How to Create a Dog Park for Your Community: Vision


Many people have been asking Amelia how to create a dog park for their community. Perhaps you would like to know how to create one for your community also. Amelia and her friend Ellen became dedicated to the process of turning the Frostburg Dog Park vision into reality so I am going to relate how it all began and the required steps to get it done here on YourPetsView in a series of posts…

Frostburg Dog Park Visionary

Ken Baxter

Back in 2002, Ken Baxter, a former teacher at Beall High School in Frostburg, Maryland, led the way with his vision of an off-leash play area for dogs. He began the momentum for a dog park to be built in the Frostburg area. Although he is very humble about his contribution when asked about the role he played, it is my understanding that without his belief in the need for a dog park, it may never have been developed at all. He moved away from the Frostburg area while the fundraising was in its infancy.

Financial Start:

A small committee of dog lovers who felt a dog park would be good for dogs started a specific ‘Friends of the Frostburg Dog Park‘ fund within the non-profit Foundation for Frostburg.  A modest amount of money was added to the dog park fund to open the account.

Robin Gorrell D.V.M.

Robin Gorrell D.V.M.

 From A Professional’s Perspective:





Robin Gorrell, a Frostburg City Official and veterinarian had the foresight to know that any dogs attending a dog park needed to have social skills and some obedience training. Dog owners also needed to be educated about proper etiquette in a dog park setting.

Fundraising Through Education:

Dr. Gorrell asked Ellen Moon, an owner/breeder/trainer/handler of Labrador Retrievers, if she would be willing to start obedience classes on behalf of the Friends of the Frostburg Dog Park.  Ellen then asked her friend who is my companion Amelia Johnson, a pet business owner, if she would be willing to team up with Ellen to educate the prospective dog park attendees. Ellen and Amelia had become friends through their membership in The Upper Potomac Valley Kennel Club. 

Ellen and Amelia continually attended seminars to learn from top trainers, including Ian Dunbar, the founder of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers which is now the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. Ellen and Amelia developed their own curriculum for the puppy and adult dog classes using the positive reinforcement methods they had learned.

Robin Gorrell and Brian Vought were doggedly determined to convince the Mayor and City Council at that time that the dog park was not only a good idea, but was needed and was supported by the community.

In order to raise the private funds necessary in a timely manner (it still took 8 years on a part-time basis) Robin and Brian asked the City Officials to offer City Place, (which is normally a rental facility charging $40/hour), to be used as a training facility at no charge. Dog parks were still a novel idea at that time and everyone, especially the Commissioner of Water, Parks and Recreation had to buy into the idea of the ultimate value of a dog park in the community.

Having City Place available for training classes would play a key part in how the funds could be raised to create a new recreational facility in Frostburg.

In the Spring of 2003, the City of Frostburg offered the use of its City Place community center as the training location. The center was ideal with its large open space and cement floors so accident cleanup was quick and easy.  Remember, we are talking puppies here and puppies get excited and pee and if they are really excited they complete their duty. This is what I’ve been told…I wasn’t even born yet.

We must mention Kevin C. Gummer, a student at Frostburg State University, who also served a role in the initial success of the puppy socialization and adult dog obedience classes at City Place.  City Place was being used for other events when classes were not in session. Kevin maintained the cleanliness and safety of the facility for the dogs. He also provided educational handouts for the classes.

These handouts asked the public “Why Have A Dog Park in Frostburg and What Can You Do?”  We will cover those questions in our next post so be sure to subscribe to Your Pets View to learn more about how we created a dog park in our community. 

Leave a comment. Let us know what you are thinking and if we can answer any of your questions on this topic along the way.

Living in the moment,


Pet Companion to animal lover Amelia

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