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Tag: beaches

Oak Island to consider beach dog ban

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Whether one of North Carolina’s best known dog-friendly beaches will stay that way is coming up for discussion.

The Oak Island town council will discuss changing the rules at Oak Island Beach at its next meeting, including a proposal from one council member to ban dogs entirely.

Currently the law permits dogs year round on the beach, and requires them to be on leashes between March 15 and October 15.

The ban was proposed by Councilwoman Carol Painter after receiving an email complaint from a beachgoer who said “a dog made aggressive actions toward a child,” according to the Wilmington Star-News

“One of the kids stood up to walk towards the tent away from the dog and the dog starting barking and lunged toward the children in an aggressive manner,” the email said.

No chidren were harmed by the dog, or even touched by the dog apparently.

The proposal to ban dogs from the beach during daytime hours will be heard at the council’s next meeting, along with a proposal to make it easier for animal control to enforce nuisance laws on the beach.

Oak Island Mayor Betty Wallace told the Star-News the city receives few complaints about dogs misbehaving.

“As many dogs as we have all over Oak Island, there have been very few situations that involve any issues with dogs,” she said. “Most often the complaints we get are people not picking up a dog’s poop. Or dogs barking excessively.”

The town’s reputation as dog-friendly is what draws many tourists.

“The whole reason we wanted to come here was because of the dogs,” said one visitor, who drove from Colorado to visit. “It’s one of the few beaches that allow dogs.”

One resident of the town told the Star News she thinks there is plenty of room for dogs and people at Oak Island’s beach. It could even be sectioned off, she said, to allow additional areas where dogs aren’t allowed, and where dogs could run leash-free.

“We have enough beach for everyone,” she said.

(Photo: OakIslandPets.com)

A farewell to the Pacific

On our last west coast afternoon, Ace and I were wearily headed back to the motel after spending the day touring Monterey when the beach beckoned.

Knowing our route was going to take us inland, that there’d be no more Pacific Ocean views in our travels, I decided we should soak in all we could before we left. Ace didn’t object.

Marina State Beach was nearby, so I pulled in, only to see a sign that said dogs weren’t allowed. Hang gliders have dibs, it seems. So I headed north, probably less than a mile, and saw two trails leading to the beach. With more than an hour until the sunset, I grabbed a dog-hair covered blanket from the car and we hiked up a sandy path to the highest dune I could find, overlooking the ocean.

Winds had blown its surface smooth, so there was not a track anywhere to be seen, except those we left behind us.

I curled up under the blanket, and the sun came out from behind the clouds, providing some warmth, but not quite enough considering the cold winds that were blowing. I also noticed, even with my eyes closed, that something kept blocking the sun out — not for long periods, like clouds do, but in quick flashes. I opened my eyes to see what it was — a hang glider.

So we can’t hang out on your beach, but you can buzz our’s? How fair is that? I shot him repeatedly, and some of the pictures came out okay.

Then I re-situated myself, head on my camera bag. Ace curled up next to me, then nosed his way under the blanket. I rearranged it so it would cover us both.

I thought a pre-sunset nap was in order, but Ace, after a few cozy minutes, felt otherwise. He decided it was playtime, so he started squirming around under the blanket, then sat up and looked me straight in the eye. I stared back, knowing that he was in perfectly still alert mode and that the slightest movement I made he would interpret as playing.

So I got up, and he ran circles around me. Then he repeatedly charged at me, veering at the last possible second, looping around and coming back again. It’s our version of bullfighting — violence, blood, bull and cape free, though he does sometimes playfully snap at me when he passes by.

After 30 minutes of that, the sun began a quick descent. Ace lay still on the dune — which our playing had turned into a pockmarked mess — and watched with me.

Part of me, a very small part, felt as if I should smooth the dune out before I left, like I should have one of those little sand trap rakes golfers use and return it to its original condition.

The larger part of me said, naaaah, they were joyous divots, and merely temporary ones. Overnight winds would blow the dune smooth again — just as sure as the sun sets over the Pacific.

From sea to grimy sea

We didn’t cover too much ground yesterday — progressing only from Biloxi to New Orleans, but we did get in some beach time in a town called Waveland, Mississippi.

