A-DOG in the 2013 Arlington Patriots Day Parade!

A-DOG marched in the Patriot’s Day Parade for the third year today, April 14, 2013.  Thank-you to everybody who joined us!

 

Join us for the 2014 Patriots Day Parade!  It will be held this year on Monday, April 21 at 9:30 a.m.  If you’d like to join us, you can sign up here.  If you have trouble with the form, contact us at arlingtondogowners@gmail.com.

 

Membership Drive! Please Join or Renew Today to Support A-DOG!

Dear A-DOG MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS,

Thank you for the support you’ve given A-DOG during our first 7 years! It is now time to renew your A-DOG membership, so that we can continue our mission. (And, to supporters who have not yet joined, please join us!)  Renewals are due April 1 of each membership year. A-DOG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, so your membership dues are tax deductible to the extent allowable by law.  If you joined last year with our new 2-year option, you do not have to do a thing, of course!  If you accidentally “join” again, we will extend your membership another year and send you a new card.

JOINING AND RENEWAL IS EASY

*** NEW DUES OPTION ***

You always have the option to join or renew for two years at $35. Or you can continue to renew for one year at $20.

Simply go to Join A-DOG or, if you prefer, print and mail our renewal form. You can renew as a full paid member or an associate member.

In May 2008, A-DOG was established with a mission that includes promoting responsible dog ownership and advocating for the rights and interests of Arlington dog owners.

A-DOG’s accomplishments include:

  • Successful advocacy leading to off-leash recreational activities for dogs in Arlington where, when we were first founded, there were NO legal off-leash options. A-DOG’s advocacy resulted in: a new bylaw allowing off-leash morning hours in many Arlington parks; and a new fenced dog park at Thorndike Field
  • Educational programs including on therapy dogs, canine first aid/CPR, and dog training and behavior, including “Dog Park Etiquette”
  • Social events such as our annual “Whine and Wine” wine tasting party at Menotomy Beer and Wine
  • Opportunities for our  members to participate in fun community events such as our Town Day booth and annual march, with our dogs, in the Arlington Patriots Day parade
  • A monthly email newsletter, Wags and Tags, encouraging contributions from all our members and supporters!
  • Friends of A-DOG businesses who offer discounts and promotions to our members

WHY JOIN A-DOG OR RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP?

“We need your support to continue to offer exciting educational and social programs.  The Town has recently hired a new K9 Recreation Activity Director, Daria Pannesi!  We look forward to working with Daria, our Animal Control Officer, Amanda Kennedy and others to bring new programs to Arlington dog owners and their supporters. Many dog owners would like a second fenced dog park in Arlington, since the first one has been so popular. And, unfortunately, there will always be pressure from opponents to return to restrictive leash laws.  So, we must continue our strong advocacy.

With your involvement and support, A-DOG can continue to carry out our mission, to keep Arlington a wonderful place for all of us, including our canine family members!”

YOUR  MEMBERSHIP IS CRUCIAL…………

Thank you in advance for your support,

A-DOG Membership Committee

 

Arlington Patriot’s Day Parade 2012

For the second year in a row, A-DOG members and their dogs marched in the Arlington Patriot’s Day Parade!

Here are some photos (click on each for a larger view):

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the A-DOG Website Front Page

Featured

 

Arlington Dog Owners Group, or A-DOG, is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) community organization celebrating the canine-human bond!  Since 2008, A-DOG has represented the rights and interests of responsible dog owners in Arlington, MA.

“I love A-DOG! Always will!” — Carrie M., Arlington

Read what else  our members have to say about A-DOG!

See some of our dogs!

Join the A-DOG group on Facebook, just for fun and to stick together!

Shop for A-DOG products!

Support the Thorndike Dog Park in Arlington!

Copyright 2008 – 2016, Arlington Dog Owners Group, all rights reserved

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WHAT’S NEW:

  • Membership:  Be an A-DOG member — join or renew today!  Details.
  • A-DOG Meetings 4th Tuesday evenings at 6:30 pm, at Jefferson Cutter House Community Room, Arlington Center unless otherwise announced. We have 4 meetings per year (January, March, May, July and October, plus a Town Day planning session in August). Mark your calendars and join us! Usually, our meetings are 1 to 1.5 hr (beginning at 7:00) with refreshments and visiting beforehand (doors open at ~6:30 pm).
  • Future fun in 2018: More great events are coming up this year, including our 2nd annual FIDO Fest outdoor dog video festival! Make sure you join us for our events or at least sign up (below) for the Wags and Tags newsletter, to be kept in the loop!

A-DOG Members get our fun, informative newsletter Wags and Tags.  We hope you will join us!  But, if you are not a member and want to sign up for Wags and Tags anyway, just click the green button:

 

Get Wags and Tags!

