Every day we have the challenge to exercise our city pups in a safe and fun way...for those that frequent the dog park, this is a no brainer.
But what about the individuals who don't? I met a lot of great friends, both humans and dogs, being a regular at the dog park here in South Philly, but there wasn't a doubt in my mind after Buster Brown was attacked that I had to stop going. Having close calls is one thing, actually seeing your dog attacked in a way, where for a moment, you thought, this could be it, is truly life altering. For weeks I couldn't get the images and sounds out of my head from that day. I'll save you the details for another entry, because that's not what this article is about.
What this entry is about is, what can you do to exercise your dog, safely, now that you don't frequent the dog park? Now, I am a HUGE believer in interactive walks (i.e. asking for eye contact, touch, jump here, grab that stick, etc), but we all own dogs that look truly happy when they're running, off leash, particularly in grass. They get this huge smile that stretches ear to ear and is so infectious, it doesn't matter what sock they tore up earlier, you are now just as happy as they are.
I've had a lot of struggles myself lately. There's either dog parks, or parks for humans. I've been yelled at, chased out of supposed dog friendly areas, and incessantly nagged with "Do your dogs bite?!" (which I retort, not usually, ha!). There really isn't any in between areas that you can safely take your dog off leash. I've actually noticed a group of dog owners at Marconi Park (Broad and Oregon) that let their dogs run off leash in the park, which looks like a lot of fun, and my boys are SO jealous watching them, but Broad Street is right there, and so is the four-lane Oregon Avenue. My heart just won't let me do it...both my dogs like to chase birds and squirrels, and I can't help but think, what if? It's just not worth it (and my heart can't handle it!).
I love my dogs, and I love the city, but sometimes I wonder if we could be doing more for the sake of our dogs? Could we create an area, a shared dog run, in which we could privately rent the outdoor space, invite the doggy friends we know our pups get along with, and feel safe, and content knowing that our dogs are having fun, in a controlled environment?
Before I move out of the city (if that ever happens), I promise to change the way the city perceives dogs, and their owners, and revolutionize dog parks and runs because it should never be this hard for our furry friends to have fun and be safe, off leash.