Good thing, too, because it was a sweltering day on the gulf. As Ace splashed about on an isolated sliver of beach in Hancock County — where dogs, on leashes, are allowed and unleashed ones don’t raise too many eyebrows — I wondered, between the oil approaching our shores and global warning, if the day might come when seafood can be hauled out of the gulf pre-fried and ready to eat. For our side order, we could toss in a basket of fries, which would emerge golden brown, salted and only slightly toxic.

But seeing the ominous sight of spill workers combing the beaches with large plastic bags, just a few hundred yards from where children played, I realized it’s clearly no laughing matter. It’s truly a hellish one.

The suffering already caused, to both wildlife and humans, and, as we’ll see tomorrow — even dogs — has likely just begun.

Hancock County’s beaches haven’t been hit — yet — and the hordes of worker are mostly picking up beach trash as they wait to see what comes ashore.

But for parts of Mississippi, and much of the rest of the gulf, particularly New Orleans and other areas still getting over Hurricane Katrina, the combination of natural and man-made disasters is almost too much to bear.

For a little relief, people make jokes.

As I checked into another Motel 6 on the edge of New Orleans yesterday afternoon, a storm appeared to be on the way.

“What’s next?” the motel manager was saying to the front desk staff. “Maybe a sandstorm? Or a rockstorm. That’s what it’ll be, a rockstorm.”

(For all of our continuing series, “Dog’s Country,” click here.)

Biloxi’s beaches — no oil, no dogs

Mississippi’s coast has so far been spared from BP-sponsored black tides, with most of the oil that has leaked since the rig explosion appearing to be headed for the coastlines of Florida and Louisiana.

Despite that, Biloxi’s wide white sand beaches seemed relatively empty when Ace and I pulled into town yesterday.

A massive effort to fight off any slicks that might approach is being staged, but Biloxi’s beaches so far are fortunately free of oil, unfortunately short on tourists and, as usual, not dog friendly.

Maybe Biloxi is a reflection of how skewed our priorities can get. Drilling in the gulf? No problem. Casinos on the beach? The more the merrier. Dogs on the beach? No way.

They, or so I guess the reasoning goes, might taint the pristine shores.

Meanwhile, the welcome mat is laid out for high-rises and high-rollers and those seeking oil from beneath the gulf, even though the potential mess they might bring can mount far higher than a pile of dog poop.

I’m just sayin’.

Of course, policy and practice are two different things, and locals inform me that, except on the weekends, one can pretty much get away with their dog on the beach, as long as he or she is leashed.

We didn’t know that, so Ace and I just sat on a bench under the 96 degree sun and stared longingly at the water.

We stayed at a Motel 6, which we can now add to our truly dog friendly list.

The room was a bit spartan, but the staff went gaga over Ace, and his poundage — despite the silly obsession so many motels have about a dog’s weight — was not a factor at all. The staff even came up with a nickname for him, BAD, standing for Big Ass Dog.

Today, after a day driving south, Big Ass Dog and me head west. Possibly we’ll stop at one of Mississippi’s dog-friendlier beaches, maybe we’ll spend some time in New Orleans before taking on Texas. In any event, we plan to dip our toes in the water — avoiding, we hope, the big ass oil spill.

Quiet Waters makes top dog beach list

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Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis has been named the No. 2 dog-friendly beach in the nation in a listing released by the pet website, Petside.com.

The “Top 10 Dog-Friendly Beaches” were selected for their “outstanding features and promise of fun for dogs and their owners alike.”

The folks at Petside chose Cape San Blas, in Port St. Joe, Florida, as the No.1 dog-friendliest beach, due to its “year-round, leash-free policies and plethora of dog-friendly activities,” including a sailing program that welcomes dogs aboard.

As for Quiet Waters, Petside didn’t go into much detail, praising only that it was a “fenced off area” and  sponsors the annual Howl-O-Ween Barkin Bash costume parade for dogs and their owners.

Here’s the rest of the top 5, which, strangely, include one where leashes are required.

3. Block Island (Rhode Island) is a small dog-friendly island open year-round. The beach has a relaxed leash policy, and bans all motor vehicles, making it a safe haven for your furry friend to roam around.

4. Cannon Beach (Cannon Beach, Oregon) is a four mile stretch of beach along the Pacific conveniently located near a town filled with dog-friendly hotels, restaurants and shops. Dogs must stay on-leash, but the view is worth it.

5. Fort De Soto Park (St. Petersburg, Florida) has the unique Paw Playground, consisting of fenced-in areas for both big dogs and small dogs. The park provides dog showers, a dog beach and fresh drinking water.