How many human years have gone into figuring out just where and how dogs can play in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area?
We don’t know, but clearly the debate isn’t over yet, and won’t likely ever be.
The latest revision of the federal dog management plan for GGNRA adds some new areas that dogs on leashes can roam, subtracts a few areas where dogs could previously run free, and once again stirs the decades-long debate over where dogs fit in at the scenic, 80,00-plus-acre federal playground.
The new document is an attempt by National Park Service officials to address some of the 4,713 comments that poured in after the first 2,400-page dog management plan was released in 2011. “The tome,” the San Francisco Chronicle notes, ”outweighs many of the pooches that frequent the park.”
I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere in the Bay Area, dog talking amongst themselves are just shaking their heads and laughing about all the man-hours that have gone into figuring it all out: “C’mon guys, is it really that complex?”
Unfortunately, since it involves humans, yes, dogs, it is.
Especially when many of those humans see what they want to do on the land as paramount — be it dog-walking, bird-watching, jogging, hiking, biking, picnicking, ocean-gazing, serenity-seeking or soul-searching.
Between all those conflicting agendas, and its mission to protect the integrity of the land, the National Park Service faces a balancing act that has no end.
Its latest effort is a proposal that loosens some restrictions and tightens others when it comes to dogs in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The proposal adds more leashed areas to the GGNRA and let dogs run free in new areas of Fort Funston and Fort Mason.
“It’s a substantial increase in the amount available for off-leash voice control use and connectability to the beach,” said Howard Levitt, the park’s director of communications and partnerships. “The trails themselves are on leash, but the off-leash areas are substantial, including flat open areas that are commonly used right now.”
Still, dog lovers, see its restrictions as overly severe.
“It’s far more restrictive than we ever would have imagined,” said Martha Walters, chairwoman of the Crissy Field Dog Group. “We feel very betrayed by the Park Service, especially after all these years working with them in a cooperative manner. There is no scientific basis for this radical change.”
Recreation area officials said the changes are needed because of the increasing number of visitors — they now number about 14.5 million a year — and their conflicting recreational pursuits. Naturalists and bird-watchers, for instance, often complain about dogs trampling vegetation, frightening birds and harassing wildlife.
Adding to complexity of it all is the fact that GGNRA includes 21 locations spread over San Mateo, San Francisco and Marin counties; with 1,273 plant and animal species, some endangered; 1,200 historic structures, including 5 National Historic Landmarks; and 192 recorded archeological sites.
That leads to different doggy rules for different locations. Under the park service’s latest proposal, canines would still be prohibited on East Beach, but they would be allowed on the middle portion of the beach and on the east side of the grassy former air field. Ocean Beach would still be off limits to unleashed dogs everywhere except north of Stairwell 21, which is closest to the Cliff House. Off leash areas would be added to the grassy areas near Bay and Laguna streets, at Fort Mason and at Fort Funston.
Instead of a complete ban on dogs at Muir Beach in Marin County — as originally proposed — leashed dogs would be permitted. The six beaches in Marin County where unleashed dogs are now permitted would be reduced to one — Rodeo Beach.
The GGNRA’s new park, Rancho Corral de Tierra in San Mateo County, near Moss Beach, would allow leashed dogs only on trails next to the communities of El Granada and Montara.
Dog lovers say were expecting more when the park decide to review and reissue a dog management plan.
“People have been walking their dogs off leash on Crissy Field, Baker Beach, Muir Beach and many of these other coastal areas with no problems for generations,” Walters said. “Can you imagine taking your dog to the beach and keeping him on a leash? It doesn’t make any practical sense.”
A 90-day public comment period on the new proposals began Friday and will end Dec. 4, and a series of public meeting will be held in November. ( Nov. 2, at Fort Mason Center, Bldg. D, Fleet Room, in San Francisco; Nov. 4, Farallone View Elementary School in Montara; Nov. 6, Tamalpais High School, Ruby Gym, in Mill Valley.)
