See Spot Run.

“The city did a survey a few years ago. There are a lot of dog lovers in Boulder City and they found that the city could support three or four dog parks.”

When it comes to using a dog park, Fraser offers a piece of unexpected advice. “Many people bring their dogs to dog parks for exercise. But that is not really what a dog park is for. Dog parks are for socialization. You’ll have a better experience if you take your dog out and walk them and get them a little tired before coming to the park to play with other dogs.”

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