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ARLINGTON DOG RECREATION HIGHLIGHTS

    •  Morning off-leash recreation is now allowed at several Arlington parks.  An A-DOG sponsored Town Meeting Article (Art. 36, 2010) made this bylaw change possible!  (see Animal Control bylaws and search “Article 36” for more history.)  Regulations for off-leash hours are on the town website. Your dog MUST be under control and, even during legal hours, should not run up to people or other dogs that do not want to be approached.
    • Thorndike OLRA, Arlington’s first dedicated fenced dog park is now open and is very popular with dog owning families and with people who love to bring their children to visit the dogs!.  Check here to join our community and support the dog park, and the town website for regulations and other key information. Please make sure you have a dog that is friendly to other dogs before bringing her to the dog park!
    • Leash law:  otherwise, dogs not on their owners’ property must be walked on a 6-foot leash.  (see Canine Control bylaws)

 

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THE A-DOG WEBSITE BELONGS TO ALL OF US — PLEASE CONTRIBUTE YOUR COMMENTS TO OUR CONTENT!

Welcome to our website! Please read our articles and enter comments wherever you’d like (there is a comment section after each article).  We ask that you not post anonymously but that, instead, you sign your name, to encourage the most constructive dialog possible in our community. The comments are moderated and we reserve the right to not publish comments for certain reasons, such as no email provided. (This email address is visible to the moderators but not to the public viewing the site.) If a comment seems particularly rude and disrespectful, we reserve the right not to publish it and will try to inform the author by email with a chance to revise it. We will, however, do our best to allow, and encourage, comments representing all points of view on issues of relevance to our articles.

We welcome submissions of articles on relevant topics. If you’d like to write an article for this website and/or our Wags and Tags Newsletter, please contact us at the email given below with your proposal. Unlike comments, however, we will not publish articles written under a “nom de plume”unless there is a good reason for the anonymity

Feel free to contact us at <arlingtondogowners@gmail.com> with questions, feedback, article proposals, or any other inquiry.

Board of Selectmen vote “No Action” on Article 24

Arlington’s Board of Selectmen (BoS) held a final hearing on Article 24, to enable the Park and Recreation Commission (PRC) to establish off-leash hours from 6 pm to park closing. The Selectmen voted unanimously to support “no action” on this article at Town Meeting. Town Meeting may still pass this Article, but without support of the Selectmen. Without their support, it will be an uphill battle.

 

Article 24 Background

The proponents of Article 24, represented by its sponsor, one of us (M.H.), put forth a warrant article for the 2012 Town Meeting with the same wording as the 2010 Article 36, which allowed morning off-leash recreation hours. The proposed language of Article 24 would allow evening off-leash recreation on:  “lands under control of the Park and Recreation Commission except: A. those lands directly contiguous to school properties; B. within 15 feet of playground equipment; C. by specific exclusion of the Park and Recreation Commission.”

 

This language was recommended by PRC, and allows the PRC complete flexibility in establishing, modifying, or discontinuing off-leash hours to respond to evolving community needs. Proponents of Article 24 met with the PRC Chair before putting forth the article for approval and language and scheduled discussion with the full PRC shortly thereafter. Proponents also stated that they would not bring forth the Article if PRC didn’t feel the timing was appropriate or had any other reservations about implementing evening off-leash hours.

 

Procedural History

Warrant Article 24 was submitted to Town Warrant with the signatures of 10 registered Arlington residents, as required.

 

Feb 27, 2012: First BoS hearing on Article 24. PRC provided a short paragraph to BoS on the Article. The BoS decided to postpone consideration of this Article to allow the PRC more time to provide more detailed information. On Feb 27, members of the public, who had waited until after 9 pm, were not allowed to speak after the sponsoring proponent. It was our impression that we would be able to participate at the next hearing.

 

Mar 26, 2012: Second BoS hearing on Article 24: PRC provided a 2-page response to Article 24, indicating support for the Article. Again, the Article came up late on the Agenda, and the supporters of the Article waited past 9pm for an opportunity to talk. Again, the sponsoring proponent was allowed to speak, but the BoS refused to allow any other members of the public to speak saying “This isn’t a hearing” and “We already know what you’re going to say.”  The BoS unanimously voted “No Action” on Article 24.  See the video for the full discussion.
(A link to obtain the PRC’s 2-page memo and a link to a video of the hearing appear at the end of this article.)

 

In their memo to the BoS, the PRC also recognized the community interest in off-leash hours, and said the article, if passed, would be “very workable.” The memo anticipated a more limited number of parks, as compared to the morning hours, and perhaps seasonal restrictions.  But, as is appropriate, the PRC memo explained that specific details (e.g. which parks, which times of year) would not be determined until there was a transparent public input process, involving dog owners and other concerned users of each potential park. This was exactly the kind of process used to establish the morning off-leash hours, after the Article 36 substitute motion (with wording analogous to that shown above) passed at TM in 2010. Allowing discretion on off-leash recreation by a Park and Recreation Commission, or its equivalent, is in keeping with its typical role. For example, Brookline’s Green Dog Plan is allowed by a general bylaw that leaves the park-specific details, including the hours, to its Park and Recreation Commission.

 

Even though Article 36 passed in 2010, and had been supported by the PRC, the BoS had voted “no action” (4 to 1).  The passage of the Article at TM was very close, and we believe this was in part because of the lack of BoS support.

 

At the March 26 Hearing all five Selectmen were present, and each presented his or her reasons for voting  “no action.” Next to each objection are the arguments of Article 24 proponents, who would have raised these in response had we been given a chance to speak.

