Having had dogs most of my life, and certainly all of my adult life, I have learned some dog etiquette that has served me well in life. Firstly, not everyone loves dogs. In fact, many people don’t even like them, and many more are deathly afraid of them. Since we humans have managed to fight our way to the top of the food chain, I generally put the feelings of others before those of my dogs. That means, I do not let my dogs off leash near others, I do lock my dogs away if I have company who isn’t partial to dogs or dog hair, and I never, let my dogs approach humans, unless the humans make the first move.
So I totally get the fact that while walking through a public park, it is not fair to have my dogs running ahead of me, sniffing the terrain, and greeting the flora and fauna. There are others who have just as much right as I do to enjoy the park, who should not be disturbed, frightened or made uncomfortable in any way due to any dogs running free.
Luckily, I live in a place where the powers that be understand a dog’s need to run, and a person’s right to be unmolested. Those powers have provided us with a beautiful, off-leash area in a neighbourhood park.
Awesome, right? Well, initially it was. There was an off-leash committee, fund-raisers for equipment, people donated lawn chairs and tables, and left fresh jugs of water for everyone to use. Then the government stepped back in. It was illegal to have a committee of citizens, and it was illegal to fund-raise, and it was the town council who would be running this park, not the citizens who were using it. And just like that, the dog park was an epic fail.
The city stopped doing regular maintenance, and the grass got out of control. There were sharp sticks growing up out of the ground that were cutting the dogs paws, and in the city’s infinite wisdom, they removed the garbage cans from the enclosed area, leaving no place for people to deposit their dog’s mess which they had bagged.
We still took our dogs, and with a little more time, the grass died, the chairs were thrown out, and the place became a quagmire of mud, old sticks, and dog droppings. It is now an empty corral that nobody wants to bring their dog into, and we are back to the original problem; we have a beautiful park with dogs running free, and an off-leash area which everyone avoids.