Where dogs bark in their very own park
Photos by Susan Traylor Lykes
Sophie’s Place might sound like the latest boutique, but don’t be fooled; it’s actually Jackson’s first-ever dog park. Stop by any day of the week and you’ll see dogs of all breeds, sizes, and ages, including what locals refer to as “Muttigrees”—pets that have no discernible pedigree except being loved by their owners.
Launched in August 2010 by PAWS of Jackson Hole, the park is dedicated to the life and spirit of Kristen Ardinger Karn and her dog, Sophie. Both perished in a car accident just one week before the park was scheduled to open. Karn was an avid animal lover and built her life in Jackson around dogs. Not only was her pet-sitting business based on caring for them, but also she volunteered her time at PAWS and other animal shelters.
The dog park is the culmination of ten years of efforts by PAWS. Like most facilities of this type around the country, it offers off-leash space where four-legged friends can play and socialize, off public trails and away from wildlife. Its in-town location (at 250 Scott Lane) gives Jackson residents a convenient place to take their dogs before and after work for much needed exercise. Plus, the park gives people the opportunity to meet and mingle with like-minded dog enthusiasts.
“PAWS has always known what many communities across the United States have acknowledged; that dog parks are vital community facilities that promote responsible dog ownership,” says Larry Hamilton, PAWS board president.
Strict guidelines keep the park’s potentially chaotic atmosphere in check. Owners must leash their dogs when entering and exiting the park, and clean up after their pets while inside. All dogs must be licensed and have current rabies vaccinations. Female dogs in heat are not allowed onto the premises.
Sophie’s Place is free to the public and is 100 percent funded by private donors, grants, and business sponsorships. Park hours are from 7 a.m. To 9 p.m. in the summer, and from 8 a.m ’til dusk in the winter.
—Amy Romaine is the Executive
Director of PAWS of Jackson Hole.