I often like to brag about the variety of off-leash dog parks we have here in the Halifax Regional Municipality. From the sprawling trails at Point Pleasant to the dedicated dog beach in Shubie, there are seven city-sponsored off-leash areas, not including all the sports fields that are open to similar activities from November to May.
Until recently, I had visited all but one of these parks and was very impressed. Not only are the parks well-maintained with services such as garbage cans and poop bag dispensers, but the off-leash areas are sizable. In each one Shiva has plenty of room to get her zoom on.
This might be why I was so disappointed when I finally checked out the last official dog park on our list.
Fort Needham Memorial Park is actually an interesting historical spot. Located close to downtown Halifax, it is nestled in the lovely neighbourhood of Hydrostone, a registered National Historic site, which is a beautiful area to walk around even in the worst weather. In the centre of the park is an eye-catching bell tower, erected in memory of those who died during the Halifax Explosion.
What could be better, right?
My central complaint has to do with size. When I think of an off-leash park, I assume there will be space for my dog to sniff and play and roam around a little. We had a few hours to spare while we waited to attend our weekly agility class. Since I knew Fort Needham was close, I figured we’d head over and spend those two hours wandering around, maybe work on some training exercises. At one of the entrances there was a map of the 0ff-leash area and it certainly looked decent enough.
My expectations for this place were clearly far too high. It took us maybe – maybe – three whole minutes to walk through the designated off-leash section of the park. Perhaps fifteen to stroll around the entire thing. And this includes taking as many sniff breaks as Shiva could ever desire. With an hour and forty-five minutes left to kill, I was as encouraging of her nose as I could be.
“Are you sure you don’t want to sniff that blade of grass just a bit more? How about that shrub? I bet a lot of dogs have peed on that!”
Shiva just gave me a look that said she was pretty sure other dogs had owners who took them to better parks than this teeny space.
She was probably right. We only saw one other dog the entire time and it was hanging out off-leash on the playground, the one decidedly not off-leash portion of the park.
If you ask me, there is hardly any point at making this an off-leash park at all. It is located just off a busy road and there is no fencing. Any dogs that like to run for more than a millisecond will inevitably be running out on to the sidewalk and potentially getting hurt. When I saw the size, I didn’t even bother letting Shiva go and kept her on the leash the full hour we were there. It was just too dangerous.
Despite our boredom, Shiva and I somehow managed to get through the two hours before our class without killing each other or any passers-by. I probably whined about it a lot more than necessary but I’m not the kind of person who takes disappointment very easily. Especially when I expected to have fun and ended up just poking at the ground with a stick.
Shiva is terrible at “I Spy”.
What is your idea of a good dog park? Do I have overly high expectations?
For Petfinder’s Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, each day I am sharing the stories of a few of the cats waiting for their forever homes. If you’ve got a minute, why not stop by Petfinder.com to help spread the word?
Fran here is a sweet six-year-old at the S.H.A.I.D. Tree Animal Shelter in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, she has been through some recent mouth surgery and will require a little extra love, not that it will be difficult to give. Her grey fur looks as soft as velvet.
Ash on the other hand is a sprightly young male from the East Greenwich Animal Protection League in Rhode Island. Abandoned by his owners, he is ready to find his next set of adoring fans. Ash is a snuggler and has been without a snugglee since December of last year. I find that pretty hard to believe.