Went out to the dog park for the first time in a while with my wife Jackie and Sheera. Sheera, as some of my readers know, was owned by Jackie's parents, and we adopted her when they passed. Jackie's mom and dad loved the Maple GroveDogPark, and would go daily, regardless the weather. It was a great way for them to get out for fresh air and exercise, and it enriched their daily lives. I am very thankful for this, and try to pay it forward whenever I can.
Sheera has gotten markedly less mobile in the last year, so an on-leash wander up and down our street is enough wear her out. This made the trek to the dog park in the depths of winter unnecessary for us and our busy lives. But now that the weather has changed, taking her out for a leisurely stroll in the dog park a few times a week is a great way to get a little "couples" time and some exercise. I don't think we are alone in this thought, there seemed to be a lot of people and dogs out.
There are many off leash areas in the city to take your pets out so they can get you some fresh air. Fields for Fido on the winnipeg.ca website shows you where and outlines the rules you need to follow when using these resources, but I'd like to just remind everyone of a few.
Stoop & Scoop - Please use plastic bags to pick up after your dog. There are bags around most of the parks that are donated by volunteers, and receptacles for the waste.
Train Your Dog - Please train your dog to respond to commands, whether on or off-leash. The last thing anyone wants when they are enjoying a walk is to have to break up a dogfight, especially if the animal being attacked is your own.
Respect other users of the park - Walkers, joggers, cyclists, skiers, and other dog owners have a right to enjoy the paths as well. The first two items go a long way to make this happen, but please take others into consideration in all your activities. These are public areas.
A few other rules include: Dog owners must be present and within view of their dogs at all times. Aggressive dogs are not allowed in off-leash areas. Dogs must be under voice control while off-leash. Dog owners must have a leash in hand at all times. Female dogs in heat are not allowed in off-leash areas. Holes dug by dogs must be filled by the dog owner. These are common sense rules, intended for the harmonious use of the park.
Proper Licensing is required - Please ensure your pet is properly licensed. Its not expensive, the funds are used for animal services, and it is the law.
Many of the parks have user groups or dog owners associations that you can volunteer for. These groups organize events and fundraisers to improve the facilities, and provide additional maintenance to make the dog park experience better for everyone. Don't be afraid to step up and make everyone's experience a little better by your efforts. And if you see Sheera, Jackie and I walking, don't be afraid to stop us and say Hi!.