Oconto Falls Dog Park is a hit

Canines, owners flock to new facility
Warren Bluhm
Oconto County Times Herald Editor

The opening of the Oconto Falls Dog Park was everything Emily Gonnering said it could be over the past 15 months.

Gonnering cut the ribbon and several dozen dogs and their owners checked out the facilities Saturday, Aug. 19, in a green space along North Maple Avenue where, decades ago, wood pulp was piled high awaiting processing at the mill nearby.

“I’m sure many of you can attest to the fact that our dogs are members of our families,” Gonnering said. “There’s a whole bunch of parks for people out there, but this is the first one for our furry family. They like to play, too.”

(See link to video below)

Construction of the park was Gonnering’s Girl Scout Gold Award project, which is given for efforts to meet a community need. During a short speech before cutting the ribbon, she said her sense that Oconto Falls needed a dog park was confirmed by all of the support she received while raising $25,000 for the effort.

When Gonnering gave her final report to the Oconto Falls City Council on Aug. 13, City Administrator Vicki Roberts said people were really looking forward to having the dog park.

“There are people who have never licensed a dog in the city before that, last week I was working the front counter and I was licensing dogs so they could utilize the dog park,” Roberts said. “People are really fired up.”

The park will be open from 7 a.m. to dusk between April 1 and Nov. 1. In addition to wearing current dog license tags, dog owners need to know they use the park at their own risk, their dogs must be leashed when entering and exiting, and they must clean up after their animals — bag dispensers are available near the entrances.

Gonnering thanked the many individuals and organizations who contributed to make the park a reality, finishing with a salute to her parents and brother, whom she described as “my main support and motivation.

Her mother, Sue Gonnering, is a special person, Emily said.

“She’s been my leader throughout my whole Girl Scout career. She’s always been my rock and my motivation and my best coach — this project is no different,” she said. “I could not have done it without her and her gentle reminders to get things done. When I grow up, I will be happy to be half the woman that she is.”

The final step is submitting paperwork to apply for the Gold Award, the highest achievement in the Girl Scout organization.