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Tag: homeowners

A big “Amen” for this amenity

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Mention the words “homeowner’s association” and my muscles, sphincters included, tighten right up.

Something bad is bound to follow, because such groups are generally pretty uptight, notoriously rigid with their rules, and they take matters like what breed your dog is, or what color your shutters are, way too seriously.

So I was pleased to hear that the one I’m now a part of (which shall go nameless) recently consented, informally at least, to letting people use the fenced in tennis courts as a dog park.

dsc05411It’s not the sort of thing your typical homeowner’s association does — showing that kind of flexibility — but it came just in time for my new dog Jinjja and me.

Jinjja can’t be let off the leash yet. (On top of the fact he might take off and never come back, it’s against association rules.)

He’s not good enough on the leash to jog alongside me, which isn’t going to happen anyway because I don’t jog.

Taking him to a dog park isn’t yet a possibility, because he refuses to get into my car.

That leaves him with no place to run.

Except for my hallway, which he has taken to using for those energy-filled sprints dogs generally burst into a few times a day. He zips back and forth between front bedroom and back bedroom for about 15 minutes, at least once a day.

So when a neighbor told me that the association had given an informal nod to allowing dogs to use the tennis courts, in a meeting just last week, Jinjja and I were there the next day.

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I brought along a tennis ball, and a big handful of training treats, so I’d be able to get him to come back to me. I checked the perimeter for openings, and then unleashed him.

For the next 30 minutes, he trotted around checking the perimeter for himself, determining it was pretty escape proof.

Though fenced, it was clearly the most freedom he — a dog rescued from a South Korean farm where dogs were being raised for their meat — has enjoyed of late, if not ever. And he seemed overwhelmed by it. He ignored me entirely, ignored the tennis ball entirely, even ignored the treats I held up as he trotted by.

He was either entirely focused or entirely unfocused, I’m not sure, but a good hour passed before he ceased running, slowed down and approached me.

Leashed back up for the walk back home, he jerked at the leash less and stayed at my side more than he ever has.

The tennis court surface may not be the most ideal one for a dog park, especially if multiple dogs are playing roughly, but for a quick run, especially a solo one, it works fine.

You might wonder if tennis players are up in arms about this.

Apparently not, and apparently dog owners this particular community far outnumber tennis players, if there even are any of those.

I’ve only seen the courts occupied once in the nearly five months since I moved in — and there is no reason they can’t be shared, assuming dog owners do a good job of cleaning up after their dogs.

As a fan of the game, though I rarely attempt to play it these days, I even support tennis players getting priority, and requiring dogs to exit in the event someone wants to play.

Around here, tennis players are few, and dogs are everywhere. Several residents on my block have multiple dogs. Two of them have five each.

Apparently, dog owners have been pushing the idea for a while — even though they would prefer an actual dog park with grass.

One thing I’m sure of, Jinjja is grateful for it.

Until I get him past his fear of jumping in the car, or he trusts me enough to let me pick him up, we’ll be regular users.

Man could lose house for refusing to leash dog

A man in Tarpon Springs, Florida, is sticking to his guns — and threatening to use them — in a protracted battle over walking his dog without a leash.

Robert Wirth Jr. has spent $100,000 in legal fees on the case, and may lose his house, all because of walking his dog in a deed-restricted community without a leash.

“We’re running out of time because we’re running out of money,” said Wirth, 52, who works as a real estate broker and continues to walk his black Labrador, Cole, without a leash.

In January 2003, the River Watch Homeowners Association fined Wirth and his wife, Sandra L. Blaker, $1,000 for letting Cole walk without a leash. When the couple didn’t pay, the association filed a lien and, later that year, foreclosed on the home to collect the debt.

Last year, a circuit judge ordered Wirth and his wife to pay the fine, plus interest, attorney fees and other costs or the house would be sold. Wirth now owes more than $40,000, he said. He filed another appeal in February 2008, which has yet to be ruled on.

Wirth argued that the River Watch Homeowners Association deed restriction —  “A dog must be kept on a leash at all times when outside” — is too broad and, as written, required even dogs in fenced yards to be on leashes.

Wirth’s frustration have escalated to the point that he not too wisely said he would shoot and kill one of the board members if things don’t go his way. “I am not going to let them ruin me and my wife like this without standing up to them,” Wirth said.

Wirth’s comments were reported to the Tarpon Springs police, which followed up. The agency said the threat didn’t appear imminent, but that authorities would monitor the situation.

The St. Petersburg Times, in an editorial today, comes down on the side of the homeowner’s association, calling Wirth’s defiance of the rule “stubborn and illogical.”

The editorial argues that the couple, by buying the house, agreed to the restriction and states that, no matter how well-behaved a dog might be “there are no guarantees when dealing with an animal.”

The full story an be found here. The editorial is here.