To the editor:
There are many benefits to a dog park for both the dogs in our community and their owners. The park allows the owner to let the dog run safely off leash. The dog gets the chance to run free as nature intended, allows the dog to more fully exercise and at times socialize with other dogs. The owner gets a change from walking their dog on leash or risking losing a dog off leash. The owner also gets to talk to other dog owners about shared experiences and helpful advice.
In our community, as in most communities, there are some dogs that are seen daily wandering the streets – runaways, neglected dogs, abused dogs and abandoned dogs. A dog park is a statement by the community that we care about these often neglected animals. Perhaps a dog park would also help create an awareness of the many dogs in local shelters needing a home. By raising public awareness of the ways the community supports dog ownership, perhaps more people would adopt a shelter dog. The dog park would give some dogs a little better life. Benches would allow owners to rest and still watch their dogs exercise.
I can envision such a park eventually leading to training and agility programs, frisbee tournaments, and other social gatherings and festivals for dog owners and dog lovers to participate in, further promoting the well being of dogs in our community. This could result in an unanticipated business benefit to the community. Certainly not the prime motivation for a dog park, but a potential benefit arising out of doing a selfless good deed: helping and promoting the welfare of dogs in our community and the people caring for them.
Dogs don’t vote in elections. Dogs don’t pay taxes. Dogs don’t voice any complaints. They accept whatever life throws their way. They accept a lifespan of on average only 10 years. In return for our care, they form a bond stronger than most human bonds. I have seen dogs let out of cars in our community, waiting on the side of the road for their owner to return. I have seen dogs wandering our roads hungry or starving. I have seen some of these dogs killed by cars, alive only a few days earlier.
A Portsmouth Dog Park is like giving a small voice to the voiceless, to the precious lives of dogs in our community. By this selfless act of caring, we also add to the meaning of our own lives. We make a collective statement about what we stand for, who we speak for, and ultimately, what is important to us, the Portsmouth community at large.
Norman M. Jacobs, M.D.