On Monday, November 13 at 3:30 p.m., in a special dedication ceremony at the park on the Lakes Campus, we will unveil a new dog park honoring the memory of a much loved resident dog. This dog park is named for Balti, a beautiful Siberian Husky, who was owned by Willow Valley residents Red and Lonnie Stein and became a symbol of the love all Willow Valley Communities’ residents have for their pets.
Balti was named after Balto, the famous Siberian Husky sled dog who in 1925 led his team transporting diphtheria serum to children in Nome, Alaska through hazardous winter conditions. Alaska’s annual Iditarod Race is run each year to commemorate this heroic journey.
Through her many walks on campus everyone got to know and love Balti with her friendly personality, her luxurious white and gray coat, and her stunning clear blue eyes. Balti lived at Willow Valley Communities for 10 years and passed away at the age of 15 in 2015.
Willow Valley Communities has always been supportive of pet ownership and there are some 100 dogs living at the communities – a population that has grown steadily over the years. Residents are permitted to own up to three dogs at Willow Valley. (There are some weight and breed restrictions.) This is Willow Valley’s second dog park. The first one, located on the Manor Campus opened in 2015.
There are many benefits to owning a dog. Dog owners are much more likely to hit the goal of 2 hours and 30 minutes worth of moderate exercise per week recommended by health experts. And those daily dog walks will help you maintain a healthy weight, since they are a source of moderate physical activity for 10, 20, and even 30 minutes at a time. This leads to lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, and decreased triglyceride levels, which contribute to better overall cardiovascular health and fewer heart attacks. Researchers have also found that spending just a few minutes with a pet can lower anxiety and blood pressure, and increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, two neurochemicals that play big roles in maintaining feelings of calm and wellbeing. People performing stressful tasks do better when there’s a dog around, too, and studies show dogs ease tension both at the office and between married couples.
Owning a dog also gives us emotional benefits by giving some meaning and purpose to our lives. If you are depressed or lonely, you still have to go out and walk the dog. Plus dog owners love to talk to other dog owners during those walks and it has been found that dog owners have more social interactions.
Willow Valley Communities residents, as well as their dogs are invited to the dedication ceremony of the Balti Dog Park. After a brief presentation by Willow Valley Communities Chief Marketing Officer, Brian T. Rutter, he and Red Stein will unveil the commemorative memorial sign honoring Balti and the resident dogs will be welcomed into the park to play.