Jeff Barnes, a voluneer with the Bryan County Bark Park, talks about his work with the pet play area:
Q: Name and current job title?
A: I am Jeff Barnes but go by “JB.” I retired from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources as an environmental protection agent about four years ago.
Q: What kind of dog do you have?
A: Copper is a Plott hound, the state dog of North Carolina. He is a breed that was started in the Appalachian Mountains in 1750. We rescued him in summer of ’14 after our old pitbull, Annie, another rescue, died of cancer. Annie could not be trusted not to fight with other dogs, and no matter what we did, we couldn’t socialize her. So we were determined to get for our next dog one that would accept other dogs. Plotts were bred to hunt bears in packs, so it seemed he would likely accept other dogs.
Q: When did you first learn of the Bryan County Bark Park?
A: Wendy and Mark (Bolton) opened the Bark Park just a month after we got Copper, so we have been going there to play with other dogs almost every single morning — and sometimes in afternoons — since then.
Q: What do you feel the Bark Park adds to the community and county?
A: It is a great place to keep your dogs socialized, exercised and happy. The human socialization and camaraderie among the dog owners is terrific. Dog people are good people! I get as much enjoyment from going to the park as Copper does, so I try to help out around the park as a small way to give back to the community.
Q: What roles do you play as far as volunteer work is concerned?
A: I contribute to the 501(c)(3), but in addition, contribute time and effort since nothing means more than a “service contribution.” Ten years with the local Red Cross team taught me that.
Q: What do you hope to see for the future of the Bark Park?
A: The Bark Park has been a tremendous asset to the county and its citizens. It even draws folks from Chatham and Liberty to use the park as well as numerous folks who are traveling through the Hill and just want their four-legged companions a chance to stretch their legs. It really helps showcase to people what a great community we have. Who knows? Maybe some of the visitors will buy homes here. I know a couple dog owners currently looking to settle here. In the future, I hope the County will get more involved, provide some materials and perhaps even build a small playground for the kids between the ballfield and the dog park so the parents with small kids can watch the dogs and kids at the same time. We don’t have grandkids, so Copper is like our grandson in a way. We just love to see him play with his dog pals, Harley, Dixie, Ernie, DJ, Sherman, Koda and Dilly. It’s relaxing.