By Edith Morgan
I confess: I am a cat person. The last and only time I had a dog was in 1943, a small brown and white fox terrier. Since then, I have had a series of cats, who usually lived indoors, had a litter box, and of course never had to be walked or put on a leash (cats do not readily submit to such indignities!). More and more, I feel that cats are the ideal city furry pets – but my neighborhood, like the rest of the city, is full of dogs of all sizes and breeds. I see them being dutifully being walked on sidewalks, occasionally stopping to “take care of business”, usually on a nearby lawn, with their owners picking up after them (ideally, not always!). But of course, they can pick up only solids, so the liquid deposits remain and in the summer become ever more potently fragrant.
Since Worcester is a city of tripledeckers, condos, small unfenced yards, or no yards at all, there is nowhere to let the many dogs run free and play and romp and socialize, as so many of the larger breeds have done for centuries.
So it should come as no surprise that many dog owners try to find open spaces where they can give their dogs a chance to enjoy the wonderful freedom that so many of us enjoy in our parks. But we have an ordinance that dogs, even on leashes, are not allowed in public parks (an ordinance that is generally ignored all over the city). So, in fairness to dogs and their owners, many people want dogs to have their own “parks”, as so many other cities do. There are 0over 600 real dog parks in the U.S., and many places that are used as such informally (If you take a drive around Worcester any day you can see dogs romping around in Elm Park, GreenHill, Lake Park, and many others.
So our time seems to have come to confront the need – we are certainly not pioneers in recognizing the problem: the first U.S. dog park was established n 1979, and we have learned much about how to establish and run a successful dog park.
When we begin the hearings (February 26th) we will hear from many groups : the predictable NIMBY crowd, the dog owners, the animal lovers, and many others. I would hope that before any decisions are made, we all get much better informed about how a successful dog park is run, how the advocates can finance and maintain such parks, and what rules and regulations must be in place. We have to address the questions of location, size, maintenance, and requirements of owners that they have their pets vaccinated, neutered, healthy, and friendly. Other dog park groups have addressed these problems successfully – after several years of efforts. As all those of us who have made changes know, it takes YEARS to bring about changes, but at least we have great models around the country to help us.
I do not have a dog, but can commiserate with those who do and want a place to legally bring their pet, sit down on a bench, watch him/haer play , compare notes with other owners, or maybe even chat with visitors who just enjoy seeing all sorts of dogs play together….
Go to DogChannel.com and other resources and find out how to do this successfully.
I was gonna post Elvis singing “Hound Dog,” but I decided to go with the lady who first sang it true: The fabulous Big Mama Thornton. (Bonus! More music!) – R. T.