The simple joy of local dog parks

It was a glorious fall day on the last Saturday of October, perfect weather for a dog park membership drive, barbecue and fundraiser.

Every off-leash dog park has an association that represents the dog owners who use the facilities, and which helps guide the development of the areas and raise funds to help pay for those developments.

These groups are run by volunteers, and ‘voluntolds’ (kind-hearted people drafted into positions by friends or loved ones, who then step up and do a wonderful job they never asked for). It’s mostly thankless work, except at these occasional get-togethers where you can meet the people working to make your pets off-leash time so much better and give them a nod or pat on the back.

Our local dog park is Maple Grove Park (100 Frobisher Rd.), just off St. Mary’s Road and the perimeter. We’ve been visiting this park since we moved here in 1999, and the changes over those years have been remarkable.

Some have come directly from fundraising, others have come from working with the city to acquire funding and work to make improvements. A fenced puppy area, improved pathways and trails, updated fencing and gates, lovely grass in the main area, all these things have happened with the assistance and hard work of the Maple Grove volunteers.

With the disruption of COVID, get-togethers such as the one on the last weekend of October were not possible but, with the relaxed protocols, we are getting back to normal. I have to admit, it was nice to get out in the fresh air and meet up with lots of familiar faces as well as new (to me) people.

This gathering was hastily assembled, but you’d never have known. They did a great job in getting donations for the silent auction, setting up the barbecue, and signing up people for new or renewed memberships. It seemed like everyone truly enjoyed themselves and, like I said, I got to meet some new people I hope to meet again at future events.

Dog parks are a vital part of our city and they rely on people to support them administratively. A simple Google search can put you in touch with your local park’s administration group, should you want to volunteer. Maple Grove’s group can be reached at admin@maplegrovedogpark.ca, and its website is www.maplegrovedogpark.ca

A simple Google search of “fields for fido Winnipeg” will lead you to the City of Winnipeg site showing where the off-leash areas are in the city, and there is a downloadable brochure on the basic rules. It’s a great idea to review this brochure to remind yourself how to share these spaces safely.

To summarize, you need to have a valid dog license to use the areas; must be always within view of your dog; must always have leash in-hand; aggressive or female dogs in heat are not allowed in the off-leash areas; all feces must be picked up; and any holes dug by dogs must be filled. Parks are open from sunrise to sunset.

Remember: “Obey the sign, or pay the fine.”

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