Ron Hardy, Cannon Norton and Eagle Scout Alex Hardy set a fence post. Photo: Ed Johnson, KP News

Every dog will soon have its day on the Key Peninsula thanks to a young Boy Scout.

A fully fenced off-leash area designed for dogs up to 35 pounds has been completed at Gateway Park. The project was headed up by Peninsula High School freshman Alex Hardy as he works to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout in Boy Scout Troop 251.

While a large dog park is also in development at Gateway, Alex’s small dog park will allow more petite breeds the freedom to play and explore off-leash without the fear of attacks from larger canines.

An owner of a small dog himself, Alex witnessed an attack from a larger dog while using an off-leash area in Gig Harbor several years ago. When Alex spoke to Scott Gallacher, the executive director of Key Pen Parks, about potential projects for his Eagle Scout badge, building a park for small dogs seemed perfect.

“We had planned in the 2019 budget to have a dog park. A dog park was identified as part of the Gateway Park Master Plan that was adopted in 2015. Key Pen Parks’ intentions were to have a small dog area and large dog area by the trailhead to 360 Trails,” Gallacher said.

While the park is designed for small dogs — the fenced area measures 100 by 140 feet — it’s not particularly small. “That is a very big small dog park,” Alex said.

Work began in September. Undertaking such an intensive project within weeks of becoming a high school student was a lot to take on, he said.

Alex and volunteer assistants installed 40 to 50 posts as well as 400 feet of wire fabric. Key Pen Parks purchased the fence posts and wire fabric for the project.

While the teen began with a borrowed tractor and auger to dig the holes, he soon found it was getting stuck a few inches down and wound up doing much of the digging by hand.

“There was tons of rocks. We hit hard clay,” he said.

Over the course of several work days in September, many people showed up to help out. This included friends, family and members of the Key Peninsula Church of Latter-Day Saints, where Alex and his family are members.

Local businesses, including Burger King, Albertsons and the KP Food Market donated food for the project volunteers. Home Depot gave $50 toward materials.

Matt Woodward, maintenance supervisor for Key Pen Parks, shared his expertise. “Matt showed Alex how park staff did the fence around the house and barns at the park as an example of what we wanted to do,” Gallacher said.

As a high school freshman, Alex is young to be working toward the Eagle Scout rank. But he was eager to earn the prestigious rank before the end of the year when the LDS church is ending its sponsorship of BSA. The church has been a sponsor of BSA for over a century, allowing scouts to meet in LDS facilities and encouraging all LDS boys to join, but about 18 months ago the church announced it would be cutting ties with BSA in order to better serve its worldwide congregation and create its own global youth program for boys and girls.

Cannon Norton is proud of his friend’s hard work. “Alex had a great vision for an amazing dog park that is much needed in this area. Alex is hardworking, persistent, and always looking to do good for those around him. This Eagle project was no easy task, but he was willing to take it on. I’m impressed with the format of the park and the planning behind it. Those countless hours will benefit the community.”

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