 

–        Too soon (Dunn, Rowe and LaCourt): Matter of personal opinion—has been 2 years since Article 36 passed, this one goes either way

–        Too much pressure on PRC (Rowe): PRC has indicated support, and did not tell Article 24 proponents that this was either too soon or too much pressure when asked.

–        Positive action not supported by PRC (Greeley): We disagree—memo indicates community need for evening hours, calls plan “workable”, and suggests acceptable wording for a motion

–        Plan not detailed enough (Mahon, Rowe): Plan is detailed exactly as Article 36, which PRC has implemented and considers a successful program. BoS seem not to trust their PRC with the responsibility to implement this program, as has been done in Arlington and other towns. In addition, having a more detailed plan in the bylaws would render evening hours less flexible, reduce discretion of PRC, and would require act of Town Meeting to change.

 

In addition, at the Feb 27 Hearing, this argument was also raised:

–        Warrant Article should be submitted by PRC, not by 10 Registered Voters: This argument is puzzling, at best. Arlington’s bylaws allow warrant articles to be submitted by the public, and indeed, every year many articles appear before TM that are submitted by 10 Registered Voters, on everything from leaf blowers to chickens.

 

While their reasons for voting “no action” were stated, at least one Selectman supported the idea of evening off-leash hours, and others were supportive of bringing the issue before Town Meeting.

 

The Selectmen have a practice of holding public hearings on Warrant Articles, but have not been consistent in allowing the public to speak, as was evident at the hearings that evening. We would have liked the opportunity to be heard on this issue. We note that, in addition, dozens of our members wrote letters in support of Article 24 to the BoS, but that there was no “correspondence received” for this Article as there often is for others.

 

Please watch the video of the final Article 24 BoS hearing and judge for yourself.
Also, see the PRC’s 2-page memo here

 

 

by A-DOG Members:

 

S. Doctrow (TMM, Pct 21), J. Goebel  (TMM (2008-2010), Pct 21), A. Goldstein (TMM, Pct 14), M. Henning (TMM, Pct 19), and R. Varghese

Thorndike fenced dog park coming soon — Update: it’s open!!

The photos above shows the site of Arlington’s new fenced dog park, taken in mid-April during construction. It was open in May, 2012 and is now very popular!  (thanks to Arlington resident Larry Krupp for sending us these photos — we will post more current photos of the open dog park soon!)

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Fenced dog parks in Arlington have been allowed by law since 2003, but have not yet been established.  At A-DOG’s request, the Town, through its Recreation Department and Park and Recreation Commission, formed a Dog Park Task Force, that began  meeting in 2009, with at least three fenced dog parks on it’s “wish list”.  Through a generous grant to Arlington from the Stanton Foundation, our first fenced dog park, at Thorndike Field in East Arlington, has become a reality!  Visit the dog park today with your well-socialized dog to enjoy the agility elements (tunnels and “dog walk”) and running and wrestling with new doggy buddies.  There is, also, a separate fenced area for small dogs, puppies, or others whose owners might choose to keep them away from the main action.

Below, we publish an article by Bette Yip, whose Arlington based business, Picture Perfect Pets, is a “Friend of A-DOG”. Bette described how the dog park would be coming soon to Arlington, and how we can all work together to make it a success!  (This was originally published as her “Weekly Yip” column in the Arlington Patch).

As Bette points out, A-DOG has organized a Friends of Thorndike Dog Park group of users and supporters. Contact A-DOG to learn more.

Facebook users: Join our Friends of Thorndike Dog Park page!

For regulations and other information please see the Arlington Recreation Department website. Comments and suggestions may be directed to Joe Connelly, Director of Recreation via the Town site.

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Arlington’s First Fenced Dog Park

Here are some ways you can help to make it a success for our town.

by Bette Yip

For as long as I’ve been an Arlington business owner, there has been talk about the possibility of a fenced dog park one day being built in our town. In fact, Town Meeting voted to allow fenced dog parks in 2003, I was reminded when I recently sat down to discuss our current dog park situation with Sue Doctrow of the Arlington Dog Owners Group (A-DOG) who is also a member of Arlington’s Dog Park Task Force. Still, at times, the notion of a fenced dog park in Arlington has felt more like a fantasy than a possibility. Now, almost a decade after Town Meeting voted to allow fenced dog parks in Arlington, that’s all about to change. Thorndike Dog Park is currently under construction, and is expected to open sometime this spring.

 

The road leading to this point has been long. Doctrow explained that Arlington established The Dog Park Task Force in 2010 to identify potential sites, designs & costs for fenced dog parks in town. Last year, a generous donation from the Stanton Foundation made construction of our first dog park a reality. Considering what a struggle it’s been to get this fenced dog park, it’s all the more critical that we all do our part to ensure its success.

