In 2012, a handful of incidents around Red Lodge prompted an enforcement of the city’s leash law. Two dozen interested parties showed up at a meeting that spring at city hall to look at several potential sites for a dog park within city limits, and to discuss appropriate rules and regulations for using such a park. Ideal features for a park site included water, shade, parking, and sufficient size for dogs to run and socialize. In consultation with the Parks Board, the acreage off of Highway 78 west of the Rodeo Road (between irrigation ditches) was chosen. Parking was already available at the trail head to the Rocky Fork Trail there, and the site was big enough for dogs to get a good romp in.
Private funds covered approximately $2,000 for the costs of “goat-fencing” and posts, and the City of Red Lodge provided some of the materials as well. Judy Streets set up a contact website. Linda Ladvala and others researched regulations used at Billings and other dog parks. The group soon met again to make top choices and regulations to recommend the Red Lodge Parks Board. Tom Kohley, Parks Board Chairman, arranged for the Montana Conservation Corps, assisted by several local volunteers, to set up the fencing around the almost-four-acre site. Signage, a picnic bench, and a seating bench were also installed. The frolicking began!
Dogs can be quite similar to children in the sense that if they’re not given something to do, they will find something to do, and it isn’t usually something you’ll appreciate. Those who don’t get enough exercise tend to become unhealthy and destructive. Most healthy, active dogs require a minimum of 300 minutes per week of on-leash walking. However, that same level of exercise that keeps your dog healthy and active can be accomplished in just one third of that time with adequate space for off-leash play. The dog park has been a great success and well-used. We’re quite proud of Red Lodge’s fantastic volunteers for making this happen. It was a much-needed amenity.
Our cover photo was taken at the Grand Opening of the Double Ditch Dog Park on November 11, 2012. In attendance were thirty two ecstatic dogs and their owners running around together in celebration.
Looking for more information about activities with your dog? See “Dogs, Trails, and Traps,” which appeared on page 6 of this issue.