by Dennis Dalman
It’s about time little dogs had their day – not in the sun but out of it.
That’s what Kelly Thompson thought, and that’s why she paid $640 to get eight shade trees planted in the dog park in Sartell. Now the little dogs will have some shade to romp and play in, just like the big dogs do on their shady side of the park. As the little pooches romp near the new trees, they’ll likely lift their legs in praise and gratitude.
The new trees, autumn-blaze maples – a fast-growing kind – are 8 feet tall. Thompson bought them at cut-rate prices from Helmin Landscaping south of Rice. Two Sartell Public Works employees planted them and will tend them.
Thompson is thinking about buying eight more trees next year.
“I love the new trees,” she said. “I can’t wait to see how big they get and how beautiful they’ll be in the fall.”
The dogs, of course, love them too. They chase around them as if the line of maples is an obstacle course.
Thompson is the owner of Knotty Paws, a dog-grooming shop in Sartell.
“I love dogs,” she said. “I love all animals.”
She’s been a dog-park enthusiast from the get-go, ever since she heard about an effort to construct one about five years ago in Pinecone Central Park in Sartell. She chipped in money to the many fundraisers by a dedicated group of dog owners at that time. Finally, with those funds and funds provided by the city of Sartell, fencing was installed around a large rectangular patch of land near the entrance to Central Park.
“People really don’t know how well that dog park is being used,” Thompson said. “We and our dogs are very happy to have it. On cooler days, there will typically be about 30 to 40 dogs in the dog park.”
Earlier this year, Thompson was fostering her daughter, Kelsie’s dog, Harley, for awhile. Harley is a miniature poodle that loves to run and chase critters. Thompson also has a very old dog named Marcus, a Maltese poodle. She would bring those dogs for recreation in the dog park. But she quickly learned how afraid they were to hang out in the shade with the big dogs on the big-dog side. At the park there are two separate areas, fenced off from each other – a partly shaded big-dog side and a shadeless small-dog side.
“Marcus would jump up on my lap, scared to death, if a big dog would chase him,” she said.
As a result, the smaller dogs, including Marcus, would have to play on the opposite side of the park – the hot, sunny side.
“That’s when I decided trees are needed,” Thompson said.
At one time, Thompson was a licensed cosmetologist, but then dogs became a priority, thanks to a friend of Thompson’s, Sandy Skaja who is an expert dog groomer. She taught Thompson the fine art of dog-grooming, and one day in 2013 Thompson decided to open her own business. She now has five full-time employees and is seeking two more.
She lives in an apartment building on Pinecone Road right across the street from Pinecone Central Park, very near her Knotty Paws grooming business.
She has also noticed another need at the dog park for all dogs who visit there – little, medium, big. A need for water.
“We don’t need anything fancy,” she said. “Just a water faucet or a pump of some kind. I’ve been told it will take from $2,000 to $3,000 to hook up water to the dog park.”
Thompson and others plan to do some more fundraising to get the water there.