January 16th, 2021

Dogs don’t belong in playgrounds

By Lethbridge Herald on May 18, 2018.

Al Beeber
Lethbridge Herald
I try every year to take the week of my birthday off. It’s usually a time when a person can get in the yard and do some spring gardening prep. I don’t tend to celebrate birthdays much since that is the day my son in grade 9 was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
But I take it off anyway and last week I managed to achieve a personal first — hitting Costco three times in five days. The first was in Calgary after visiting my elderly dad, the second after a dentist appointment with Dr. Kevin Goth, whose office is right across the street from Costco in Lethbridge.
That visit was probably a mistake. After four fillings, my face was frozen so badly I couldn’t even talk which I’m sure had staff wondering if I’d stopped at the adjacent liquor store first. But when I’m staring at the Costco sign while my mouth is being drilled for an hour, the temptation is too much to resist. And so was the lemon poppyseed cake which I pretended was kale, two loaves of it ending up in my cart as I slobbered and drooled through the aisles. Best “kale” I’ve ever dug a fork into.
The third stop simply happened because I was in the area and the truck just turned into the parking lot on its own. It happens sometimes, trust me. And lo and behold, there was still “kale” in the bakery section!
During the week, I pretty much tuned out of the world except for satellite radio. I did breathing exercises with the dogs on the sofa two hours a day — my euphemism for napping — and of course made sure they were walked.
And that walking led me to a couple of unexpected experiences at city parks — people playing with their kids on the equipment while letting their dogs run off-leash and unsupervised. Except for dog parks, our four-legged companions need to be kept on leash, a matter I found troubling when a couple of scruffy little ankle biters looking like rats crossed with mops ran up to mine, barking and snarling while their owners tended to children on playground equipment.
The comment made by their owner that my dogs didn’t want to play was asinine. Just because people think their dogs are friendly, they can’t assume others are. My German Shepherd can be, but sometimes isn’t, and at more than 100 pounds, he’s big, strong and can be hard to restrain when he’s angry. Which is why he’s always on leash, even at Popson Park unless he’s with dogs he knows and likes.
When provoked, dogs are going to react — whether it’s to another dog being aggressive, or maybe by being startled inadvertently by a bicyclist or jogger. Dog owners have to be aware of their surroundings and focus entirely on their animals when in public. I believe any dog can be aggressive, and none should be trusted — especially at a busy city park — to wander around loose.
And who in their right mind is going to bring one to a playground? Dogs urinate and they defecate, and no matter how well an owner cleans up the mess, there is still going to be residue for kids to step on or touch. Common sense should dictate dogs don’t belong around those play structures, or on the surrounding grassy areas. But people bring them anyway, which is pure unadulterated idiocy.
It’s particularly dumb at Sunridge where signs warn park users to be wary of rattlesnakes. Unless they’re aliens with two heads and multiple eyes, parents can’t keep track of children and dogs at the same time. And they can’t reasonably expect others to accommodate their multi-tasking.
All people need to be respectful of others while enjoying city parks. That way we are all safer and everyone is happier. It should be a simple concept to grasp. Sort of like flossing daily. And I bet a lot of us ignored that for too long.
Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter.

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