The off-leash dog park at Nelson Memorial Park in Tatamagouche has been renamed the Janet Cole Memorial Dog Park, to honour the late Janet Cole. She was instrumental in getting the park to fruition, and her family attended a special renaming ceremony. From left, Braycen Cole, Bryanna Cole, Hayden Dowding, Bailey Dowding, Wendell Cole, Shelagh Cole, Terry Cole, Cora Lee Dowding, and Sandy Cole. Raissa Tetanish photo

Bailey Dowding kept her head down while reading from her paper.

When she was done, she went to her grandfather who wrapped his arm around her.

The 15-year-old had just spoken to a crowd gathered at what is now known as the Janet Cole Memorial Dog Park, named after Bailey’s late grandmother.

“This means a lot. It means everything,” said Wendell Cole, Janet’s husband and Bailey’s grandfather. “She loved dogs.”

“She always said she’d have a million of them, but Papa wouldn’t let her,” laughed Bailey.

For two years, Janet was adamant about having a safe place for dog owners to walk their beloved pets. She and her dog, Roxie, were out for a walk one day when a family approached asking if their toddler could pet Roxie. When the toddler started hitting Roxie on the head instead of petting her, and the parents did nothing, Janet knew a space was needed.

She made countless phone calls and sent numerous emails to those who might get the job done – Colchester County’s manager of recreation services Craig Burgess, and Mike Gregory, the area councilor.

Janet passed away on Feb. 21, after a battle with cancer.

During the renaming ceremony, Burgess said the dog park was Janet’s dream.

“It was something she was passionate about and she worked hard to accomplish it,” he said. “Janet ended up sending me some emails and without her dream and direction, this park wouldn’t have happened.”

The park opened two years ago, where the Elaine Tucker Memorial Ball Field used to be at the entrance of Nelson Memorial Park. It features a fenced in park for dogs to be off-leash.

Gregory told the crowd gathered – including Janet’s former coworkers at the Lillian Fraser Memorial Hospital – it was just days after he was elected in 2012 when Janet first called him.

“About a year later, she apologized for bugging me so much,” he said.

Prior to the dog park being constructed, the space saw an old building on the land. It’s gone now, however Gregory said many people showed up inside that building for the first meeting about the dog park.

“This is a fine contribution to the community, and tribute to Janet. Janet is please, I’m sure,” he said.

The hospital planted a maple tree just outside the fencing in Janet’s honour, and Burgess said more trees will soon be planted. The county also has plans to construct a shelter in the fall.

“The project is not done, and we will continue to improve it,” he said.

Barbie Cook, site manager at the hospital, said Janet spent 17 years at the facility.

“We all knew how much this park meant to Janet, and it brings great joy to us to see it come to life,” she said. “This will carry on her memory for years to come.”

As a thank you to the community and those who supported Janet and her dream of having a dog park, Wendell Cole and the family are hosting a memories barbecue on Aug. 19 at 1195 Rocklyn Road. People can pop by anytime in the afternoon or evening, and are welcome to bring anything special they’d like to have barbecued, however the usual barbecue food will be available.