• Carmen Marie Fabio

Dog days of summer

PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Whether we’re on vacation or back in the office, lucky enough to be retired or gearing up for another school season, those among us who are dog owners know that their socialization needs – from humans and from other canines – are constant.

Towns are recognizing the importance of having a dedicated space for dogs to run, play, exercise, and sniff to their hearts’ content, thereby keeping public parks accessible and comfortable places for families without four-legged children.

Rules for most dog parks are similar: Dogs must be vaccinated and accompanied in the park by their owners. Aggressive dogs or female dogs in heat are not allowed. And, most importantly, owners must pick up and dispose of their dogs’ waste immediately.

Some municipalities stipulate their dog parks are for residents only – best to check the websites beforehand.

A well socialized dog is typically calmer and happier with less of the fear-related aggression traits of their non-socialized counterparts. Incorporating dog-park visits into your dog’s routine, even weekly, will have positive effects for both of you.

Vaudreuil-Dorion

This park located on Route Harwood at Exit 28 off Highway 40 at the Hudson Shopping Centre is one of the most heavily populated, especially on a Saturday morning. There is plenty of free parking and the park is generally very clean. Drawbacks include a lack of trees and though it’s open year-round, its sloping grounds can make it treacherously slippery in winter and very muddy in the springtime. People are friendly and there’s a Facebook page where owners can touch base to set up playdates for their dogs. Water in buckets is provided on a volunteer basis by the owners. Much like kids after a morning at the playground, dogs don’t like to leave the park without stopping by Global Pet Foods for a sniff and a cookie.

Hudson

Large tract of grassy land bordered by trees in a quiet area on Main Road across from Thompson Park. Plenty of parking available adjacent to the park. If your dog likes to run and lives to bring you the tennis ball again and again, this is a great spot. The park is currently undergoing renovations. Hudson’s Arts, Culture & Communications Coordinator Laura McCaffrey reports, “The fencing is in the process of being replaced and proper gates installed. Inside the dog park, much-needed shade will be created with the planting of several trees. An area for small dogs who aren’t comfortable being around larger dogs is planned, as well as the installation of several obstacles for dogs to play in, and around. For the dogs’ humans, we’ll be installing picnic tables, garbage cans, and dog-poop bag dispensers. Lastly, as no water infrastructure is available at the park, we are currently looking at the feasibility of using a water collection system to provide water for the dogs.”

Île-Perrot

One of the more beautifully landscaped dog parks of the ones visited for this story. This mid-sized park located at the corner of Don Quichotte Boulevard and Rue de Province offers free bags for waste pick-up and a water fountain for dogs that unfortunately, at the last visit, was not functioning. Still relatively new, once the nearby trees mature they’ll offer some shady spots. Nearby parking available on side streets. One errant pile of doo-doo was found but this is inevitable at all dog parks.

Pincourt

Large and hilly tract of land covered with a mix of grass and wood chips great for dogs who need to burn off some energy. Located at 725 Cardinal-Léger Boulevard, there is parking available. Open from May to October. Benches available for owners but there are no trees to offer shady spots. Calm and quiet area but one drawback is the occasional bad smell that wafts over from the nearby water filtration plant. This, however, doesn’t seem to faze the dogs at all.

Kirkland

A massive parcel of land located at the intersection of Chemin Sainte-Marie and Jean-Yves Street, this would be a great place for dogs who need to run. Bring a Frisbee or tennis ball but best to do so early morning or late afternoon as there are no shady spots to escape the sunlight. Water bowls were present at last visit but, unfortunately, so were many bags full of dog-poop tossed near the gate. This is hard to understand as a large garbage can sits about 10 feet away from the main gate.

Beaconsfield

The Town of Beaconsfield is in the process of building one of the largest dog parks in Montreal, a reported 155,000 square-feet with a separate 25,000 square-foot area for smaller dogs. The park will be located in the Luger Triangle adjacent to Angell Woods, a mostly privately-owned lot covering 250 acres. For years, dog-owners have used the woods as a de facto dog run and though Beaconsfield is in the process of enforcing its leash-law with signs threatening fines for unleashed dogs, a number of dogs were still seen off-leash in the woods at a recent visit. Parking is available on a gravel lot off Elm Avenue across from the Beaurepaire commuter train station. Bring your own water supply and some mosquito repellant. If you go, be aware that you’re on private land in an ecological area and govern yourself – and your dog – accordingly. The beautiful scenery of a recent visit was marred by the odd plastic bag filled with excrement and left on the ground waiting for the Fecal Fairies to magically dispose of it.

Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue

Lovely little spot on the corner of Sainte-Elisabeth and Saint-Pierre Streets. A mid-sized park around 8000 square-feet with plenty of mature trees and benches for owners to sit. Free bags for dog waste pick-up is a nice touch. Limited parking available on Saint-Pierre Street. One drawback is the noise from nearby Highway 20 and the train tracks but really, your dog won’t mind.

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