 

Here are some ways dog owners can help:

 

  • Know your dog, and be realistic about whether a fenced-dog park is the right socialization and exercise option for your particular dog. Some dogs love to play with other dogs in groups. Others prefer long walks with their humans in places where they may encounter and briefly socialize with a variety of other dogs, but probably wouldn’t linger long to frolic as a pack. Still others prefer the company of humans and do better when kept away from areas where unleashed dogs might approach them. If your dog might not play well with others in a fenced dog-park, a different type of recreation might be a better and safer fit.
  • Familiarize yourself with and obey the posted rules. The town and the Dog Park Task Force are in the process of finalizing the rules which will be clearly posted once the park opens.
  • Learn to read canine body language. When a dog asks another dog for space but doesn’t get it, trouble could erupt. Dogs use intricate and subtle body language to communicate with one another. If you know what you’re looking for, you can read the conversation among dogs, and better anticipate when you should intervene in their interactions to prevent scuffles. There are a number of great resources available on this subject. Two I like are a DVD set from Sarah Kalnajs called The Language of Dogs and a book by Robin K. Bennett & Susan Briggs called Off-Leash Dog Play : a Complete Guide to Safety and Fun. As I looked up links to these resources, I came across another promising book with good reviews titled Visiting the Dog Park : Having Fun, Staying Safe by Cheryl Smith.
  • Brush up on your dog’s training. “Come when called” is perhaps the most critical skill to work on. I also find these additional cues very useful: Red Light/Green Light (meaning stop and focus on me/now you’re free to frolic), Leave It, Sit/Freeze and Down/Freeze (Freeze is my version of Stay).
  • Contact A-DOG about joining Friends of Thorndike Dog Park. This is a group for users and other supporters of the dog park. It will work with the town to set fundraising goals, organize volunteer efforts, etc. to ensure the long-term success of the park.

 

It’s so exciting to think that our first dog park will probably be open within a matter of months! This will be a big boost to quality of life for many Arlington dogs and their owners. I have high hopes that park visitors will rise to the responsibility this amazing new privilege brings.

Wine Tasting for A-DOG at Menotomy Beer and Wine

Everybody had a great time at the A-DOG Wine Tasting Party at Menotomy Beer and Wine (80 Broadway St., Arlington) on the evening of June 15. Thanks so much to all the organizers, especially Roslyn and Ann Smith and Susan Ruderman. And, many thanks to Menotomy Beer and Wine, a Friend of A-DOG for hosting the event for A-DOG members and their dogs! Drawing prizes were donated by several A-DOG members and by Lakota Bakery, Arlington Heights. Delicious refreshments were donated by our hosts. Members brought dog food to be donated to Pound Hounds, to help feed shelter dogs. Don’t forget, members, when you buy your wine at Menotomy Beer and Wine tell them you’re with A-DOG and 5% will be donated to A-DOG.

Why Members Support A-DOG!

On our membership form, we ask our members why they choose to support A-DOG. You can add your own reasons in the Comments section!

If you sent us a comment on your membership form, and don’t see it here, let us know.  We might have missed it our you might not have checked “Yes” for permission to quote.  But, we want everybody to be included who wants to be!

Here, with their permission, is what our members are saying:

2015:

“Just moved to Arlington, A-DOG seems like a great group!”

Carly and Matt C., Arlington

2014:

“LOVE that there is an organization here in town advocating for dogs and dog owners. The off leash opportunities to socialize our 4 legged family members is so important, I hope that there will be more all around town someday.”

Melanie C. and Ed W., Arlington

“I assume this is a good way to stay informed on all dog related happenings in/around Arlington.”

Jessica G., Arlington

“I think it’s great that there’s a group in town for dog-owners, given that there are so many of us and lots of issues that go with. Maybe I’ll learn something and have opportunities to give and receive support!”

Suzy and Chris N., Arlington

“Great program at Robbins Library last night!”

Jess W. and Gabi T., Arlington

“To support and promote quality of life for dogs and their owners.”

Eileen O., Arlington

“Because I love my dog and am happy there is a group in town to support and connect dog owners.”

— Jennifer J., Arlington

“I support A-Dog to support the our dogs, who are an important part of our community.  I especially want to advocate for access to green space for our dogs.  Thanks!…”

— Dorothy H., Arlington

“I have been coming to the dog park since I first got my puppy (a little less than a year ago). Great place, great dogs, and nice responsible dog owners.  I wish we had a dog park in Lexington.”

— Sean and Donald M., Lexington

“As Roger Caras, former president of the ASPCA says, “Dogs are not our whole lives, but make our lives whole.” Companion animals bring so much to a community as well as to a home, and I proudly support organizations such as A-DOG that foster community activism on behalf of our companion animals, as well as support responsible canine caretaking (I don’t like to say “pet ownership”). 

A huge step would be to work with Arlington landlords on allowing people to rent with dogs. When my partner and I moved here from Somerville two years ago, we were able to find exactly one — ONE! — apartment (in our price range … there are very expensive ones available) here in Arlington that would accept a dog.”

— Janice Z. and Rob K., Arlington

2013:

” I love my dog, Cozmo, and I’m a new resident of Arlington.  I moved to this town from Boston, which is a surprisingly un-dog-friendly city.  It would be nice to be connected to events and opportunities to have fun w Cozmo while making it possible to better the well being of others’ furry friends!”

Lindsey Z., Arlington 

“Our company fetch(.) is a family and locally owned and operated labor of love.  We’ve been in business in Somerville, Cambridge and Arlington for two years and have a growing list of clients who use and love the Thorndike Off-Leash Rec Area.  We take our own pup, Gracie, the Frenchie there as well and would really love to become more integrated in what we see as one of the most involved, responsible, and hard-working canine communities around.”

