Wednesday, January 30, 2008

So what's new with the Rocky Run?

And more to the point, what isn't?

Answering the second question first--as you may have already gathered, we aren't getting our double gates anytime soon. Jerry Culligan (whose dog Max is a much-loved regular at the run) spent quite a bit of time talking to the Parks Department workers responsible for getting those gates in, and was assured the work would be finished before the really cold weather set in, making the ground too hard to work with.

Yeah, they're probably not gonna make it.

Come the spring, Jerry will get right back to bugging them to give us our gates (which we should have had from the start, but no point dwelling on that now). In the meantime, we just have to go on being extra-careful going in and out of the run.

Jerry, in case you didn't know, was the one who put the current easy-to-use latches on
the gates, replacing the old "loop the chain over the fencepost" system we used to have, and fixing it so we could utilize both entrances.

He was also involved in the answer to the first question--what's new--namely the big padlocked plastic storage bin that's been put in near the western edge of the run.

It will have its uses in the future, but at present there's very little in there, other than a rake. And even so, there have reportedly been several attempts to break into it. I suppose somebody thought that's where we keep our golden jewel-encrusted dog collars? They thought Leona Helmsley's Maltese has a safe deposit box there?

Jerry installed the bin himself, but funds to purchase it were donated by a local business that is using the run, and that brings us to another little point of recent interest.

Maybe two weeks back, Yolanda took our Max to the run in the afternoon, and was surprised to see what she figured to be about 15 dogs in there--and only two people, one of whom she knew from previous visits, and she also knew which dog was associated with that person. She didn't know the other person, or any of the other dogs. Some of those other dogs seemed a bit aggressive towards Max when they were sniffing each other through the fence, so she decided not to go inside.

Turns out there are at least two 'doggie daycare' outfits using the run on weekday afternoons. It works like this--you give them keys (and money, of course). They come to your place. They pick up your dog. They put your dog in a van, along with all the other dogs they picked up (I'm not clear on what the maximum number of pooches involved would be). They drive all the dogs to the run, take them inside, and the dogs take it from there. At the end of the workday, you come home to a dog who doesn't give you that "I've been stuck in here all day and now it's time to go out and have fun!" look. Personally, I like that look, and all that follows from it, but I'm weird--and my job doesn't involve working late.

This all happens somewhere between 12-2pm, apparently. I haven't had a chance to talk to people involved with either business, or to see them using the run, or find out what they do if they both want to use the run at the same time, but I've talked to people who have communicated with them, and I haven't heard anything terribly dire. I'm going to try and find out more, and to photograph some of their visits, and assess how good a job they're doing with the dogs.

This is a growing phenomenon, nationwide, and hardly unique to our run--which is, of course, located on public land, meaning that it's not really 'ours'--and I will mention again that at least one of these businesses has shown a willingness to contribute to the upkeep of the run (and the other one, so far as I know, has not). I haven't heard about any serious problems connected with them--which is not to say I haven't heard of any problems at all. If anybody has had any experiences with them, positive or negative, I'd be interested in hearing from you. And if somebody involved with either of these two services reads this, I'd be interested in hearing from you too. You're part of our community, and you have a right to be heard. As the rest of us have a right to ask questions.

This has been going on for a while, and it's certainly nothing to panic about, and the run is little-used on workday afternoons, as I'm sure the owners of these businesses would remind us. My gut reaction, right or wrong, is something along the lines of--

1)People should find the time to exercise their own dogs whenever possible. Of course a lot of people do basically the same thing with their kids, though you don't usually have one person watching 15-20 toddlers at a playground, and most toddlers can't run 30mph. We need dogsitters and dog walkers, and they need to make a decent living, and it's obviously easier to run a profitable business if you take care of a whole lot of dogs at once, but--

2)--geez, that's a whole lot of dogs for one person to keep an eye on, isn't it? I mean, Cesar Freakin' Millan doesn't work with that many dogs at once, unless it's his own personal pack. How many directions can one person look at once? What happens if two fights break out at opposite ends of the run? What happens if a dog jumps the fence and runs off, and the person minding the dogs has to choose between watching him run away, or going after him, and leaving all the other dogs unattended? Etc. Etc.

Anyway, if you have the day off, and you take your dog to the run, and there's a big bunch of dogs, and one or two people, you'll know what's going on.

Finally, a very late and well-deserved thank you to Norma (Cheyenne's person) who went to some trouble to decorate the run fence for the holidays.

There simply isn't anyone who's contributed more to the run than Norma. And there's no dog who decorates the run better than Cheyenne. And just give me another day or so, and I'll get up some pictures of her and some other regulars, enjoying the run. With their own actual people watching them. Fancy that.

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