A $250,000 renovation of Oak Brook's Mayslake Dog Park will include many upgrades, but one DuPage Forest Preserve commissioner says it will be lacking one important piece.
In recent years, dog owners have taken to memorializing their furry friends by hanging their deceased pet's name tags on a tree tucked away on the property. According to Commissioner Joe Cantore, the tree won't be a part of the park when it opens next summer.
"The memorial tree got to be popular but as the renovations moved ahead, it became clear that it wasn't going to work anymore," Cantore said. "We need to come up with something that had the same idea and could be more sustainable."
Cantore announced Tuesday that he and his wife, Jaclyn, will donate an undetermined amount of money to not only replace the Mayslake tree with a yet to be designed "natural and organic" memorial, but to install one in each of the district's six dog parks.
"As a dog owner, I understand how an animal can become a member of a family. We have thousands of district dog park permit holders who come to our parks routinely to connect with their dog," Cantore said. "When that pet passes, it can be an emotional time for the owner. I believe a more organic memorial program at our dog parks will help them not only remember their pet, but remember their pet at a place that held so much enjoyment for both the dog and owner."
Cantore said he will work with district staff to design a memorial and have the first one installed at Mayslake by the spring. The other five parks, he said, would have a memorial within a year.
"I take my dog to Mayslake all the time but I didn't know about the memorial until a little before the renovations began," he said. "It just seemed like a nice, tasteful, understated thing to do. I want to keep that same spirit but do it in all the parks."
District President D. "Dewey" Pierotti, Jr. said he had never considered such a memorial because the district also allows residents to purchase brick pavers at Mayslake, some of which memorialize pets.
"People were already doing it so it makes sense to give them the chance to do it at each of the parks," Pierotti said. "And he's generously agreed to donate the new memorials, so who's going to say no to that?"