First, a quick welcome to the newbies who have joined us in recent months. Welcome!

And now quickly on to a bit of concern: The voices of discontent are growing louder as the number of complaints about off-leash dogs received by the DCR has been increasing in recent months. Like most of us, the DCR doesn’t enjoy this chorus of unhappy voices, and, again like many of us, leans toward the easiest solution – though it may not be the best or the most democratic: off-leash privileges are always in jeopardy.

Increased complaints brings increased DCR presence and scrutinization. There’s nothing like an unannounced visit to see if our on and off-leash rules are working. Let’s see if we can effect our own positive resolution before it becomes a contentious situation and/or before we have to band together to fight for the off-leash privileges that we sometimes take for granted.

Be mindful of the parameters of responsible dog ownership. Set a good example of same, and if you see someone who may be new and unfamiliar, remind them kindly of our obligations, as well as our privileges (i.e. tell them the negotiated areas of off -and on- leash; remind them to pick up after their dog and to carry the filled poop bag to a trash barrel in a parking lot – and not leave it on a trail or by the poop-bag dispenser).

Let’s follow the rules of park etiquette:

  • Clean up after your dog if your dog poops on or within 5 feet of a trail, and then BRING THE FILLED POOP BAG TO A TRASH BARREL IN THE PARKING LOT (carry an extra supermarket plastic bag to put the filled poop bag into, so you can have another layer of protection between your jacket and the offending pile). Especially clean up IMMEDIATELY on the hill used by children for sledding.
  • Off-leash areas include the meadow in the pond area and most interior trails.
  • Dogs are to be leashed in all parking lots, at all times. No exceptions. This is as much for the safety of your beloved dog as for the peace of mind of all drivers.
  • Dogs are to be leashed on the walking trail along the earthen dam/aqueduct (this includes the sledding hill on the Milwood side. Dogs should not be racing or chasing sledders).
  • Dogs are to be leashed on all trails that abut private houses.
  • Dogs are NOT to leave the park and enter private property. Not ever! No exceptions!
  • DOGS ARE TO BE UNDER STRICT VOICE COMMAND AT ALL TIMES. If your dog does not regularly, consistently and dependably respond to your commands, work with him/her so that he/she may enjoy off-leash privileges, and so that you may be spared embarrassment or worse. Aggressive or threatening behavior is not acceptable. If you cannot control your dog, put him/her on a leash. If your dog is a threat to or does not fit in with well-behaved dogs, do not bring him/her to Callahan until he/she -or you- are better trained.
  • Dogs may not jump on humans. This is rude behavior and gives all dogs a bad name. A jumping dog belongs on a leash in the presence of humans.
  • Pay attention to your dog as you would your child. Know where he/she is at all times.
  • If someone asks you to put your dog on a leash, don’t argue – even if they are rude about it (take some pride in being a kinder human). Put your dog on leash until you are out of sight of any who might be uncomfortable around dogs – whether they are nice about it or not.

Let’s be models of responsible dog ownership, and let’s teach the uninitiated or uninformed among us how they too may join the ranks of responsible dog ownership.

Good luck, troops!