I have a question for you. Before I get to it, I will share a quick back story. At least, I will try to make it quick. This is me, after all.
The other day I ended up talking to a woman while waiting for the bus. I usually avoid talking to people I don’t know because small talk gives me a rash. However, hen you live in the Maritimes, it is often unavoidable. Nova Scotians, especially those originally from Newfoundland, don’t know how not to talk to the person standing next to them. It’s just instinct for them. They simply must converse with every life form who enters their line of sight. It used to terrify me but I have learned they are also brilliant at carrying an entire conversation by themselves. As long as I put in a chuckle and an “aye b’y” every once in a while they hardly notice my lack of enthusiasm.
Anyway, somehow the topic of this conversation got around to dogs. As it does. This woman recently adopted two huskies from local organizations. She adopted them as adults and believes they spent their early lives living permanently outdoors on a chain. Due to this, she is constantly worrying about them running away. Since I lived with a husky myself for seventeen years, I know all too well how valid a concern this is with a normal Sibe. Let alone a newly adopted one. All the recall training in the world may not prevent an eventual break. The main subject of her diatribe – which is what it quickly became – was that our city completely lacks a one-hundred percent fenced-in off-leash dog park.
This is not untrue. The HRM does have many off-leash parks but most of them are more walking trails than dog runs. The closest is the park on the harbourfront but even that one does have an open space right by the water. Most dogs won’t use the ocean as a means to escape but with a husky, you just never know.
This woman became fairly irate as our conversation continued and I prayed for the bus to speed up. She has contacted the city councillors and Animal Services and no one seems to care about the lack of fenced-in spaces for dogs. At first, I was on her side. There should be more dog friendly resources in general. Halifax is pretty old-fashioned in many ways. I’d love for city council to take a more pro-dog, pro-animal, stance. As she ranted, I started to lose sympathy.
Is it the city’s job to provide places for us to exercise our dogs? I wondered. Internally of course. I didn’t want her wrath on me that early in the morning.
Finally, her bus arrived and she left. Though relieved to be finally alone, I couldn’t stop thinking about the questions she had raised in my mind. I do think dog-friendly spaces are important. I do think it is great if these spaces can also be off-leash. I enjoy a great dog park as much as anyone. But if one can’t trust her dogs off-leash, is it up to the city to make it easier for her?
As I got on my own bus to head to work, I was hit by an even bigger question:
Does every dog have the right to run off-leash? Should people even let their dogs off-leash if they can’t trust them to stick around?
Is it morally wrong to only exercise a dog on-leash his entire life?
What do you think?