Here’s are some circumstances under which I understand the no off-leash bylaws in our public parks:
-If your dog is not under your control, does not come when he is called, is threatening or scaring others.
Actually, that’s all.
Otherwise, what’s the big deal? I really don’t get it.
I live next to a fenced in dog park that is designated as an off-leash area. It is a gravel floor, and it’s a great spot to take Jimmy to interact with other dogs. But a) the hours that it is open are totally random (Sundays and Mondays 10-12 then 3-9pm, Tuesdays-Saturdays 8-12 then 3-9pm) And you know, sometimes I need to get my dog running before 10am on a Sunday or Monday…because dogs don’t care what the bylaws are.
b) Sometimes that dog park has NO DOGS in it, and that is supremely boring for everybody.
c) My dog doesn’t share his toys, and if there is a toy and a dog in the park, I gotta go.
d) If my dog needs to run, and the dog park has been a bust, the best way to get that to happen is if I throw his chuck it ball (often named his crack ball- ask Rob Ford, he’ll know what I mean). This is an activity that is so all-consuming for Jimmy that he does not see, hear or care about anything other than his chuck it ball. He will run after it like a maniac across a distance that is easily 3 times as large as the fenced in dog park, and he’ll do that happily for a good 20 minutes before I have to tell him to stop or he’ll die of exhaustion.
Today was one of these such occasions: No dogs in the park to play with. We gave it a shot. We went in and we wondered around for about 15 minutes. During this time a lady entered the park without a dog, which irritated Jimmy. His hackles went up and he started to run towards her. I gave him a zap and told him to come to me, and he did. A small skittish dog entered the park- I thought it was a puppy, which is one of Jimmy’s “bad dog triggers”, so I kept him close to me and walked the opposite end of the park, giving him a bit of a buzz or shock if he started to wander away. He stayed close, he heeled with me right up to the owner and his dog, and gently said hi. The owner and his dog left the park without incident.
So, given that there was nothing happening in the park to entertain/exercise Jimmy, and given that he had proven that he was under my control off leash, I took the chuck it out, and away we went.
I threw the ball for him for about 15 minutes, and at around the end of 15 minutes a man and his 10ish year old son walked past. They seemed to be looking towards me and Jimmy and smiling. I carried on. The father and son changed directions and started walking towards Jimmy- so I called him over and kept him distracted because frankly even if they did want to pat him, Jimmy was so high on chuck-it cocaine that he wasn’t going to let it happen. Then the unimaginable happened- the father pointed to what seemed to be the sky for a long time as he walked away from me. I thought he was showing his son something, and so I carried on. It turns out, that super vague passive-aggressive signal was intended for me.
“The off-leash park is that way ma’am.” he yelled.
“I see it.” I have my reasons and nobody is getting hurt here, what’s the problem?
“I’m calling animal control”.
Nothing, off he went with his pride in his chest.
What makes me so mad about this?
Is it that he didn’t talk to me and give me the benefit of the doubt?
Is it that he acted like a jackass in front of his son?
Is it that he fooled me by seeming like a nice neighbourly person?
Is it all of the above?
Dammit, my dog was actually being good. And if the mayor of Toronto can run this city high on cocaine, why can’t my dog chase his crack ball in peace too?