A pause for the cause of paws in Glebe Park

These Koolies are ready for a walk. Sitting on top of their doghouse in Haliburton.

 Glebe Park Committee will discuss the philosophical implications of off-leash area

By Terrance Gavan

If anyone has not seen the movie “DogPark” I highly recommend it.

It’s about life, love, obedience, obeisance and managing boundaries.

Susan MacDonald is a dog-lover. She’s also a dog breeder who wants to provide Haliburton’s many dog lovers with an off-leash dog park.

MacDonald appeared before Dysart et al’s Glebe Park Committee on Tuesday (Oct. 4) asking them to consider fencing a part of Glebe Park – in off season, entailing about nine months of the year, excluding summer – and turning it into an off-leash haven.

Dysart et al’s municipal by-laws state that dogs could only be off leash while on private property – or during hunting season.

MacDonald is one of only three breeders of Australian Koolies inCanada, and she’s works part-time as a dog groomer.

Her appearance at the Glebe Park Committee is the first step in a long bureaucratic process – yes, she is aware that it’s a novel idea – that will eventually entail getting approval from Dysart Council.

“We don’t have an off-leash space in Haliburton right now,” said MacDonald at her home shortly after the Tuesday meeting.

She told Glebe Park Committee Chair Jim Blake that she’s done the requisite due diligence and has even priced out the total cost of fencing the proposed area which would be located between the Museum and the Cross-Country Ski Chalet.

Deputy Reeve Bill Davis was concerned about costs and especially just how much Dysart would be asked to commit to the off-leash proposal.

MacDonald said that the cost for fencing – fully installed – would run to approximately $15,000. She added that she would like to integrate with the cross country ski club to discuss the parameters of their usage requirements to ensure that the dog park would not unduly stress members of the cross country community in Haliburton.

The dog park use will be restricted to spring, summer and autumn and will be divided into separate areas for large and small dogs. The fencing/gating will be taken down during the tourist season.

MacDonald started a face-book page – The Haliburton Off Leash Dog Park Facebook group – at the beginning of September and she explained that it already has close to 100 members.

Her plan includes a novel idea to offset the cost of the fencing and maintenance.

“Right now dog owners are required to spend $10 per year to register dogs in Dysart et al,” she said. She told the Glebe Park Committee that her plan would include a $25 lifetime fee – life of the dog that is – set by the municipality and that only owners with that tag would be allowed into the off-leash park. She insists, she said later, that this strategy would encourage dog owners who want access to off=leash space to get a license.

If you weren’t aware that your dog should be licensed in Dysart to the tune of $10 per annum? Don’t worry. It’s a by-law that is almost wholeheartedly disregarded by most of the dog-owners in the municipality.

Davissaid that there were some big concerns with that change in policy and said that it would have to be discussed by council.Davisdid not sound too positive about the viability of the option, but MacDonald is sticking to her guns on this point.

She cited the large number of dogs in the area (in the five figure range including cottagers) and said that if 650 dog owners decided to opt for off-leash status and registered at $25 per pet? That alone would pay for the fencing. Couple that with yearly additions, grants and fund raising and MacDonald is firm in her conviction that this is a fiscally viable project that would provide a service and end up costing the municipality very little. She thinks that the Facebook response alone indicates that a group of concerned citizens could actually provide impetus for the $25 dog registration in the municipality.

Chairman Blake thanked MacDonald for her input and said that theGlebeParkcommittee would table the motion for “philosophical considerations” at a later meeting of the committee.

Google Facebook/ HaliburtonDogParkor go directly to https://www.facebook.com/groups/250748524963275/

terrance.gavan@haliburtonhighlander.ca and twitter.com/terrancegavan

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2 Responses to A pause for the cause of paws in Glebe Park

  1. oh, heck YES we need to recognize the four-legged citizens of our county!

    it’s absolutely ridiculous, the way this county (Minden, I mean, and, by extension, Haliburton) would like to pretend that dogs either don’t exist or else are a luxury reserved for the well-to-do.

    i mean, come on: a doggie “resort”!? call it what it is: another line of revenue.

    we NEED dogs here, especially those who live in the remote parts. when i lived out on milburn road, i can’t begin to count how much aggravation and potential danger my dog averted, whether it was preventing my daughter from falling into the river after she snuck out of the house or scaring off the bear that was getting a little too close to the compost pile or running off a drunk that decided my house would be a nice place to crash for the night.

    actually, literally “crash” but it’s such a ramshackle old shed, who could tell?

    and what of those who are elderly and have little to no mobility – we should let them sit, alone and unregarded, in their apartments without even a four-legged companion to keep them company and provide incentive to take a gentle stroll twice a day?

    every day this summer, i saw at LEAST two dogs suffering miserably in cars, the windows eked down a mingey 2″ and the glass coated with dried slobber as the dog tried to get his head out for some air. The shops around here *know* ppl are travelling distances to get the shopping done, they *know* ppl are bringing their dogs, yet there is absolutely no Barking Lot arrangements where ppl can tie up the dog with a bowl of water out in the fresh air until the owner gets back from the shop.

    we need to accept that dogs are an integral and vital part of living in this area. They are our companions, our guardians, our friends, our fitness trainers, and, for many, even our children. To expect us to keep our dogs “out of sight and out of mind” is ridiculous. How are we supposed to properly socialize our dogs if they are never let off leash? How are owners of problem dogs supposed to get advice, support, and assistance from owners who have corrected their dogs’ bad habits?

    I’m told all too frequently that the reason I cannot buy children’s clothing in this town is because there is no demand for it – and yet we have two thriving pet stores and, last i counted, no less than 4 doggie day cares, all doing a booming business.

    In Minden, we also need an off-leash park and I think sectioning off the far end of Rotary Park would be just the ticket – the only time ppl go over there is to play with their dogs, go fishing, or go swimming because the beach side is packed wall-to-wall. Another option would be Panorama Park. What about that swampy bit near now-vacant variety store? There’s even a paved pad already there. I could go on and on – there’s any number of candidate locations.

    It’s pretty sad when I had to easily a dozen times “no, no, we don’t have an off-leash park. at least, not a *real* one” to disappointed tourists. No swimming pool, no off-leash park, yeah – we’re looking like a real tourist mecca here.

  2. btw: i recognize two of those koolies! i had my dog – then very hyper and difficult to control – in town with my daughter. i think it was canada day festivities. anyway, my dog was already spooked out by my daughter’s balloon and when he saw the koolies, couldn’t decide if he wanted to yap excitedly and spin in a dizzying circle to invite to play or jump up and savage the balloon which was bobbing and bouncing around in a most threatening manner (i guess). the upshot was he ended up with the string to the balloon slip-knotted around a toe at which point he completely lost it – i had to drag him into the sears catalogue store for a pair of scissors to get the string off his toe and also, by then, his foot (who knew a dog could tie actual knots, eh?).

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