Thursday, November 12, 2009

Frick Park is Dog Park

For Locals Only: Ok, Pittsburgh people; I have been saying I was going to write this post for months, and now with all the comments in the Pittsburgh Post-gazette lately, I feel the time has come. Frick Park is a beautiful woodland environment, full of hills and valleys, interesting paths and lost hollows along with small creeks and Nine Mile Run. It is also full of something else: Frick Park is full of people with dogs.

The dogs probably outnumber the people on any given day, since many people have more than one dog. There is a leash law, but like that scene in “Pirates of the Caribbean” it is more of a suggestion than a mandate. After all, who is going to police the park at all times? Mostly, dog owners.

Now, I must say, my dog is always on a leash. This is because my lab would go on a walkabout and not be seen for a week if I let him off the leash. Many people have dogs that are perfectly well behaved; I do not. Mine is over a decade old (around 74 years old in dog years; a dog ages one year for every 52 days) yet he acts as though he is a puppy on his first visit to a park on a leash. He was a farm dog, you see, and has never adjusted to that funny thing around his neck tethered to me. He looks at me funny every time I put it on, and rolls his eyes, but acquiesces to my request.

Some people have complained recently that they would like to see the dogs on the leash, at least until they reach the OLEA (Off Leash Exercise Area-a magnificent space with barrels, tubes, and planks, as well as a large space perfect for ball and Frisbee toss), and that is fine. Others wish that people would clean up the number 2’s left by our 4 legged brothers and sisters in various locations in the park. Some wish they wouldn’t go in the creeks and streams, which they couldn’t if they were on a leash always. Here’s what I think:

Dogs are beautiful beings; they truly love unconditionally, even those who probably have not earned their love and trust. Most are gentle and fun, unless trained or abused to be otherwise. Poop is poop; it’s not fun, and it has germs, and it is messy, but it is not the end of the world. I wish all we had to worry about in the entire world was walking in the occasional pile of puppy poop. The world would be blissful if that was the only thing we needed to concern ourselves with…so here is my compromise suggestion.

People: clean up after your dog…ok, not in the 12 foot pampas grass, but elsewhere; you know what I mean. As far as the streams go, gosh, can’t a dog have a little fun? I wonder about a world where everything has to be put under glass, and we all have to stay on the path. I haven’t let my dog in the water for years, but I love watching when others do. People: stay close to your dogs, don’t let them get a quarter of a mile away, walk up to other people’s children and perhaps frighten them. I love having the dogs of everyone in the East End approach me from the woods, but many folks don’t.

People without dogs who may not like the loose four legged friends: Frick Park is Dog Park. It just is. I think it’s wonderful, even when I am there without my dog. Why? Because I feel safe, always. Dogs are very intuitive, and they sense trust. They innately protect, and that is what I love about them. Don’t like dogs? One woman commented in the editorial section of the Post-gazette to go to Schenley instead. That is not far from Frick, so maybe not walking distance for some, but still a short bike ride. No worries.

Frick Park is dog park; let’s just accept it, and for those who can, embrace it. That is one of the most wonderful urban parks in the world to me. It is full of ancient trees and hidden treasures. Check it out, with or without your dog escort.

Falcon and Dove

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