Big dog, big idea

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A woman and her dog get people talking

Times Herald Photo by Warren Bluhm

When Odin is included in the picture, Sheila Manns’ comment that “Oconto County could use a good dog park” gains a little more impact.

It began with a big dog and a man-on-the-street interview, and it turned into an online community conversation.

The subject of last week’s “Street Talk” feature on the Times Herald front page was “Fill in the blank: Oconto County could use a good ____.”

“Dog park!” said Sheila Manns, of Oconto Falls, as she walked her dog, Odin, at Oconto’s Breakwater Harbor Park and Harbor on July 31. “There’s nowhere to bring dogs and let them run, get some exercise.”

Because of the Street Talk format, there was no room for Odin in the paper; he was cropped out and only Manns’ face was shown. But the dog made such a striking image that we posted the complete original photo on the Times Herald’s Facebook page, with the note, “The photo was cropped in the paper because there was no room for Odin, but Sheila’s suggestion has more impact when you get the whole picture.”

And the conversation began.

“Agreed!” said several Facebook users.

“That would be wonderful if Oconto had a dog park. A lot of homes just do not have big yards for pets,” said another.

The post had received four dozen “Likes” and about a dozen comments as of Monday. The idea has been in the news a lot locally with a new dog park opening in Bellevue in June to go with dog parks already open in De Pere and Howard.

Manns, as it happens, is the park and recreation manager for the city of Oconto Falls.

“I think it would be something people would really embrace,” Manns said Friday. “I’ve heard of places where friends have a coffee clutch at the local dog park in the morning — so it could encompass socialization for people, too.”

She understands the idea of a dog park was floated a few years ago in Oconto Falls, but city officials didn’t pursue it because of concerns about liability.

“There’s nothing that says it couldn’t be private,” she mused. “A person who has some land …”