Mel R. and Michelle B., Somerville 

“I respect what A-DOG has done to improve awareness of dog training and the responsibilities of canine ownership. I’m interested in programs like Me & My Dog fitness course; also potentially interested in agility training and competition. I have a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, born Nov. 9, 2012.”

Charlotte P., Arlington

“I [went] to the Dog Park meeting the other night and was impressed.”

Dianne S., Arlington

“My husband and I are excited to be new home owners in Arlington and now new puppy owners as well! We look forward to meeting other dog lovers in the community and socializing our good little girl, Penny with her new dog neighbors.”

Joanna H., Arlington

“I am a brand new dog owner and thrilled to find this group.  I feel like I was just invited into a new world with new rules, as a dog owner.  I have had cats for years (and love them dearly) but this dog world is far more social and complex!!”

Sonia and Jean-Francois H., Arlington

“I’m a life-long dog lover and a newish dog owner to Maisie, a mischievous Scottish Terrier who will be one year old in May.”

— Margaret P. and Wilbur K., Arlington 

“New resident to Arlington, excited to see the dog park efforts and community!”

— Melissa and Bohdar H., Arlington

“I’ve been hoping to join ever since I received your first mailing……Especially recently, in support of the Thorndike dog park, I hope to include our voice in the importance of our dogs in our community. They are family in our household. I look forward to maintaining a membership with A-Dog. Thanks for the opportunity Joan.”

— Melanie C. and Ed W., Arlington

“I like receiving the A-Dog email updates, and especially appreciate  the work done to enact and support the …..offleash program in Arlington (of which I benefit).  Also, I do not think the dog park at Thorndike would have become a reality without the dedication of A-dog members.  It is projects like the dog park that emphasize how useful an association like A-Dog is.  Thanks for all that you do.”

— Gayle N., Arlington

“Thank you for the work you do for pet owners in Arlington. There is power with solidarity.”   — Janet D., Arlington

” LOVE off-leash hours at Turkey Hill.
HATE neighbors who don’t pick up after their dogs ……(and who give the rest of us a bad name)
Wish to support legal off-leash alternatives for those of us who obey the law!”                      –Ruth S., Arlington

“A-DOG brought off leash hours to Arlington, which is a life-changing difference for me and my dogs.  A-DOG continues to advocate for dogs and their people and works to enhance the human-dog relationship in Arlington.”
— Ellen D., Arlington

“I appreciate the work A-DOG and its members have done on behalf of dog owners in Arlington to help establish off-leash hours in our town parks and through its activities attracting the support needed to fund and build the Thorndike Off-leash Recreation Area.  There is still much work that needs to be done to help address additional needs for off-leash recreation for those that are unable to use the morning hours.”                                             — Robin V., Arlington

2008 – 2012:

“I have been reading a lot about dogs, about their need for early socialization, how much better they do when they have good training and time to be off-leash. I see so many people treating their dogs badly and I want to support responsible ownership. I’m getting a dog very soon and I’m happy that there is now a dog-park and many places that are dog friendly.”

Christine A., Arlington

“We love our dog and our community!”

Allison and Andy S., Arlington 

 “Thanks for all the things you do for all the dogs and dog owners here in Arlington.”

— Cris S.C. and Manuel M., Arlington

“We just got our little mini-schnauzer puppy and would like to know about different events and activities for dogs in the area. We would also like to have her socialize with other dogs.”

— Julie S. and Dustin T., Arlington

 

“We are moving to Arlington in July and have a dog.  We’ve heard it’s been a struggle to allow off leash and other basic dog enjoyment regulations to proceed.  We love the new dog park!”

— David V. and Sarah R., Arlington

 

“I’d like to think that Arlington is a dog friendly place but haven’t always felt that way in the few years I’ve lived here.  That’s why it’s heartening to see organizations like A-Dog which support dog ownership.  I just lost Winston, one of my dogs, and as painful as that is, I’d like to do as much as I can to support other dogs and dog owners.  I know he would have liked that.”

— Deborah G., Arlington 

 

“Among other things, we are looking for a community that understands the bond between members of a human/canine family……” 

— Brett G. and Deborah F., Arlington

 “Dogs do so much for us, it’s nice if we can give them good places to play off leash with their friends!”

— Pamela S., Medford

“We just adopted a rescue dog, and would love to give him a chance to run around outside in a fenced in area, off leash.”

— Angela and David S., Arlington

“Five or more days a week my friends and our dogs enjoy an off-leash romp at Turkey Hill.  Thank you for making this possible and legal.”

— Ruth S., Arlington

“The off-leash hours that A-DOG helped establish has created a nice community of neighbors at our local park, in addition to making our dog more sociable and better behaved.  We’ve changed our morning routine to be a part of this community.”

— Amy G. and Doug G., Arlington

 

“I really appreciate the value of dogs in our lives and how to establish “rights” and environments to meet their needs to just be DOGS!”

Ellen C., Arlington

 

“We love Arlington and love our dog.  We want to support ways to enjoy both!”

