Bark if you like dog parksWhen Grand Forks’ first dog park opened in 2007, the idea was mocked, ridiculed and dismissed as pure folly. Silly. Stupid. A waste of money. Will there be slides, swings and a merry-go-round for the pooches?
By: Ryan Bakken, Grand Forks Herald
When Grand Forks’ first dog park opened in 2007, the idea was mocked, ridiculed and dismissed as pure folly.
Silly. Stupid. A waste of money. Will there be slides, swings and a merry-go-round for the pooches?
Look who’s laughing now. Dog parks are the greatest thing since sliced bread. They’re as fashionable as Twitter, Lady Gaga and wearing lingerie on the outside of your clothing. Of those four fads, dog parks make the most sense, although I’m a fan of the lingerie thingy, too, especially when it’s Ms. Gaga’s.
Fargo has three dog parks. Grand Forks will soon match that number. Crookston is raising money for its first.
The cynics are no longer barking.
Neither are the dogs.
When the dog park was being debated, Lincoln Drive Park neighbors feared that their peace would be disrupted by incessant barking. Didn’t happen.
Another fear was vicious, anti-social dogs drawing blood. Mostly didn’t happen.
“I’ve heard of a couple cases of dogs biting other dogs, but I haven’t heard of a single bite of a person,” said Steve Mullally, Grand Forks superintendent of parks.
The big beef three years ago was the use of tax money to entertain animals. In Grand Forks, the city and the park district kicked in $20,000 each and another $10,000 was raised by the Roaming Paws group of dog lovers.
But if you compute the number of residents and pets who enjoy the park, you’ll find the city’s second-best return for investment, behind only the dikes.
“Dog parks are very valuable because there are few places where dogs can get that kind of exercise off-leash,” said Arlette Moen, director of the Circle of Friends Humane Society that has its own park on the north edge of Grand Forks.
“It’s important for the bond between owner and pet. And it’s important for the socialization that dogs need with each other.”
Mullally said Park District officials initially were cool to the idea. But then they heard from Fargo officials that their dog park was among their more popular facilities.
Historically, park districts provide parks for relaxation and recreation for youngsters. But not everybody has children. For some, pets are their children.
“People love their dogs,” Mullally said. “It seems more people are buying animals and a lot of them have more than one dog on a leash for the evening walks.”
The second dog park partnership between the city and park district will be located across the street from the original, in Lincoln Drive Park. Reserved for smaller dogs, it will cost $13,000, mostly for fencing. Crookston has a private fundraising drive named Bark for the Park with a goal also of $13,000 for fencing in Castle Park.
“We’ve received a lot of verbal support,” Crookston’s Gina Carolan said. “Getting the money is the tough part.”
Scott Kleven, Crookston’s park-and-rec director, said dog park popularity has continued to grow since the phenomenon started in the 1980s.
“It’s a proven product,” he said. “There’s a lot of socialization, not only among the dogs, but also the dog owners.”
Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.