About Friendship Gardens
Dr. Linda Thornton is the owner and founder of this amazing dog park. She is a retired Lieutenant Colonel who served for 20 years in the US Army Dental Corps. Upon retirement from the military, she achieved the academic position of Associate Professor of Prosthodontics (complete mouth rehabilitation/implantology).
Dr. Thornton is a member of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP). She is a disabled veteran who trained her golden retriever, Samantha, to work with her as a service (therapy) dog. Samantha was known to all as the "happy dog." For almost 13 years, Dr. Thornton and Samantha worked together as loyal companions and best friends.
Presently, Dr. Thornton is training her second golden retriever, Siena, to function as her service (mobility) dog. While residing in the rural farm community of Lumberton, NJ, Dr. Thornton began to develop her idea for a service dog park. Her concept evolved through years of mishaps while walking her service dogs in regular dog parks. Friendship Gardens was originally created for people with disabilities, and service dog trainers who want to bond with their canine companions in a safe, private, and tranquil environment. Friendship Gardens has now expanded our clientele to include dog owners and their canine family friends; Everyone is welcome to participate in our obedience and agility training classes.
A New Jersey First
Friendship Gardens is the first privately-owned exercise area in the state of New Jersey designed exclusively for service/working dogs. Service/dogs are used to assist their human companions with sight, seizure alerts, post-traumatic stress disorders, and so much more. Since the First World War, service dogs have demonstrated that they can improve the quality of life for people with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. While working dogs also function as family pets, trusted confidants, and livelong friends, they are much more than that. To the disabled, they represent freedom, a means of independence, and a chance to become self-reliant. These hard-working animals need safe places where they can take some time off to run, play, and frolic, just like any other dog.
Friendship Gardens is just that place. Located in the tranquil farming regions of New Jersey's Burlington County, this exercise facility is a well-deserved treat for your working dog or family canine friend. Friendship Gardens recognizes your need for safety. You and your dog will finally be able to play, or just hang out with each other in your own private playground, free of unexpected visitors and unexpected events. If your dog has a playmate, you can invite them as your guest for an enhanced social experience. Either way, when you visit Friendship Gardens, both you and your dog can enjoy your playtime together in a controlled, peaceful environment without the fear of being harmed.