When Portage resident Eileen Hyatt noticed that few people were aware of the Portage Dog Park, which is located at Woodland Park, she decided to take action. Hyatt, who is this week’s Portage Life That Matters, started a Facebook page along with Scott Sanders and Ashley Madsen in order to draw attention to the Portage Dog Park and communicate with other dog owners who utilize the park.
“Facebook is a great way of reaching out to the community and a lot of people found out about the dog park that way,” Hyatt said. “We like to keep things updated, like if there’s a dog fight, or if we want to do an event or even any events within Porter County we post on the page.”
The Portage Dog Park Facebook Page has not organized any events yet, but Hyatt said that she plans to start hosting gatherings next year. She used this year to start raising awareness and building up the following of the dog park.
Hyatt is thinking about having an event in November where people could bring their dogs to get photos taken. The Portage Dog Park Facebook Page had a booth at a Kibble Kitchen event in September.
“I’ve been going to the park for about a year since they opened,” Hyatt said. “I found out about it just by driving by. I’m from California and we went to the dog park a lot out there. It’s a great way to socialize not only as humans, but with the dogs. My dog, Beretta, used to be very skittish and taking her to the dog park has socialized her with other animals and people a lot more.”
Beretta is a Doberman Pincher, while Hyatt also owns a Chihuahua-Terrier mix named Bandit. Hyatt, who also has two cats, described herself as an “animal lover.”
One of Hyatt’s other loves is for photography, which she has been doing as a hobby since she was a 16 year old high school student. She was the president of the photography club in high school, continued to take photos in college and opened her own photography business two years ago.
Hyatt Photography focuses on portraits, mostly of newborns and children. It also does high school senior pictures and family photos.
Hyatt uses her photography as an outlet to give back to military families. She works with the organizations Photos for Soldiers and Operation Attachment. Through Photos for Soldiers, she offers free services to any active military member that is deployed to serve our country. Operation Attachment works mainly with newborn families. If the father is overseas and cannot be there for childbirth, Hyatt provides free birthing sessions so that the family will have photos for the father to see.
“A lot of people in my family were military members,” she said. “My grandfather was a marine; pretty much every man in my family has served in one way or another. Currently my brother is over in Afghanistan. I just love America and that’s just how I grew up - you provide for your family and you support your country. It’s just my way of giving back and saying thank you.”
Hyatt has only lived in Portage for about a year and a half after moving from Covina, Calif., but she already feels at home.
“There are large communities in California and I like that Portage is small and everybody knows everybody,” she said. “They’re so friendly out here; I just couldn’t believe that. They’re willing to help out other people even if they don’t know you; it’s definitely a huge change.”