Dog Stewardship....It's Every Owner's Responsibility | Blogs

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Dog Stewardship....It's Every Owner's Responsibility
Blogs, People, Pets
Dog Stewardship....It's Every Owner's Responsibility

The greater Portland area is a very dog-friendly place, with numerous beautiful locales for socializing our dogs both on and off the leash.  As the owner of a dog-related business and the “Mommy” to two adult Labs, I am ever grateful that my dogs can swim in the ocean, run in the woods and frolic in open fields within walking distance or a short drive from our home.  I take my responsibilities as a dog owner very seriously and invite others to consider how seriously they do as well.  I’m saddened by the amount of dog waste littering the trails in Robinson Woods (managed by Cape Elizabeth Land Trust) in the winter months.  I’m dismayed when I see off-leash dogs jumping on people at Willard Beach.  I’m concerned and upset when my customers report that their puppy or adult dog was the victim of a vicious attack while playing in the “dog area” at Fort Williams.

I worry that we dog owners will lose the privilege of being granted access to these wonderful places.  Last winter, my husband and I decided to clean up the trails in Robinson Woods.  We dragged sleds behind us and filled them with bagged poop we picked up as we went along.  By the time we were through, we’d had quite a serious work out and had difficulty lifting two huge trash bags full of poop into the back of the truck.  This winter, we are again disappointed and frustrated.  Who is responsible?  I’ve heard people say, “it’s the out-of-towners who don’t pick up after their dogs.”  Really?  There must be a whole lot of them, then, and they must come by often, because the amount of unbagged waste is astounding.  I’ve also heard someone suggest that dog waste is biodegradable and won’t harm anything in the woods.  Seriously?  

Please...if you are heading out with your four-legged friends to enjoy one of our lovely open spaces, stick a couple of bags in your pocket.  Place a few in your car so you’ll have a stash in case you forget.  Attach a bunch of bags to a tree along the trail to share with others who may have “forgotten” theirs.  Consider picking up at least ONE mess left by someone else in addition to your own dog’s when you take a stroll through the woods.  It’s not that difficult to do the right thing.

If you have an exuberant dog who enjoys greeting humans with a paws-on approach and/or a lick on the face, consider having the dog drag a line in the woods or at the beach so you have some control over their actions.  If the behavior is excessive and troublesome, do the responsible thing and avoid areas where your dog can practice the behavior.  Otherwise, you are putting the freedom of ALL dogs at risk at places like Willard Beach.  

Be willing to supervise your dog appropriately when s/he is playing with other dogs off-leash.  If your dog behaves inappropriately or worse, injures or harms another dog, be willing to follow through in a responsible manner.  Stick around long enough to exchange contact information with the injured dog’s owner.

I’m not perfect and neither are my dogs.  Accidents happen.  Poop bags get forgotten.  Dogs and people have bad days.  Being responsible is crucial.  Thank you for taking your job as a dog owner seriously.


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