Cloquet resident seeks interest in dog park

Cloquet resident Leann Frestedt is a first-time dog owner, and when Ole, a Mini-Aussie, entered her life, she realized there was one thing missing close to home - a dog park.

Leann and Ole
Leann Frestedt and her Mini-Aussie, Ole, are campaigning for a new dog park in Cloquet and would appreciate any assistance. Wendy Johnson/

Cloquet resident Leann Frestedt is a first-time dog owner, and when Ole, a Mini-Aussie, entered her life, she realized there was one thing missing close to home - a dog park.

"Dogs are very social animals," she said. "You hear people talk about pet socialization, and I never really understood what that meant until I started going to the dog park in Duluth this past winter. I saw my dog interacting with the other dogs and how happy it made him. It provides socialization for dogs as well as for their owners. I compare it to soccer parents or hockey parents. You meet other people through shared recreation."

Frestedt said she would like to assemble other dog lovers in the area who are interested in starting a dog park in Cloquet, and she is planning a meeting for the second week in April to discuss the concept.

"Pets are becoming more important in our lives than ever before," she said. "There are a lot of people out there who want to have a relationship with their dog, and this is a great way to bond and interact with your dog. I'm tired of having to drive all the way to the Duluth Dog Park [in order to have that opportunity], but there's really no other alternative," she said.

She said during her recent visits to Duluth with Ole, she has met people from many different areas - including Cloquet - who feel much the same as she does.


"This [idea for a local dog park] is at the very beginning stages," she admitted, "but the people I've talked to randomly are very interested and there's a lot of enthusiasm. I know the people from Cloquet that I've met at the Duluth Dog Park would like to see it happen because they're tired of driving all the way over there, too."

Frestedt said there's not really a whole lot that goes into a dog park besides a piece of land and a fence. She added that ideally a dog park should be at least a few acres to give the dogs space to actually run and should be centrally located so it is convenient for users and easy to find for dog owners who are passing through town.

"People do travel a lot with their dogs," she said, "and I can see where people who are coming up from Minneapolis would Google 'dog parks,' just like I've done, and maybe they will make Cloquet their stopping point to exercise their dog after the two-hour drive before continuing on north."

Frestedt said she has met several such people at the Duluth Dog Park.

"I met someone there from Michigan and someone from Thunder Bay," she said. "They were headed for Minneapolis, and that was their stopping point."

She explained that while dog parks are typically self-regulating, there's a certain etiquette for people who utilize dog parks, such as having a license for the dog, being current and up to date on shots, and picking up the waste from your own dog.

"The rules are basically determined by the people of the community themselves, who help keep watch over the park," she said.

She suggested it might be a good idea to set a limit on the number of dogs allowed in the park at any given time so it doesn't get too crowded and possibly have a dedicated space for smaller dogs as well.


"People who aren't familiar with dog parks might think there's going to be a lot of noise or a lot of aggression," Frestedt said, "but you don't often see that because the dogs are happy and interacting. I've read that most dogs off leash in a dog park are less aggressive than dogs on a leash."

In fact, she said she can personally attest to the fact that dog parks have a positive impact on pets.

"After we get home from taking Ole to the dog park," she said, "he's less annoying to our three cats and he's a lot calmer. You can see the difference when he's had a chance to get rid of all that energy and exercise with other dogs. He's a different dog - he's happier."

She said she could see where a local dog park could benefit the dogs at the local animal shelter as well, providing a place where volunteers could bring the dogs from time to time for exercise and socialization. She said she has already met with the Friends of Animals group, who were very supportive of the idea.

Frestedt said she visited a dog park in Tomahawk, Wis. - a community much the same size as Cloquet - and reported, "It's beautiful and they have an area for the smaller dogs to play."

"I've read there are over 700 dog parks across the United States," she added, "and considering we only have one in this immediate area, I think we're overdue."

Beyond being an asset for dogs and dog owners, Frestedt added that dog parks are increasingly becoming an in-demand amenity in a community.

"I think a dog park brings a lot to the community, not just to dogs," she said. "I think it's a great amenity in itself. It brings a sense of community, a sense of comradery. If I was on the fence about moving to a community in the area, I might just pick Cloquet if they had a beautiful, amazing dog park. People really do look for dog parks. It truly is an amenity - it's not just about the dogs."


Though Frestedt stressed that the idea of a dog park in Cloquet is still just a concept, she said she is ready to move forward with it if she is able to organize a group of people who are interested in it.

"I need their support and I need their excitement, which would enable me to go and meet with the city council and others to talk more about it," she said.

Anyone interested in having a dog park in Cloquet is asked to e-mail Frestedt at .

"I know there will be resistance from some people," she acknowledged. "There are always going to be people who shake their heads 'no' ­- you're going to find that everywhere. But I'm looking for the people who nod their heads 'yes' and say, 'Let's do this!'"

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