The best things in life are shared

Author Tessa Burkholder’s dog Posie, a friendly neighbourhood dog, enjoys a stick in Brown’s Inlet. Photo: Tessa Burkholder

By Tessa Burkholder

Dogs and Brown’s Inlet have always been an issue and continue to be so. The park is a lovely space used by Glebe residents, many with dogs since it is a designated off-leash park at certain hours. The beauty of off-leash open parks is that they offer a more pleasant experience than fenced-in parks for dogs that are trained and owners who are diligent.

Aggressive dogs are not welcome by most dog owners and non-owners in a shared space. It is common knowledge that some individuals are fearful of dogs, no matter how friendly the dog may be. It can be easy for some owners to forget that everyone does not share our infatuation with our furry canines, and it can be challenging to pick up on others’ apprehension or to assess their comfort level. On occasion, children come into Brown’s Inlet solely to play with our dogs, and it can become easy to assume all the kids who come there have a certain comfort level with dogs.

That said, if any individual is intimidated by a dog’s presence, I am certain that the majority of owners in Brown’s Inlet would leash their dog or ensure they’re kept at the opposite end of the park. The thing is, people need to share this concern diplomatically. The intent is to share the space and this should be a simple task because Brown’s Inlet is such a large area and dogs typically take up only a small section of the park. Other parts of the park are often dedicated to tobogganing, fishing or even tightrope walking.

One shared concern in the park is that the garbage bins are often filled to the brink with bags of dog waste. (The silver lining – at least that means owners are actively picking up poop!) Some suggest the removal of all the waste bins – this has already happened to a well-used garbage bin that has disappeared from Fifth Avenue outside Mutchmor – but this is not much of a solution. We should instead be advocating for the city to implement green solutions and put compost bins (or specifically dog-waste bins) throughout the neighborhood and in the parks. We should direct our energy towards encouraging the city to match the progress of several other cities that have successfully implemented dog-waste programs. Dog ownership is only increasing and better solutions need to be put in place. It’s not surprising the garbage bin in Brown’s Inlet is always full; it seems to be the only bin in the entire neighborhood, other than on Bank Street. Dog-owners and walkers who aren’t even entering the park will deliberately pass by just to drop their waste bag and continue on. As you would expect, it is quickly filled and will likely fill up even quicker now that the bin on Fifth Avenue has been removed. (So those who are perturbed by it, brace yourselves.). The removal of commonly-used bins to avoid accumulation of garbage and dog waste is absurd. There are better solutions.

Going to Brown’s Inlet with my dog is one of my favourite activities. I feel welcome and safe and I get to know members of the Glebe community. I hope that dog owners can avoid being judged as one solidified group that lets dogs run at large and doesn’t pick up waste. We’re not all bad. In fact, most of us are pretty great (along with our dog companions). Some bad apples do exist, but they’re not the majority. Let’s continue to share the beautiful spaces this neighborhood has to offer, communicate with respect and kindness and advocate for progressive and inclusive change by the city.

Tessa Burkholder is a Glebe resident and responsible dog owner who believes in sharing and diplomacy.

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