The final (yeah, right) plan is expected in late 2015.
(Photo: Crissy Field Beach in San Francisco; by Raphael Kluzniok / The San Francisco Chronicle)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 13th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, comments, dog, dogs, draft, federal, ggnra, golden gate, golden gate national recreation area, leash, leashed, national park service, off-leash, on leash, park service, pets, proposals, public hearings, restrictions, unleashed
Paris, with all its pooch-welcoming restaurants, is generally considered a pretty dog-friendly city, but some think it could do more, particularly when it comes to park space and access to public transportation for canines.
At least 100 dogs and their humans marched outside the Louvre Saturday in a demonstration demanding more of both, the Associated Press reported.
Organizers of the canine-citizen march dubbed “My Dog, My City” estimate about 200,000 dogs live in Paris, but say that the city lacks the dog-friendly public spaces of places like New York, London, Montreal and Brussels.
According to the city’s website, two of Paris’ 20 sections have only one reserved public park space for dogs and both require leashes.
(Photo: Remy de la Mauviniere / Associated Press)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 11th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, demonstration, dog friendly, dogs, france, leashed, march, off-leash, owners, paris, parks, pets, public, public transportation, space
A trooper agreed to tie the dogs to the bumper of a patrol car, but within 30 minutes, the trooper drove off to another call, dragging one of the dogs behind him.
Terry’s dog Lois had to be euthanized after suffering a broken pelvis and spine, according to the Albany Times Union.
The second dog survived.
“The trooper feels terrible,” said State Police Capt. William Keeler. “The owner is rightly upset.”
“I do plan on seeking justice for Lois,” said Terry, who was charged with driving with a suspended licensed. “She was the only innocent victim here.”
The incident happened Saturday as State Police conducted a roadblock to check on whether drivers were wearing seatbelts.
Terry, after he was stopped, was worried his dogs would overheat in his pickup truck, and asked a trooper if they could be let out. Because it was a shaded area, officials said, the trooper tied the dogs to his patrol car’s rear bumper, using the dog’s leashes.
When Terry learned he was being arrested for having a suspended license, he called his parents to pick up the dogs. Authorities said that the trooper, seeing Terry’s family had arrived, assumed they had taken the dogs when he returned to his vehicle and sped off to another call.
“He was under the belief that the dogs had been unsecured,” a state police spokesman said. “He proceeded approximately 10 feet. Unfortunately, the dogs were still secured.”
While the leash of the second dog, Liz, detached as the patrol car pulled away, the leash securing Lois to the patrol car did not. She was pulled under the Ford Crown Victoria cruiser and was run over by its rear wheels.
An internal investigation is being conducted, and the trooper will remain on duty pending its results.
When the accident occurred, Terry was handcuffed in a patrol car parked in front of the one to which his dogs were tied.
“I heard the screech of the car taking off,” he said. “I was in the cop car. There was nothing I could do. I was screaming ‘Get me out of here!’ A cop came over and let me out. I ran over and held Lois. I knew something was wrong. Lois was crying, and her legs weren’t moving,”
Another trooper picked her up and took her and Terry to the Latham Emergency Clinic, where veterinarians recommended euthanasia.
(Photo: Lori Van Buren / Times Union)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 7th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, car, crushed, dogs, dragged, euthanized, james terry, law enforcement, leashed, liz, lois, overheated, patrol, pets, police, roadblock, siberian huskies, state, stop, tethered, tied, traffic, troopers
In fact, he’d prefer it if you’d keep your dog to yourself — out of the park he wants to read in, away from the cafe where he enjoys his Frappuccino, and definitely not in the gym in which he works out.
It was a case of the latter that triggered a well-written, semi-playful, anti-dog diatribe he wrote for Slate last week.
Manjoo argued that dogs are getting too many privileges. He pointed out that not everybody enjoys their presence, cited health hazards they could conceivably pose, and suggested all those people who take their dogs everywhere start leaving them at home.
