Dog park is a legacy of loyalty

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Mon., Oct. 14, 2013
Mitchell Phaiah at home with his constant companion, Bailey. Photo by D. Coffey.
Mitchell Phaiah at home with his constant companion, Bailey. Photo by D. Coffey.

The Mitchell D. Phaiah Dog Park in Killingly sits at the tail end of Quinebaug Drive, in Killingly. The River Trail runs along one side of it and the Quinebaug River runs along the other side. A chain link fence encloses two huge pens. One is for small dogs weighing less than 25 pounds. The other is for large dogs. The pens are covered in wood chips and outfitted with stone benches and fire hydrant props. For non-aggressive dogs who like to socialize, it’s a little bit of heaven.

The park has drawn a steady stream of dogs and their owners since it opened in September. The park’s namesake has yet to visit. He lives close by, but pancreatic cancer has kept him close to home. His prognosis is not good. While other dogs enjoy the freedom of running without leashes, Phaiah’s stays by his side, a constant companion.

Bailey, a 7-year-old standard poodle, is like no other dog Phaiah’s owned, and he’s owned plenty. Phaiah believes if it wasn’t for Bailey, he’d already be gone. The dog kept laying its head on his stomach until he went to the doctors and they found cancer. Now he’s working at crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s of a life that’s been good to him.

“Dammit, I can’t complain,” he said. “I feel pretty good.” 

Now that the dog park is complete, he’s working on other goals. He’s already paved the road in Westfield Cemetery. He’s donated land to Habitat for Humanity. He’s taken care of painting and masonry jobs at St. Albans. He’s mulling other projects.

“I have so much to do,” he said. Unfortunately, he gets tired easily. And cold. He wears black gloves even in the house to keep his hands warm. And when he goes to take a nap, Bailey accompanies him. For Bailey, the dog park will have to wait.

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