There has been a lot of negative press lately regarding unleashed dogs at the beach.
As a dog owner myself, I heartily agree that education and etiquette are very high on the list of responsible dog ownership.
However, I absolutely do not agree with a total ban of off leash dogs on the beach. Yes, you may have the entire park and boardwalk as “on leash” zones and I believe that makes sense as these are high traffic areas for both pedestrians and vehicles in the park.
Responsible owners would want to leash their pets there as a matter of safety for the dog — not to disregard all others!
What I take issue with is the enforcement of dogs-off-lease on the big beach, especially at low tide! My friends and I like to take our dogs to the beach and let them run free.
I own a young Labrador and she loves the water. I could walk all day with her on leash and it wouldn’t be enough exercise. When I take her to the beach I stay way over to the left and don’t let her off of her leash until I am well away from shore. She runs and runs and swims and swims and it is an absolute joy to see. People constantly smile and say how beautiful it is!
For the most part we have pleasant encounters with other dog owners on the beach. They understand! Ironically, and almost funny, is the fact that most negative encounters happen when a small dog races up to and yips at my dog. This has even happened when my dog is on the leash! I get that big dogs can look scary — but remember the saying, don’t judge a book by its cover?
Of course the other big argument against dogs in public places (leashed or otherwise) is the “doo doo” factor! Yes, by all means pick it up! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve filled my extra bag with someone else’s mess. It’s gross, but it’s the right thing to do.
Regarding the off leash dog parks: they are wonderful. Both Parksville and Qualicum have lovely facilities and I frequently take my dog to both — especially appreciating the off-leash trails behind the QB conference centre. What great resources! However, they can’t match a really great free run and swim!
One of the very pleasant and most positive things we appreciated, when my family moved here a few years ago, was that Parksville was understanding enough to allow dogs on the beach. What a refreshing and mature attitude! Who doesn’t love to take their dog with them when enjoying nature?
Lee Anne Hockin-Grant