Iowa Hunting Dog Group Vying for $25,000 Grant
Brady Smith, Anchor/Reporter
JOHNSON COUNTY, Iowa - The Eastern Iowa Hunting Retriever Association is hoping to revitalize an area just outside North Liberty for dog training, and for the public to enjoy. Gary Reid, who heads up the EIHRA, says a $25,000 grant from SportDOG, a company that specializes in products for hunting dogs, would speed up the project significantly. He's counting on people to vote for his group.
"It's not just for labradors and retrievers, it's for all dogs," said Reid on Sunday.
Reid has been working with the Iowa DNR for several months now, trying to turn this land into an easily-accessible dog training ground. But he also wants it to be a place where anyone can come out and enjoy wildlife. The area was filled with silt and overgrown after years of flooding, and landscaping the area is a big part of the project.
"It's going to be great for bird lovers to come out and watch different birds," Reid told us.
EIHRA is one of six finalist groups in the running for the first-prize $25,000 grant, or the $5,000 second-place grant. Reid said the other groups are from Wyoming, Montana, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.
If the EIHRA wins, Reid plans to put that money toward laying down a rubber barrier to maintain a pond for dogs to swim and train in. He also hopes to eventually build a small pavilion.
For dog trainers like Diane Eastman, it will be nice to finally have a training area in eastern Iowa for anyone to use.
"It's going to be wonderful to have a place like this," Eastman said. "It's really hard to find places where you can work with the water and everything."
Eastman works with her dogs Addie and Kane 4 to 5 days a week, and brings them to competitions all around the Midwest about twice a month. Addie has a few titles under her collar, and is training for more.
"Right now, we're working really hard on some obedience titles," Eastman told us.
With enough votes, she said the Hawkeye Wildlife Area will be a perfect destination for all of that hard work.
"It's a great way to bond with your dog. Training with them and learning how to interact with them is a super way to bond with your dog, no matter what you want to get into for a sport," Eastman said.
If you want to vote for the EIHRA, you can search for SportDOG on Facebook, or head to http://contests.sportdog.com/fff/ to vote directly on their website. Voting ends on November 15th, and Reid hopes to know the results of the vote by November 17th.
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