FAIRMONT - Tears pool in Sheree Grimm's eyes when she talks about Oreo, her beloved therapy dog she was forced to have euthanized a couple of years ago.
"I got Oreo in 2001, and he was my hearing dog," she said.
Grimm was born prematurely, weighing only 2 pounds, and was not expected to live.
Sheree Grimm holds a picture of her therapy dog, Oreo.
"I was not diagnosed with a hearing loss until I was 5," she said, and people had called her "retarded."
When Grimm first saw Oreo, she commented about his "funny body" to her best friend, but the 17-pound rat terrier with his beautiful brown eyes soon became her dedicated and loving companion.
"I came from the Twin Cities, moved here in 2006. My best friend lives in Truman," Grimm said.
When they lived in the metropolitan area, the two had a standing date every week at a dog park in Anoka.
"My girlfriend and I would go every Saturday morning. The dogs had such a wonderful time, and I'm a dog lover so I'm speaking from experience," Grimm said.
Grimm has survived a difficult period in her life.
When Oreo was 11 1/2 years old, he suddenly couldn't walk.
"It was a pinched nerve in his lower back. The vet gave him a 20 percent chance," Grimm said.
Unable to see her dog suffer, she made the heart-wrenching decision to have him euthanized.
Before she could consider obtaining another hearing dog, Grimm faced her own health issues.
"I've had three major surgeries in the last 28 months," she said.
"Then my parents died within eight days of each other. That was 16 months ago."
She vowed to use her share of the proceeds from the sale of her parents' home to do something positive, but she was undecided as to what this would be.
Then Grimm heard about the proposed Fairmont Area Dog Park. She remembered moving to Fairmont with Oreo and bemoaning the lack of such a facility here.
"I heard about them raising money. I knew in my heart what to do," she said.
She heard the dog park committee was going to have a booth at Market Square at Heritage Acres during the Fairmont Fun Days in June, but pouring rain during the event caused her to cancel her visit.
On July 4, she visited the committee's booth during Heritage Acres' annual festival and told Beth Haskins, committee president, "I've been looking for you."
Grimm then proceeded to pledge $4,000, which she calls "the magic No. 4," to a stunned Haskins.
"Fairmont needs a dog park," Grimm said. "My wish is all those dog lovers out there - make sure you come and donate."
Now that Grimm has recovered from her medical issues, she wants to get a rescue dog through the Human Society and have the animal trained as her hearing dog by Can Do Canine in New Hope. For 25 years, the facility has trained dogs for people with various challenges including autism, diabetes and hearing, disabilities not normally associated with therapy dogs, Grimm said.
Grimm promises to be a regular visitor to Fairmont's dog park, to watch to animals and socialize with their owners.
"I can't wait to meet more dog moms," she said.