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DeKalb dog park visitors ready for better amenities

DeKalb resident Rolf Langehaug, 75, pets his vizsla Sophie while sitting at a picnic bench at the dog park Friday in DeKalb's Katz Park.
DeKalb resident Rolf Langehaug, 75, pets his vizsla Sophie while sitting at a picnic bench at the dog park Friday in DeKalb's Katz Park.

DeKALB – Stop by the DeKalb dog park on a hot day and you may find pooches parked under picnic tables.

Frequent users of the temporary dog park, a softball diamond located in Katz Park off Dresser Road, say the recent hot weather and lack of shade have made conditions uncomfortable.

When Megan Armstrong, 27, of DeKalb, brought her dogs Friday, it was already almost 80 degrees by 11 a.m. She said dogs regularly camp out under the picnic tables to take a break and stay cool.

“We need something bigger with trees,” Armstrong said. “It’s a wide open space and [the dogs] need some shade.”

The dog park was opened in December after dog owners requested an area from the park district. The softball diamond is a temporary location until the park district conducts a one-year review and decides to make alternate decisions.

At a June 12 DeKalb Park District board meeting, dog park users thanked park district leaders for the temporary location and asked that the facility be expanded and improved.

Park Board President Phil Young said the park is still under its one-year review, as the park was created last fall. After the year passes, the potential for a permanent park will be clearer.

Young said the board has been receiving input from residents, but there are no plans to improve or change the current park because it is only temporary. He said the area will return to being a softball diamond.

John Tobias, an avid user of the dog park who runs its Facebook page, said occasionally some dog owners will bring kiddie pools, but a rule against clutter means the pool and dog water bowls need to be packed up and gone by the end of the day.

“We are supergrateful for the temporary location, and it has been well received,” Tobias said, adding that the Facebook page has more than 500 likes. “But dogs need a constant supply of water and established grass.”

Rolf Langehaug, 75, of DeKalb, said the area gets crowded in the evening after most people get off from work. He said the diamond can turn to mud when the weather is poor.

“Nobody wants to walk their dog through mud,” Langehaug said. “We need more grass.”

Armstrong occasionally takes her dog to the dog park in Batavia, because it offers a pond where her two dogs, Penny and Trixie, can swim.

“Swimming is good for older dogs because it helps with arthritis,” Armstrong said. “It’s nice because they get tired and they don’t need to do anything for the rest of the day.”

Armstrong frequents the DeKalb park in the mornings with her dogs, because she works a night shift. She said the park is nice because each time she visits, she sees dogs she hasn’t met.

Kristen Catencamp, 40, of DeKalb, said DeKalb’s park is behind the times, because many other towns have parks with shade, water and grass.

“The majority of us who have dogs come here and enjoy it,” Catencamp said. “But we would like something more.”

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