–Heather and David A., Arlington 

 

“The off leash hours are life-changing. I so appreciate the advocacy for dogs and their people. The leadership is sophisticated and strategic–needed when issues are charged.”

— Ellen D., Arlington

“You all do such a great job supporting dogs and their families in arlington!!”

— Michele S., Arlington

“for all of the hard work and persistence in getting off leash hours passed and keeping us informed about dog related town-wide concerns”

— Louisa B., Arlington

“I am excited to learn more about the possibility of a dog park in Arlington!”

— Margaret M., Arlington

“We support A-DOG because we enjoy being able to enjoy the parks with our dog Estella during off leash hours and think it’s important that this continue to be allowed.”

— Dustin and Ellen T., Arlington

“We need to speak up for the voiceless and that includes all animals.”

— Heather B., Arlington

“Every dog needs a support system. I think the work you do is so important to our dogs and our own mental and physical health. Thanks so much!”

— Pam H., Arlington


“I thought A-DOG did and continues to do a great job of working on behalf of all of the dogs and dog owners in Arlington.  I am particularly appreciative of all of the work you did and continue to do to help obtain and maintain off leash hours for dogs in this town.”


— Louisa B., Arlington


“What you’ve done and are doing is impressive and important – we and our dogs want to be a more active part of it!”

— Roma H., Arlington


“I love A-DOG! Always will!”

— Carrie M., Arlington


“Pets are important members of our community. Responsible pet ownership is essential.”

— Janet D., Arlington


“LOVE the off-leash hours at Turkey Hill and use them daily. Time to support the great group that made this happen and be in the loop.”

— Ruth S., Arlington


“I want to keep Arlington dog friendly!”

– – Gian S., Arlington, MA


“I love animals, and two of my best friends are Becker and Candace, my friend Sue’s wonderful companions.”

– – Alma G., Arlington, MA


“While I understand where opponents of off-leash dogs are coming from, many of them are against every proposed solution, so it’s important that responsible dog owners can present a united front.  I can’t wait for the fenced dog park, which I don’t think would be happening if A-DOG didn’t exist!  I’d also love evening or weekend off-leash hours (since the morning hours don’t work for me). I strongly prefer off-leash locations places with some sort of visual barrier between the dog area and other uses, even if it’s not a real fence — just something to help my dog know where the limit is).”

– – Riley H., Arlington


“As a new resident, I have found dog owners to be the most welcoming and inviting members of the Arlington community!”

– – Meghan H., Arlington


“I support A-Dog because I believe that Arlington residents who own dogs should be responsible and educated about town bylaws and plans for dog parks, etc. A-Dog does a great job of getting messages out to Arlington’s dog-owning community.”

– – Jennifer G., Arlington


“I feel strongly about exercising my rights as a responsible dog owner. I am also concerned with the well-being of my dog who needs active off-leash play time to be healthy.”

— Gene L., Arlington


“Because dogs have feelings and needs too.”

— Keith P., Arlington


“I support A-DOG because canine citizens are an important part of our community. Dogs enrich our lives, and A-DOG makes it easier to be a dog owner in Arlington.”

— Susan R., Arlington


“We are very interested in having areas for our dog to run and play right here in our town! We are responsible dog owners and are happy to join a group of like-minded individuals!”

— Maureen L., Arlington

 

 

Substitute Motion on Article 36: Early Morning Off-Leash Recreation Under Certain Conditions

A Substitute Motion on Article 36 was submitted to Town Meeting, along with a supporting report written by a few of the (ever-increasing!) number of A-DOG members who are elected Town Meeting Members. It is expected to come up for a vote as early as May 3. The Report, including the text of the Substitute Motion, is reprinted here:

We support the following Substitute Motion under Article 36:

To amend Section 8 (“Animal Control”) of Article 1 (“Use of Areas under Control of Park Department”) of Title IV (“Public Areas”) and/or Article 2 (“Canine Control”) of Title VIII (“Public Health and Safety”) of the By-Laws so as to allow a maximum of three dogs per owner to be off-leash, under effective owner control, from park opening time until 9 am, in all lands under control of the Parks and Recreation Commission except:

  • those lands directly abutting school properties;
  • within 15 ft of playground equipment;  and
  • by specific exclusion of the Parks and Recreation Commission.

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The Board of Selectmen (BoS) voted (4-1) “no action” on our proposed motion under Article 36 at its March 22 hearing. The BoS has reported to TM that “behavior of dog-owners who routinely violate the leash law needs to change before a bylaw amendment should be considered again.”  With due respect to those 4 Selectmen, this penalizes responsible dog owners for the actions of the irresponsible few.  As noted by one supporter at the BoS hearing, driver’s licenses are not denied to all because some drivers cause accidents. Another concern voiced by one Selectman at the hearing was that there were no provisions to exclude out of town dog owners.  We respectfully take issue with this concern on two grounds. First, it is unlikely that many dog owners will drive to Arlington from other towns in the early mornings that we propose. And, even if some do, it is questionable that they will have much impact.  Second, our parks are public space.  Some of us from Arlington now use parks in Lexington, where dogs are allowed off leash.  We would hope to extend the same courtesy to our Lexington and other neighbors and, again, doubt that there would be much impact from outsiders at the proposed hours.  The BoS report also advises waiting to see what the Parks and Recreation Commission, through its “Dog Park Task Force” (called the “Green Dog Subcommittee” in the report), decides with respect to fenced off leash recreation areas.  We are very familiar with the work of this Task Force and, in fact, one of us is an appointed member.  As discussed further below, we believe that Article 36 complements the Task Force’s mission.

