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Parks Are For Everyone

September 28, 2011

A week ago, my 10 month old Australian Cattle Dog puppy was beaten by a grandfather with his walking stick when he trotted too close to his young grandson. We were yelled at by him and his wife who told us explicitly that the park was for children, and they were “sick of people like you, with your dogs”. Despite their angry comments, we had arrived to the park beside our apartment after 7:00pm, which is when dogs are allowed unleashed.There is no sign that says this, but it is known to all dog-owners. We are well aware we will receive a fine or ticket if our dog is off leash before 7:00pm. Also, we were no where near the playground (the jungle gym, slides and swings erected for children’s play) and never go there. We just go on the grass to play Fetch, and our dog has never bothered a child in the 8 months we have owned him. He is too happy and busy chasing his Kong ball.

I always feel apprehensive taking my bigger dog to the park beside our home, despite the fact there are many dogs off leash there. Whether it’s the playground, the baseball diamond or the track–there are multitudes of children there every day from dawn to nightfall. I understand the organized soccer games and baseball games that parents are paying for, and will gladly play Fetch with my dog on the side but my dog needs to run and roam too. He’s not just a little Chihuahua. He’s more like Marley from the movie.  From Toronto Life’s Baby Wars article (read article here : ) I read about the high-profile fights between parents and dog owners at other Toronto parks like Trinity Bellwodds and Withrow Park. The law always rules in the children’s favour and bans dogs off leash. How arbitrary is this?

It is about responsible dog ownership but even if we pick up after our dogs and keep them as far away from young children as possible, it seems parents with children aren’t happy unless the dogs are on the leash. Every time I go to a park and let my dog off leash, I have some worried parent with a stroller or a young child giving me the stink eye. I guess all the money I spent on vaccinations and obedience classes aren’t good enough.  My dog is super-friendly, yes maybe a bit rambunctious, but he would NEVER harm a child. His intention is to play and burn out his energy. Parents who own both dog and child gets so much less flack for their dogs offleash but if we come to a park solely to exercise our dog, parents get huffy.

I just want to scream , “STOP THE MADNESS, PEOPLE!!!!”

I wish we could call a truce. The park is for everyone: for teenagers cutting across to get home from school, for children on their bikes and their organized soccer games, for dog owners and dogs who need to run, for joggers in their Lululemon garb,  and for couples going for a nice stroll without child nor dog.

I have done my best to introduce my dog to as many people who frequent the park as possible, so they realize Benji does not pose a threat. I want them to know I enjoy the park and using it daily, and I also understand they fancy it too. I will never allow my dog to harm a child or impede their playing process, I also wish that they will allow us some {more} grass to run on, and stop thinking every dog is a bad dog and every owner is irresponsible.




From → My CF Life

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