Amelia graduate a finalist in dog park contest

Amanda Harrell, an Amelia High School graduate, poses with her dog Zeke, a boxer mix. Amanda is a finalist in the 2011 Beneful Dream Dog Park Contest and could win a $500,000 dog park makeover for her hometown.
An exciting new dog park could be in the future for Clermont County, thanks to a local dog owner (and her pup) who are finalists in Beneful’s 2011 Dream Dog Park Contest.

Amanda Harrell, a 2009 Amelia High School graduate, and her dog Zeke, frequent the dog play area at Spencer Shank Park. And while Harrell said she loves being able to take Zeke to a park to play, the dog park there is in need of renovations.

“There is really not much to it,” Harrell said. “Usually there wasn’t anyone there and I thought ‘they should make over the dog park.’”

It wasn’t long after that Harrell stumbled upon the Beneful Dream Dog Park Contest online, and realized she and Zeke could actually help make the renovations happen.

“It’s a contest to celebrate the relationships owners have with their dogs,” Harrell said.

This special relationship is something Amanda and her husband Josh, share with their dog Zeke, who they rescued as a puppy.

“He is just the best dog ever,” Amanda said. “He is so laid back for a puppy and he is just a lover.”

Amanda said Zeke, a 7-month-old boxer mix, loves to play and learn new tricks. And he inspired her to enter the contest and create a dream dog park that would be the perfect place for both humans and dogs to play.

“I think they should have a pool in the dog park that people and dogs can both swim in,” she said. “And I think there should be an area where big dogs and small dogs can be in case people have big dogs and small dogs.”

Amanda also said she would love to see a dog park that uses solar panels to collect enough energy to light the dog park at night.

Amanda took all of these ideas and put them into words for the contest, and the next thing she knew, she had advanced to the second round.

Next, she had to create a video of her and Zeke that would be put on Beneful’s website. The video showed her and Zeke playing at Spencer Shank’s dog park, and Amanda discussed why it was important to have a great dog park available for dog owners.

“I think if there was an exciting (park), more people would go,” Amanda said. “There are a lot of dogs in the neighborhood, I would just love seeing more people there, being outside and spending more time with their dogs.”

Amanda is one of 15 finalists from across the United States and each of the contestant’s video can be viewed online. The public can vote for their favorite contestant one time per day via the website, and votes account for 10 percent of the contestant’s final score.

The grand prize winner of the contest will win a $500,000 makeover for a dog park in their area as well as $10,000 for themselves and a year’s worth of Beneful dog food for their pup.

“I am so excited,” Amanda said about being a finalist. “It has been fun.”

And even though Amanda and Josh are living in Florida now, where Josh attends school, Amanda said she would definitely want to renovate a dog park in Amelia if she wins.

“I think they deserve it there,” Amanda said. “There are a lot of dogs in that community and when we come home to visit we’ll be able to enjoy it with everybody else.”

Amanda said she would love for the dog park at Spencer Shank Park to be renovated, but if it doesn’t meet the requirements, Beneful will select another dog park in the area.

Voting for the contest ends Sept. 8. After that, a panel of judges will select the grand prize winner based on the contestant’s video, ideas for the park and number of votes received.

“They have a celebration in September if you win,” Amanda said. “And in the spring of 2012 they will unveil the new park.”

Amanda and Zeke’s video can be viewed at