Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Veterans Park: Going To The Dogs

I enjoy walking and jogging around Veterans Park off Hicks Road in Hudson, Florida. It’s part of the Pasco County park system:

I’m not alone – others enjoy it, too.

By 7:45 AM, many people have already hit the trail:

 During my walks, I’ve seen Bald Eagles, Pileated Woodpeckers and, of course, Sandhill Cranes:

Of course, there are rules:

But, as they say, rules were made to be broken or, in this case, changed:

To: Frederick J. Buckman, Parks and Recreation Director,
Martha S. Campbell, Administrative Services Manager,
Brian W. Taylor, Parks & Recreation Mgr (Area I & II)

Subject: Dogs at Veterans Park
When my wife and I arrived at the park this morning, at about 7:45 AM, for our walk, we immediately observed people walking around the park with their dog. Since, as they often are, a sheriff car was sitting in the parking lot, I approached the officer and asked if it was within his power to do something about the dog. He advised me to find a county park employee and inform him of the dog's presence. There was a man in the main building cleaning up so I informed him. He advised me that the policy had changed and that people were now allowed to walk their dogs as long as they stayed on the asphalt. If that's true, it's a sad day for park regulars who already have to deal with discourteous bike riders and roller bladers. Now, we have to dodge dog droppings, too. Anyway, the dog in question was being allowed to run all over the place. The park employee didn't seem to care about the dog. As for me, I've always taken comfort from the signs that inform visitors that the policy is "no alcohol and no animals." If this is no longer the case, I'm sorry to hear that.

The Reply:

Dog in park at Veterans Memorial Park
Mr. Toscano:
 I am Terry Hamby, Park Operator at V.M.P. and have been asked to address this with you. At the present time, dogs are allowed at V.M.P. only on the trail, and signage is in the process of being created to define areas where they are permitted, while the current signs will be modified to reflect the change in policy. Dog owners have approached the county and requested that they be allowed to walk their animals at this facility, the results of which you have witnessed. However, dogs must remain leashed, and the owners are expected to clean up any mess their pet may leave laying around. In the near future we may be able to provide pet bags for this purpose, but until then pet owners are responsible for their own clean up supplies.
 In the case this morning I also saw the dog, and did nothing about it due to the change in policy and the fact that the dog was leashed, although it was a very thin retractable style leash that from a distance looked near invisible.
 When I am asked by pet owners where they can take their dogs, I recommend  to them Crews Lake or Jay B. Starkey Parks, both of which are better suited for this activity and have pet stations. When they ask if they can come to V.M.P. I tell them they must stay on the train and clean up after the pet.
 I am sorry you had this experience, but rest assured we are trying to maintain a clean facility for use by our citizens, and will endevor to keep this park clean and dog dropping free.

Terry G. Hamby
Park Operator II
Veterans Memorial Park
Pasco County Parks and Recreation department

The thing with those retractable leashes is that owners can let their dogs roam off the path when they think no one is around, then reel their dogs back in when someone approaches. I’ve seen it already, on three occasions.

Doggy does its business.

The woman, seen above allowing her beloved bow-wow to run, restrains her dog everytime I pass by. Afterwards she praises her mutt by chanting “Good girl, good girl,” as though the act of not attacking me was praiseworthy. This, btw, is the same "leashed" dog Terry G. Hamby referred to in his email.

Of course, I have questions. Like, what was the decision-making process? Was there a decision-making process? Or, is asking all it takes? If so, I'd like to have my car washed and waxed on Wednesdays. And, how many inquiring dog owners does it take to get the policy changed? Who, exactly, are these dog owners? And, who do they know? Did anyone consider polling those of us who are already using the park before they changed the policy? And, how many bike owners will it take before the signs are changed to read “Pedestrians Must Yield To Bicycle Traffic?” Two? Three?

No Dogs. No Bull.

I’m not happy about this change, mainly because I know dog owners. Back when I was a telephone man, time and again when customers let me in their house they’d tell me not to mind their dog because it didn’t bite. Guess what – they didn’t bite their owners, but they sure as hell didn’t mind sinking their teeth into me. Up to now, I’ve seen three people at Veterans park walking their dogs. Two of them have violated the rule about allowing the dogs off the path. It’s only a matter of time before the dogs start lunging at people and barking at the cows and the cranes and all the other wildlife. After all, that’s what dogs do.

UPDATE: March 10, 2013 - The dog situation continues to deteriorate. People don't pick up after their dogs. People don't think their dogs need to be confined to the path or, for that matter, need to be leashed. And, worst of all for us bird lovers, dog owners think it's great fun to let their dogs loose in the area of the pond on the west end of the park, a pond that had been a haven to all kinds of wading birds, so that their little lovable pooches can cause the birds to scatter and fly away which they have, permanently, to somewhere outside the park. Contact the park authorities, you say? You have to be kidding. They usually confine their activities to the smoke free sections of the park, where, by the way, they can be found with cigarettes dangling from their lips.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Story Continues… Unfortunately

I watched Blood Bloods once. The new CBS cop series featuring Tom Selleck revealed a continuing story line dealing with who and why one of his sons was killed. Boring. Not interested. Show me a crime, solve it in one episode or you’re going to lose me.

Even the Red John bullshit involving Patrick Jane of The Mentalist is starting to turn me off to what was once my favorite show. I mean, I can accept some continuing nuances like Temperance Brennan’s relationship with Booth in my current favorite series Bones. Or, in a new favorite like The Defenders, starring Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell, I can live with the fact that Belushi’s character Nick Morelli is going to mix it up with the wife he is enjoying a separation from. Well, he’s not really enjoying it, but it looks like he better get used to it.

Anyway, Back to Bones, the series keeps getting better and better. The frank, literal and always honest Temperance is one of the funniest characters on TV, even though the show is not, strictly speaking, a comedy. I tried to read a couple of the Kathy Reich novels upon which the series is very loosely based and found them completely boring. The Temperance Brennan of the novels bears very little resemblance to the unique and brash Temperance of the Fox series. Thank goodness.