Not sharing one’s dog? To me, that’s the equivalent of hiding a Van Gogh behind an ironing board in the basement. Or putting a newfound cure for cancer in a time capsule. Or shielding your eyes — just to be safe — from a blazing sunset.
Still, we’d defend Manjoo’s preference to live life without somebody else’s dog in his face. That’s his right. It’s his loss, but it’s also his right.
Manjoo is Slate‘s technology columnist and the author of True Enough: Learning To Live in a Post-Fact Society. So it doesn’t surprise me — he being caught up in all things digital — that he has failed to catch on to or be captivated by the wonder of dogs.
Microchipping aside, dogs and technology are best kept separate. They don’t always get along, maybe because they are the antithesis of each other. Technology may be the cure for everything, but dogs are the cure for technology. We’ll get back to this point, but first let’s look at what Manjoo said — after an unwanted encounter with a Doberman inside his gym.
“The dog came up to me, because in my experience that’s what dogs do when you don’t want them to come up to you. They get up real close, touching you, licking you, theatrically begging you to respond… I guess I was fairly sure he wouldn’t snap and bite me, but stranger things have happened — for instance, dogs snapping and biting people all the time.
“Why was this dog here? And why was no one perturbed that this dog was here?
“…No one was asking because no one could ask. Sometime in the last decade, dogs achieved dominion over urban America. They are everywhere now, allowed in places that used to belong exclusively to humans, and sometimes only to human adults: the office, restaurants, museums, buses, trains, malls, supermarkets, barber shops, banks, post offices… Dogs are frequently allowed to wander off leash, to run toward you and around you, to run across the baseball field or basketball court, to get up in your grill. Even worse than the dogs are the owners, who seem never to consider whether there may be people in the gym/office/restaurant/museum who do not care to be in close proximity to their dogs. …”
Manjoo admits to not being a dog person, but at least — unlike most anti-dog types — he has a sense of humor about it.
“It’s not that I actively despise mutts; I just don’t have much time for them, in the same way I don’t have time for crossword puzzles or Maroon 5,” he writes.
“But here’s my problem: There’s now a cultural assumption that everyone must love dogs. Dog owners are rarely forced to reckon with the idea that there are people who aren’t enthralled by their furry friends, and that taking their dogs everywhere might not be completely pleasant for these folks.”
And seldom, he points out, does anyone whose dog accosts him say they’re sorry.
“… I can promise you she won’t apologize for the imposition. Nor will she ask you if you mind her dog doing what he’s doing. Nor will she pull on its leash, because there won’t be a leash, this being an office, where dogs are as welcome as Wi-Fi and free coffee.”
The same holds true, he notes, at coffee houses.
Here we should point out that the dog pictured atop this post is mine, and that, in the photo, Ace is enjoying an iced coffee product at Starbucks, offered to him by a customer whose behavior indicated she wanted him to visit her table.
When I take Ace to a Starbucks, or most anywhere else, it’s usually pretty apparent who wants to meet him and who doesn’t, and I restrain him accordingly. I don’t have to compile any data or crunch any numbers, I can just tell. It’s not brain surgery, or computer science.
Even though most people go to Starbucks for the free Wi-Fi, or the expensive coffee, I’d estimate about one of two customers wants to meet my dog. Ace — and this isn’t true of every dog — has a way of figuring that out himself, and generally will avoid those who show no interest in him, unless they are in the process of eating a muffin or pastry, in which case he’s willing to overlook the fact they may not be dog lovers.
What makes the numbers even more impressive is that 8 of every 10 customers at your typical Starbucks are under the spell of their computer device and not at all cognizant of what’s going on around them.
Ace is sometimes able to break that spell, at least he does for me.
