Off-leash news for you and your dog each season! Please let us know if you have any suggestions for content. Ideas can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for your consideration.
Lots of off-leash news to share each month! Please let us know if you have any suggestions for content. Ideas can be emailed to email@example.com. Thanks for your consideration.
It was a great year for people and dogs!
Poop Scoop Day Results
A little cold weather couldn’t deter dog people from showing River Park some TLC on Saturday, November 14. Drum roll please…
Yay! There were 31 people who gave up an hour and a half to pick up leftover poop and bits of garbage. Some of our regulars dug in with pails and shovels while others preferred to just use bags. A few people who have never encountered our group efforts, learned about the park culture, grabbed a bag and picked up too!
This time we concentrated on the east side where the grass is longer and just as we suspected, helpers reported finding a few too many piles.
Thanks to everyone for doo-ing more than your share to give River Park the care it deserves. It’s great to scoop before the snow is here to stay.
The Rules of Off-leash Parks
In general, dogs and owners must follow the Responsible Pet Ownership Rules set out by The City of Calgary Animal and Bylaw Services. Here’s a quick summary that applies to us when we use the park:
- Dogs must be licensed as of 3 months old
- Dogs must be under control (even in off-leash areas) and capable of responding to voice, sound or sight commands (fines range from $50 to $100).
- Owners and caregivers must have in their possession the suitable means to pick up their dogs faeces.
- Owners and caregivers must pick up (fines range from $150 to $250).
- The owner and caregiver must ensure a dog doesn’t bark, howl or make other noises that disturb people.
- Chasing pedestrians, cyclists or vehicles (fines range from $50 to $200).
- Causing damage or injury to another animal (fines range from $100 to $250).
- Causing injuries to people (fines range from $100 to $1500).
- Causing death to another animal (fines range from $500 to $1000).
- Dogs must be on leash in parking lots.
Approaching a Messy Situation
We’ve all observed someone who hasn’t noticed their dog pooping. Most times it’s unintentional but the fact is, there’s a missed opportunity to keep the park clean.
Many people struggle with this situation. What to do?
- Do you ignore it and walk on by?
- Do you grumble and pick it up?
- Do you call the person, point it out and hope they pick it up?
If you choose to approach the person, what are some polite, non-confrontational things to say? Maybe a little humour could be helpful. How about the following suggestions?
“Oh my, your dog is leaving a messy situation behind.”
“I just observed your dog scratching around. He seems quite impressed with his output today.”
“Oh dear… that’s a crappy situation.”
“Oh look… Your dog’s end result is over there.”
“Hi there. Looks like you’re on clean-up doo-ty.”
“I spy with my little eye something that is brown.”
“Attention please… Clean up on trail two!”
“Wow, your dog would easily win the prize for biggest output!”
“Whoa, that one would sure make a mess of someone’s shoes.”
“Yikes! That one’s gotta be a two-bagger. Let me know if you need an extra bag.”
“Too bad there’s no prize for largest park deposit but your dog would certainly win!”
“Goodness! How much does your dog eat to have output like that?”
“Your dog just dropped a load big enough to bury a small child.”
Depending on the situation, you could follow up with one of these comments:
- “May I offer you a bag?”
- “Thanks for helping us keep the park clean.”
There are so many ways to approach the subject but we feel these are a few gentle and effective ways to gain compliance. Best wishes with your chosen approach and thanks for your help!
For the Love of Our Dogs
We are so fortunate to have access to a multi-use space that allows off-leash dogs. There are many off-leash parks in Calgary but there’s something really special about River Park. Maybe it’s the view of downtown Calgary and the Elbow River that delights you. Or perhaps you like the variety of trees, gentle grade of the terrain, multitude of benches and access to a port-a-potty. Others love the Cat Margetts memorial area that houses the fountain for dogs and people.
Some of the comments we consistently hear is that it’s so clean and that people who walk dogs at River Park tend to be quite responsible. We also hear that dogs are well behaved and people are super friendly.
Yes, it’s all true. There’s a culture at River Park that’s been nurtured by dog people since acquiring off-leash status in 1987. Dog people love River Park and as a whole, we’re willing to work to maintain our off-leash access. Walking with our dogs is a healthy activity, for dogs and people. The result is a better behaved and well socialized dog – maybe this goes for people too!
On any given day, during any kind of weather, people and dogs can be found walking and playing in River Park. And we want to keep it this way.
If you plan on visiting River Park for the first time or on a regular basis, we hope you’ll join the pack and adopt the culture we’ve worked so hard to maintain. It’s all for the love of our dogs, fellow park users – and of course, the park.
Representation, Goals, Affiliations and More
Leadership team members meet regularly to discuss strategy and tactics. In the early days of meetings for the park (2006 to 2011) it was decided the best tactic was to educate and inform fellow dog owners about respectful and responsible park use.
Ultimately FRPS’ goal is to preserve off-leash access in this multi-use park. FRPS continues to conduct bi-monthly clean-ups and its members do their own efforts on a daily basis.
The leadership team has affiliations with The Southland Natural Park Society, The Friends of Nosehill, The Friends of Bowmont and The Varsity Off-leash Group.
In 2008-2009, Linda and Candice from the leadership team created an off-leash presentation after visiting and researching each of the 141 off-leash areas listed on The City of Calgary’s website. The purpose was to learn about off-leash parks in Calgary and log pros and cons with each one. We were surprised to discover that many parks were near busy roads, were very small or were unusable and undesirable areas.
It was sent to aldermen and Bill Bruce,The City of Calgary Bylaw Director as well as several radio and television stations. The presentation along with an off-leash advocacy speech was presented by Linda and Candice to the Standing Policy Committee at City Hall early in 2009.
Off-leash History at River Park
Fortunately for dog enthusiasts, River Park gained off-leash status around 1987 as a result of Calgary Alderman Barb Scott, as she was a person with dog-related interests.
In 1987, Kate Currey, a local resident and dog person noticed fellow dog people were at times negligent about cleaning up after their dogs. She started a group of concerned dog people who began holding clean up efforts in the park.
Among Kate’s group of supporters was Candice Lee, a fellow dog person and local resident. Candice happened to have a large network of dog friends at River Park who gathered at various times for walks, supported clean ups and also socialized outside of the park. By the late 1990’s Candice’s group had grown to approximately 200 people.
In 2007 Candice learned about potential paving of trails and reduction of space affecting off-leash access in River Park. She discovered people from competing interest groups in the park had been meeting since 2006 about various matters. As the only dog representative, Candice was invited to the table early in 2007. As a result of this new direction, Candice’s group morphed into the Friends of River Park Society (FRPS) with an elected six-member leadership team. Followers grew to over 800 email addresses, representing single and multiple person households.
Meetings continued where competing interest groups expressed four main concerns:
- Poor behaviour (dogs and their people)
- Over-use (focus to reduce amount of dogs in the park)
- Lack of maintenance
- Feces left by negligent dog people
The FRPS leadership team immediately addressed concerns by educating fellow dog owners about competing interest groups’ concerns, influencing behaviour of people and dogs, and keeping the park clean. Candice’s group began clean-up efforts every second month throughout each year.