UnleashedRather than the traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony, Red Wing Dog Park Association will cut a leash Sunday when dedicating the latest addition to A.P. Anderson Park.
By: Anne Jacobson, The Republican Eagle
Rather than the traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony, Red Wing Dog Park Association will cut a leash Sunday when dedicating the latest addition to A.P. Anderson Park.
The dog park offers the city's residents their first off-leash site for socializing and exercising pets in a safe environment. The project took nearly three years, association vice president Muff Allen said, but seeing pet owners' early responses to the three-quarter acre site makes all the work worthwhile.
"The best part for me is seeing what happens when you're there," Allen said. "There are a lot of people who go almost daily. They not only have gotten to know each other, they know the dogs by name. It's sort of a community bonding experience."
Sunday's festivities will celebrate that and more.
The event will get under way at 1 p.m. After a brief ceremony, local law enforcement will give a K9 demonstration. At 1:45 p.m. people can learn a few pet first aid basics. The afternoon will include obedience training at 2 p.m. and perhaps an agility demonstration.
A pet portrait artist will be on hand. Committee members also will provide refreshments and give away a few items.
The dog park sits east of the playground equipment and measures roughly 100 yards by 200 yards. There are a couple of gates and a holding area, where people can unleash their dogs before letting them into the larger fenced-in area.
The seemingly simple structure was a complex undertaking, according to Allen and association president Bob Cook. They encountered obstacles at every step -- finding a location, establishing rules, gaining city approval, raising funds and finally beating winter to the punch with a late-autumn installation.
Some residents asked the City Council in 2000 to establish a park, but that project died. Allen said a core committee of determined individuals wasn't going to let that happen this time.
A citywide petition set the tone. Volunteers grew in number and, Cook said, city officials named community service office Tim Bohmbach their liaison.
Three garage sales and numerous gifts raised approximately $4,000, Allen said. Goodhue County Sentence to Service crews erected the fence last November, and residents started using the park immediately although didn't officially open until this spring.
"People wanted it enough that they persevered," Allen said. "With the economy the way it is, everybody's pulling together because we know we need each other."
Fundraising will continue through fees and special events. Using an honor system, people fill out an envelope at the park and buy a $10 annual license or a $5 day pass. The money goes toward maintenance and maybe expansion someday, Allen said.
"That's my dream," Allen said.
In the meantime, dogs large and small are using the park with their owners. Some people have established regular playdates, Cook noted. For him, seeing that socialization - for both people and pets - is everything he'd hoped for at Red Wing Dog Park.
"Even if you don't have a dog, go out and watch," Cook said. "You see 12 dogs chasing each other. It's hilarious."