As for me, I’d rather have access to Fido then Wi-Fi anyday. Fido will soothe me. Wi-Fi will likely, at some point, make me angry and frustrated. Fido will focus me. Wi-Fi will distract me. Wi-Fi will accost me with uninvited and intrusive messages, and send me alerts, and remind me of all the things I need to do today. Fido will remind me all those things aren’t really that important and can wait until tomorrow. Wi-Fi will take me out of the moment; Fido will keep me in it. Wi-fi has no soul. Fido does, and his presence allows our souls – those of us who have them — to be refreshed. Dogs keep us from becoming an entirely manic society.
No one, if I have my laptop on, will want to come up and pet it, except maybe Farhad Manjoo, who — while not having the least bit of interest in my dog — is probably curious about my gigabytes and apps.
On this much I will agree with Manjoo: There are dog owners who seem unaware that not everybody will delight in their dog, oblivious to the fact that some might find their dog annoying and intrusive. Similarly, though, there are parents of children who don’t realize not everybody will delight in their antics. Similarly, too, there are grown-up people who fail to realize that they themselves are annoying and who we’d prefer not to have inflicted upon us.
Unfortunately, we can’t just ban them. Our choices are limited. We could work on being tolerant – of all ages, sizes, shapes and species, despite their noise, intrusiveness and abrasiveness levels. Or we could go somewhere else. Or we could complain.
Sometimes, when visiting a Starbucks or other coffee place, I wonder if I should lodge an official complaint with management about Wi-Fi — objecting to its omnipresence, and how it seems to be turning people into keyboard-pushing zombies.
“No,” I’d say, “I’m not technically allergic to it, but I’m uncomfortable with it near. I’ve had some bad experiences with it. Sometimes it bites people when they least expect it, and I’m pretty sure it harbors germs.”
“But it’s wireless,” the manager might say.
“Exactly,” I’d say with a huff. “Put a leash on it.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 14th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, apps, behavior, cell phones, coffee, common sense, computers, culture, devices, digital, dislike, dog, dog friendly, dogs, dominion, farhad manjoo, fear, gyms, hate, laptops, leash, leashed, love, manners, parks, pets, place, privileges, public, rights, slate, society, starbucks, technology, unleashed
We’re not big on dogs being tethered to anything — posts, parking meters, even, except when necessary, humans.
And, entanglements sometimes being easy to get into and hard to get out of, it’s definitely not a good idea, generally speaking, to leash them to each other.
But this was brief, and supervised, and kinda cute.
Ace was recruited into babysitting duty over the weekend when, on the quatro de Mayo, we went to a Cinco de Mayo party at a former neighbor’s home.
Two other guests brought their little dogs. First came a pipsqueak of a pup named Penny who, after greeting everyone, still had lots of energy to spare. With a fairly busy road nearby, it was suggested Penny be tethered to a somewhat stationary object — namely Ace.
Plus, he was used to being latched to smaller dogs, having shepherded a dachshund friend several times without stepping on him.
Plus, he was so happy to return to his old neighborhood he wasn’t about to dart off, or even saunter off, dragging two little balls of fluff behind him.
Plus, I was watching over it all pretty closely.
Ace didn’t seem to mind the arrangement a bit, and Penny put up with it, sometimes walking along in stride with him. She figured out pretty quickly, when she did try to scoot of on her own, that it was hopeless.
After exploring together, Ace decided to lay down, and Penny settled nearby, finding a stick to chew on.
About then, Charlie arrived, another fluffy little dog — slightly larger than Penny. That led to an energy surge, at least among the smaller, younger dogs, so we decided to hook Charlie to Ace, too.
As Charlie and Penny frolicked, Ace monitored them for a while, then worked the crowd, begging for food and ignoring the occasional little tugs on his harness.
Eventually, Charlie and Penny were freed, and they were so into playing, they didn’t go anywhere, except in tiny circles around each other — ignoring their babysitter entirely.
I think Ace liked briefly having a mission.
Like all good things though, it came to an end.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 8th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, babysitter, babysitting, backyard, charlie, cinco de mayo, dogs, harness, leash, leashed, party, penny, pets, play, supervision, tethered, tethering