Thursday, August 5, 2021

Flying high

Eagle Scout builds new canine agility course in township park

Boy Scout Jonathon Barringer and his dog, Rebel, enjoy
the Dog Agility Course he designed and built at Marv Gans
Community Park as his Eagle Scout project.
Northville Township teen Jonathon Barringer's Eagle Scout project went to the dogs.

Barringer organized, raised funds, recruited assistance and built a six-obstacle agility course at the Northville Township Dog Park at Marv Gans Community Park that allows both dogs and their “best friends” exercise while bonding. 

Barringer, a University of Detroit Jesuit High School student in Boy Scout Troop 755, hosted a grand opening of the course last week. He recruited dog trainer Elly Price to teach mini-agility dog training classes to introduce canines and the owners to the equipment and to learn some basic commands. 

Agility is a growing dog sport in the United States. The American Kennel Club (AKC) reports more than one million entries to the AKC Agility program each year. 

The Dog Agility Course includes 
multiple training obstacles
including hoops, ramps, a tunnel 
and weaving poles.
With the help of the owner, a dog races against the clock while navigating an obstacle course by using cues and body language of the owner for direction and guidance.

All breeds and all sizes can partake in agility. 

“I got the idea for this as my Eagle Project after I took my dog to an agility course that was far away,” said Barringer, 17. He wanted something closer to work with Rebel, his Golden Retriever.

This course is housed in the back of the large dogs' section of Marv Gans Community Park, where there was space to accommodate the layout. 

The obstacles include: a pause table, where a pooch waits to start and finish a course; a hoop, in two sizes, for both small and bigger dogs to jump through; a dog walk (ramp) used to teach a dog to refrain from jumping off early; two bar jumps, made out of PVC pipe, each has four different heights; weave poles, six flexible poles to weave through and a tunnel, a one-way obstacle a dog must go all the way through.

Barringer designed the course focusing on quality and longevity. It cost $5,000 to build.

To raise money for the construction of the obstacle course, Barringer collected and cashed in refundable bottles, picked up dog waste for donating customers, started a GoFundMe campaign and secured $2,500 in business sponsorships.

“Jonathon worked very hard and did a great job on the agility course,” said Northville Parks and Recreation Director Mark Gasche. “We expect it will be a popular addition to our dog park, as we have observed many of the members already working with their dogs on the course.”

An Eagle Project is a requirement to get the Eagle Scout designation, the highest rank in the Boy Scout program. Only 4 percent of Scouts achieve this rank. During the project, Barringer demonstrated leadership and organizational skills while performing a project for the benefit of their community,  Scouting officials said. 

“I was 16 when I started this project and it took six months to build,” Barringer said. “I'm happy how it turned out.”

The Marv Gans Community Park Dog Park is off Five Mile Road, west of Beck Road. It is open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily. To become a dog park member, visit