Friday, February 20, 2009

Park is Off Limits For Mutley Crew, Doggnit!

Here are some pictures of me and the Mutley Crew enjoying a fun Sunday afternoon at our nearby 'dog park', Fleet Peeples. Sadly, we will no longer be able to visit our dog "Disneyworld" of forest trails, meadow, and lake or to meet n greet other canine pals on sunny Sundays because the powers that be in our city have decided to enforce a citywide leash law ordinance on week ends and holidays from ten am to four pm, so that people may rent the picnic areas and enjoy the lake with out contact with dogs. The city of Winter Park charges a rental for these facilities and I guess they think they can make some bucks in this poor economic time, but the revenues will be minimal and I suspect the real reason is that we have some dog haters with connections to city council. The city did a study to see if Lake Baldwin was being contaminated by dog waste and determined that it wasn't, although there is one woman known to be publicaly concerned about the issue. (Never mind that wild animals and human children pee in the lake, lady. There's lotsa gators in there with big teeth and bad attitudes. I wouldn't swim in it anyway, but you go right ahead.)

Several members of my dog agility group informed me that there always was a leashes ordinance in the park just like the rest of the city but that it "was never enforced." I never knew about the dog park ordinance: never saw signage to that effect either. The only dogs I ever saw leashed in the park always behaved in an a borderline aggressive way...they always appeared nervous, growled, and snarled when approached by my dogs and I quickly called my poochies away and gave them a wide berth. There were never more than a handful and I always wondered why their owners would bring them if they were not well socialized.

Leashing dogs, especially tightly, prevents them from showing the correct doggy body language to tell other canines that they aren't a threat, especially when most owners jerk them back or tense up when approached by other 'strange' dogs. This happens all the time on our street walks. Never happens in the dog park when the dogs are free to run up to each other and act like dogs are meant to. I am concerned that even if we take our dogs to the park during the few permitted off leash hours (which don't work with Danny and my schedules) they will encounter lots of poorly socialized pooches still on lead and when snarled at and lunged at with bared teeth they will try to defend themselves. Leashing in the dog park will cause fear aggression problems and fights will break out. So, I will no longer risk my dogs there.

There's really no point in going to a leash park anyway. Leashed dogs can't play with other dogs. They can't run the forest trails and they can't swim in the lake or chase and retrieve balls and frisbees. I might just as well continue our daily thirty minutes walks around the city (on lead) twice daily. When we encounter threats in the form of alpha postures, lunging, and bared teeth barking, I can keep them safely on my side of the road. Or cross the road. Weirdly, the worst offenders are usually Bichon Frises which are either really fear aggressive or just plain suicidal. Mini pins are not fear aggressive or suicidal and my dogs know the difference. Sometimes size doesn't matter! But that's anopther blog subject for another day.

But, I am really sorry that the Mutley Crew will lose the joy of the freedom to run and play and jump into the lake at Fleet Peeples. It meant a lot to them and created much joy in Danny and me as well as watched them be the dogs they were always meant to be. Winter Park doesn't want us anymore. Too bad. I guess the travel guides and dog magazines will have to cross Fleet Peeples Park off the list of top dog parks in the USA.

By the way, it is my understanding that it was the dog people who raised money to make the park as nice as it is. Used to be a more rundown place and a spot for sexual predators. With less dogs, the bad guys may come back. Bad guys don't like dogs who can smell and sense their evil vibes and dogs tend to like little kids. So watch your kids there folks. You're on you're own. And without a few hundred dogs in the lake gamboling near the shore the gators may come back closer to your swimming kids. And you. Thank our commissioners for that. And remember to vote in two weeks in the upcoming mayoral race.


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