On April 13, the Parks and Recreation Commission voted unanimously (4-0) to support our proposed bylaw change, noting, for example, its simplicity and reasonableness, as well as its flexibility.  We hope that TM will agree with the Parks and Recreation Commission’s assessment and vote in favor of this Substitute Motion.

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Article 36 FAQ (Summary)

(See the following pages for full discussion)

 

  • Why propose this Article for the third year in a row?  TM transcripts describe the current leash law, enacted in the late 60’s, as being aimed at dogs “at large”, or roaming free. When it is used instead against owner-supervised dog play groups, it prevents dog owners from exercising and socializing their dogs, and from a community activity they themselves enjoy.

 

  • Why propose this Article when TM rejected the Green Dog plan last year?  This vote was narrow (88 opposed, 83 in favor), and the need and demand for legal off-leash recreational options continues.  Feedback from TM included comments that the Green Dog plan was too complex, and that many had favored the amendment to limit hours to mornings (by 10 am).  Article 36 addresses such experience and feedback.

 

  • Why isn’t it enough for dog owners to have the Town working on fenced off leash recreation facilities?  Even though Town has established a “Dog Park Task Force” to address this issue, it is not clear when or if there will be a sufficient number of fenced off leash recreational areas (OLRA) to serve Arlington’s dog owner community. Article 36 acts in parallel to the work of the Dog Park Task Force.

 

  • Why the proposed hours of “park opening time until 9 am”? Arlington parks are used quite sparsely early in the morning. The intent of our proposed hours is to be conservative. In several other MA towns dogs are allowed off-leash, under effective control, in virtually all parks at all open hours.

 

  • Why the phrase “effective owner control”?  This requires that only dogs accompanied by their owner, and under control, would be allowed off-leash. Other MA town bylaws have similar wording (“complete and effective control”, “effective command”, etc.).

 

  • Why “lands under control of the Parks and Recreation Commission”?  These lands would exclude potential areas of concern, including the bike path, Town Hall gardens, cemetery, and conservation land.

 

  • Why “by specific exclusion by the Parks and Recreation Commission”?  This adds flexibility, avoiding the need for specific locations to be debated in TM. It recognizes and respects the role and the authority of Parks and Recreation Commission, appointed to make detailed decisions on use of our public parks.

 

  • Why not propose a pilot plan?  We trust that the Parks and Recreation Commission will act in good faith to implement a flexible bylaw such as this one.  It is essentially a pilot plan anyway, because the Commission can exclude any park, or all parks, at any time.

 

  • What will this cost the Town?  There should be no significant cost to the Town.  We already have an ACO to enforce the leash law, including distributing flyers describing the leash law. With last year’s decision to increase the license fee by up to 50% and impose late fees, dog owners are now being charged more, providing some extra revenue with no increase in privileges.

 

  • Why “a maximum of three dogs”?  For consistency with our town bylaws that allow up to three dogs per household, and with similar limits specified in other off-leash programs.

 

 

 

Article 36 Substitute Motion — Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): 

 

Why propose this Article for the third year in a row?

Based on TM transcripts, major provisions of our current leash law were voted in at TM in the late 60’s. Concern was primarily with dogs “at large”, or roaming free.  It was not intended to be used, as it is today, against owner-supervised dog playgroups, which were uncommon, if not nonexistent, in that era. The behavioral benefits of well-exercised, well-socialized dogs are now well accepted by animal behaviorists, dog trainers and others.  In addition, meeting with their neighbors to exercise and socialize their dogs together is a community activity much enjoyed by dog owners, as the response to A-DOG’s and Green Dog committee efforts has demonstrated.  Over 900 Arlington residents, to date, have signed A-DOG’s petition in favor of off-leash recreation for responsible dog owners in Arlington.  Many other communities in MA and across the nation have recognized the needs of their tax-paying dog-owning residents by modernizing their leash laws.  It is time that Arlington did so, as well – there has been at least 8 years of work on this issue in our town, with no implementation of any off-leash privileges.

 

Why propose this Article when TM rejected the Green Dog plan last year?

The need and demand for legal off-leash recreational options continues.  Last year, with their recommended vote to TM, the BoS indicated approval of the spirit of the Green Dog plan, to enable responsible off leash recreation at certain times in certain parks. The vote at TM was very close (83 affirmative to 88 negative).  Several TM members later told us that they felt the measure would have gained more support if the Green Dog Plan were not so complex and/or if the narrowly defeated last-minute proposed amendment for only morning hours (up to 10 am) had passed.  We can never know for sure if that is true, but it is our recollection that nearly half of TM supported the amendment to restrict the Green Dog Plan to mornings. Two years ago (2008), TM voted “No Action” on an Article similar to Article 36 (#28).  At that time, the primary reason cited, including in the Selectmen’s recommendation for “no action”, was the need to give the Green Dog committee time to do its work. Nonetheless, even then, several TM members supported a substitute motion for positive action, with some proposing amendments that would enable their support. Our Substitute Motion under Article 36 addresses what we learned from experience and feedback from other TM members, on both previous attempts.

