Making Friends at the Dog Park

Since opening its doors in 2007, The Hill at Whitemarsh has been a community that welcomes pets. Despite the pet-friendly environment over the past 16 years, it wasn’t until late 2022 that a dog park was added as a permanent fixture to the landscape.

“The dog park was an effort really driven by a group of resident dog owners who wanted a space for their dogs to run off their leashes in a confined area,” said Carl Andresen, landscape manager for The Hill. “They also wanted a dedicated place where they could gather and be sociable with other dog owners.”

Carl, along with Peter Fleming, chief operating officer at The Hill, worked closely with the residents to bring their vision to fruition. Since the residents had spent countless hours wandering the beautiful grounds with their dogs, they had several locations in mind when they first presented the idea.

“I was an early proponent of having a dog run,” said Weezie Johnston, whose 2-year-old Sealyham terrier, Cari is a fan of the new dog park. “It had been considered in the past but never got off the ground. We worked alongside Carl and Peter to find a location and have it built.”

The location that was ultimately chosen for the dog park was an open spot in the woods along the existing walking trail.

“It was an ideal location, and there was overwhelming support among dog-owning residents for the park,” Carl said. “I developed the design for the dog park. The entrance contains a vestibule in which dogs are released from their leash, and a second gate grants them entrance into the larger park.”

Cindy Heckscher, who moved to The Hill in 2022 along with her golden retriever, Missy, said that dog ownership has been a major part of her life at The Hill.

“We take multiple walks each day where we have met new people and made new friends,” said Cindy. “It also provides us with an opportunity to explore the beautiful grounds via multiple trails that we walk every day.”

Carl agrees that a big bonus of the dog park has been providing the residents with dogs a place where they can gather and socialize with each other. “New friendships have been made–both human and canine!” he said.

Susan Feldman moved to The Hill in 2020 with her two dogs–a 7-year-old goldendoodle named Maggie and a 5-year-old Tibetan terrier named Sophie. Dog ownership played a large role in her ability to connect with other residents at the height of the pandemic.

“The only people I met or spoke with were fellow dog owners,” said Susan. “Even now, most of the people with whom I have the most contact are fellow dog owners.”

“While we dog owners represent a relatively small percentage of The Hill’s resident population, even non-dog-owners greet our furry friends by name and with enthusiasm,” adds Cindy. “It’s very much a part of The Hill’s culture!”

“We take multiple walks each day where we have met new people and made new friends.”
– Cindy Heckscher

Alec and Marnie Kerr, who moved to The Hill in the summer of 2022 with their 5-year-old black Labrador retriever named Tash, would agree that dog ownership has been a great way to meet their new neighbors.

“Tash races for the dog park any chance she can when we’re out for a walk,” said the Kerrs. “It’s been a great place for dogs to socialize, which they love, and it’s nice gathering with other dog lovers.”