Hodag Paws Park going to the dogs
There’s nothing like watching a dog run happy and free, unfettered by leash or rope. Unfortunately for dogs and their owners living in Rhinelander, there’s no safe place for that to happen. However, a dedicated group of dog lovers are beginning the preliminary plans to change that and create a fenced in dog park.
The idea isn’t a new one. About 10 years ago, Rhinelander resident Tina Werres led a committee to open a dog park. Close to 80 money jugs were placed in area businesses to collect funds to start the project and more than $2,000 was raised. At that time Tina thought Shepard Park would make a good location but the sewer plant still had buildings there that needed to be taken down before the new plant was built.
Unfortunately Tina got busy with other projects. The jugs were collected and the money was placed into city of Rhinelander coffers for safe keeping.
Then about a year ago Ann Wahlers moved to Rhinelander with her Whippet.
“We scouted around to see if there was a placed to run our dog off leash,” Ann said. “There really wasn’t anywhere safely to do it so a small group of us started talking about creating a dog park.”
Ann called Gunder Paulsen, director of Rhinelander’s parks, buildings and grounds, and asked if he knew of any city property that could be used for a dog park. At one time West Side Park was suggested however the group is also looking at other locations such as a plot out by the airport and a piece of land where the old landfill was off Hwy. 8.
“There are some options out there,” said Gunder. “It’s just a matter of deciding which one would fit the needs for this kind of park best.”
And while the small committee is excited about the project, they are moving slow so that they can collect more data and do extensive research.
“We are really in the very preliminary stages of this project and by no means have we settled on any particular piece of property,” said Ann. “We would also like to work with Nicolet students who have to complete a community project to help with this. The more community members we can get to help us the better but we have to have a firm plan in place first.”
Building a dog park is no easy task. Ideally the group would like to have bathrooms available as well as a source of water. And depending on how big the area is, fencing would have to be purchased to enclose the park and that could run into the thousands of dollars.
Ann has been doing research on what makes a good dog park and certain items like a vestibule area, where dogs enter the park, are important and shady areas are also a bonus in addition to parking space. Although the group has created a mission statement, the small committee would also like to have more concrete plans, before anything is brought before the city council.
In addition, the group is also hoping to make the park pleasing not only to canine friends but humans as well.
“Many dog parks are a social place for not only dogs but people too,” said Tina.
While plans are still in the very preliminary stages, the group has settled on a name for the project, Hodag Paw Park, and they hope as the weeks and months progress more people will come on board or make donations so the project can become a reality.
“I think a park like this would be a real asset to the community,” said Ann. “I know there’s a lot of dog owners that would like a place to take their dogs where they can run free.”
For more information about Hodag Paw Park call Ann at 715-499-3002 or Tina at 715-362-3143.