The first time sculptor Douglas Eageny heard St. Charles Park Foundation treasurer, Vanessa Bell-LaSota, speak about a proposed pet memorial fundraiser, he immediately shared her passion for the project.
Like Bell-LaSota and Foundation president, Julie Miller-Longo, who had lost treasured pets, Eageny also had a special place in his heart for a dog who meant so much to him and his family, a labrador retriever named Molly.
Molly became Eageny’s model for the larger-than-life-sized steel sculpture that is contoured with steel loops of various sizes along the dog’s body upon which pet tags can be attached.
Anyone who has ever experienced the loss of a pet knows the pervasive sense of grief that never fully goes away. While treasured pets may leave a hole in our hearts, they no longer have to leave a hole in our lives. The St. Charles Dog Memorial is a way for pet lovers to honor those animals who have brought them so much joy.
The public is invited to attend the dedication ceremony for “Timeless Tags” at Delnor Woods Park on Saturday, August 18, from 10am-12pm. Bring a tag memorializing a beloved pet to place on the sculpture and help this unique work of public art grow into a destination for healing and celebrating the role pets play in our lives. The first 100 guests will receive a dog ball and throw toy.
“I thought the memorial was a unique idea,” said Eageny. “Families become attached to their companion animals and the memorial will give them something to visit and interact with.”
A self-taught artist with more than 10 years’ experience, Eageny’s work has been showcased at least six times at the St. Charles Park Foundation’s annual “Sculpture in the Park” exhibit at Mt. St. Mary Park, and several of his sculptures grace private collections.
“My inspiration to create sculpture arises organically through my use of natural materials,” said Eageny. “I want to repurpose the beauty found in nature. No two pieces of my artwork are alike, just as it is in nature.”
In keeping with Eageny’s philosophy and to best honor the indelible impact companion animals have on one’s life, the natural environment of Delnor Woods Park was selected by the St. Charles Park Foundation as the site for “Timeless Tags.” Located on Route 25 just north of Main Street, Delnor Woods Park abounds with century-old trees plus native plantings. Paved pathways and a dam with a small waterfall add to the park’s attractions.
“I like the thought of families who perhaps once walked their dog in this park visiting the sculpture as a way of reconnecting to those memories,” said Eageny.
As the centerpiece of a dedicated, landscaped plaza, the “Timeless Tags” sculpture will stand upon a concrete pedestal, which can hold nearly 100 durable bronze plaques of various sizes, making it an ideal way for veterinarians, groomers, trainers, animal shelters, pet stores, pet sitters and, of course, pet lovers, both past and present, to show their support for this engaging tribute to the beloved family pet.
A resident of St. Charles for more than 40 years and a graduate of St. Charles East High School, Eageny is married with one daughter.
“St. Charles is my home and I am honored to be able to be part of this project that I hope will bring comfort to those who have been lucky enough to share their lives with a special pet,” said Eageny.
Sponsorship levels cleverly reflect the dog memorial’s theme. One can contribute at the “Grand Champion” level by purchasing a 20”x16” plaque for $5,000, or at the “Top Dog” level by purchasing a 20”x8” plaque at $2,500. Sponsorship opportunities are also available at the “Fur-lanthropist” level at $2,000 for a 12”x12” plaque; a “Pick of the Litter” level contribution of $1,000 secures a 10”x10” plaque; or $300 “Bark-e-Factor” contribution purchases a 7”x4” plaque.
More information on the “Timeless Tag” sponsorship and donation opportunities benefitting the St. Charles Park Foundation can be found on its web site at www.stcparkfoundation.org.
In the words of Roger Caras, “Dogs are not our whole life; but they make our lives whole.”