A “Tail” of Four Dog Parks, Part III: Kruse Park

Kruse Park 1

In this series I will discuss examples of four types of dog parks:
Part I - Shaggy Pines - a private membership-based park
Part II - Hillcrest Park - a public dog park
Part III - Kruse Park - a public beach that allows dogs
Part IV - Lowell State Game Area - forested state land
Each has its benefits and drawbacks, and I discuss those as well as my experiences taking dogs to each type of park.

Norman F. Kruse Park is a public park in Muskegon, Michigan that sits right on Lake Michigan. Highlighted by a mile of sandy beach the park is actually intended for human use, complete with picnic pavilions, boardwalk trails through the dunes, and a playground. However, a portion of the beach is open to dogs and it’s one of the most beautiful places you can take your pet.

Unlike purpose-built dog parks, Kruse Park seems to allow dogs as an afterthought. Evidence of this may be that there are just two rules for people sharing the park with their dogs: 1) pick up after your pet, and 2) dogs must be on a leash. That’s all, and one of those rules makes no sense. How will your dog go swimming with you holding onto his leash?

As it happens, the rules are neither followed nor enforced. I’ve taken my dogs to Kruse Park on countless occasions and have yet to see a dog on a leash there. Well, except for my dogs the first time we went as my wife and I tried to respect the rules, but dogs on leashes tend to feel defensive when surrounded by other dogs who are running free. As a result it’s not even practical to keep dogs on a leash on the beach. In the parking lot and on the boardwalks the leash law does make sense, but down on the beach it’s not necessary.

Kruse Park 2

In fact the location is naturally “fenced” — bounded by Lake Michigan to the west and by 100-foot dunes to the east, dogs have nowhere to go except north and south. With about half a mile of beach to run, it’s difficult for the dogs to wander off; they may chase something for a hundred yards but with nowhere else to go, they’ll eventually come back to you. Most of the dogs prefer to hang out near their owners, especially when those humans are throwing sticks and balls into the water for the dogs to fetch.

Fortunately Kruse Park is rarely crowded, especially the dog beach. Most of the time my dogs are the only four-legged beach-goers within sight and it is absolutely awesome to have an entire beach all to ourselves. Oddly enough I see more people taking their dogs on the inland trail at the park rather than bringing them down to the beach — why get so close to Lake Michigan and then head into the woods?

Kruse Park 3

A sandy beach that allows dogs is one of the coolest places to go, and Kruse Park is no exception. It’s a bit disconcerting that there is hardly any regulation, but as it happens such regulation isn’t needed unless the park becomes very busy. There’s little opportunity for socializing with other dogs and their owners, but that’s OK if you want to get away to enjoy a day at the beach with your furry family.

Photos: Amanda Schrauben

2 Responses to “A “Tail” of Four Dog Parks, Part III: Kruse Park”

  1. Nora and Rufus says:

    Rufus and the rest of our pack LOVE any beach and just run and fetch and swim theirselves to happy exhaustion. The look on their faces and huge grins is reward enough!!!! That beach looks awesome! And your doggies look so happy. It makes for good frisbee practice also.

  2. Nell Liquorman says:

    We know some people will never pick up pet waste after their own dogs. Perhaps a yearly fee, for people who use Dog Parks, is the answer. It could be used to hire a custodian that continually picks up the droppings.

    A few years ago there were a few reports about how animal waste was affecting waterways with high levels of bacteria. Remember rainwater runs off, even from our own yards. And, underground water suppies can be contaminated. You just can’t leave cleanup to the casual visitor who probably does not care because it is not in his neighborhood. Exposure to bacteria affects every specie, even you!

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