 

Why isn’t it enough for dog owners to have the Town working on fenced off leash recreation facilities?

Fenced off leash recreation areas (OLRA) have been legal in Arlington for 7 years, but the Town has yet to establish any.   (In contrast, in Somerville, a Dog Owners Task Force formed in 2004, the first OLRA was constructed in 2006, and today there are 2 operational OLRAs, 1 more in advanced planning, and 2 more under serious consideration. The Somerville Open Space and Recreation Plan, 2008-2013, highlights off leash recreation in Somerville as a “Success Story”.)  Many dog owners, including us, are encouraged that the Town has now established a “Dog Park Task Force” to identify possible sites and work out details.  Some of us have been named to this Task Force and have begun working constructively with fellow members.  Still, such OLRA are costly, each at least $200,000, based on the experiences of Boston and Somerville, as well as other information gathered, so far, by our Task Force.  With budgetary and other constraints, it is not clear when there will be a sufficient number of fenced OLRA to serve Arlington’s dog owner community.  In addition, even if unlimited financial and open-space resources were available, a fenced OLRA is not appropriate for all neighborhood parks and for all users.   (Indeed some TM members indicated they did not support the Green Dog Plan in 2009 because it included fenced OLRAs.)  Other programs, most notably NYC’s very successful off-leash recreation program (http://www.nycoffleash.com/html/FAQ.htm) rely on a combination of dedicated fenced facilities at some parks and “shared hours” at others. We believe that the best solution for Arlington will also include both approaches, and feel that Article 36 works in parallel to the work of the Dog Park Task Force, with complementary goals.

 

Why the proposed hours of “park opening time til 9 am”?

As noted above, we learned from last year’s Green Dog debate in TM that morning hours were less controversial and that the motion to restrict hours to prior to 10 am is regarded as one that would have strengthened chances of passage.  In our proposal, hours are limited even further to end at 9 am.  In NYC, the default off-leash hours in shared-use parks are from 9 pm til 9 am, unless a park closes at night, as ours do.  This has apparently worked well for over 20 years in a very densely populated city.  Those of us who visit Arlington parks early in the morning know that they are used quite sparsely at this time.   We believe that the proposed hours would have minimum impact on park usage, and would give responsible dog owners the option to exercise and socialize their dogs before going to work and/or helping their children get to school.  The hours will not be optimal for all dog owners, but we believe that they will be useful to many. The intent of restricting hours in this proposal is to be conservative.  In several other MA towns (e.g. Lexington, Bedford, Burlington, Acton, Concord, Lincoln, and Wellesley) dogs are allowed off-leash, under effective control, in virtually all parks at all open hours.

 

Why the phrase “effective owner control”?

This requires that only dogs accompanied by the human owner, and under control, would be allowed off-leash.  Article 36 is not intended to provide an opportunity for dog owners to allow their dog to run “at large”, or to enable out of control dogs to run through private property, jump on people, attack other dogs, or otherwise cause problems.  Complaints about out of control dogs should be addressed by the Animal Control Officer (ACO), if necessary, as well as by peer pressure from other dog owners.  In other bylaws, similar wording is used, for example:

 

Acton:  “complete and effective control”

Brookline: “must control the animal”

Bedford:  “effective voice control”, “effective control of its owner”

Burlington: “obedient to command”

Concord:  “under the control of its owner”

Lexington:  “effective command”

 

Under this bylaw, owners who cannot or will not control their dogs would always be in violation.  Owners playing fetch with their dogs, supervising their dogs playing with other dogs, or conducting other harmless, enjoyable activities with their dogs prior to 9 am, would not.

 

Why “lands under control of the Parks and Recreation Commission”?

These lands would exclude potential areas of concern, including the bike path, Town Hall gardens, cemetery, and conservation land.  We learned that, in Arlington, this is preferable to the overly broad term “open spaces” that was proposed in 2008, though the term is used in other town bylaws, most notably Bedford’s (below).  Interestingly, Bedford’s bylaw also distinguishes a dog “at large” from one under “effective control of its owner”.

 

From Town of Bedford bylaws, Article 42.5.1 Dogs Running at Large (Leash Law Provisions):

“No owner or keeper of any dog shall permit their dog to run at large at anytime. An owner or keeper of a dog must accompany and restrain the dog on a leash or accompany with leash in hand and maintain effective voice control of the dog while off their own property. An obedient dog which is under the effective control of its owner may be permitted to be unleashed in Town-owned open spaces within the Town. Dogs must be on a leash on bike paths and at public events. No dogs are allowed in cemeteries. The provision of this paragraph shall not apply to a guide dog or service dog while actually engaged in the performance of its trained duties.”

 

Why “by specific exclusion of the Parks and Recreation Commission”?

This adds flexibility, avoiding the need for specific locations to be debated in TM. It recognizes and respects the role and authority of the Parks and Recreation Commission.  In Brookline, the bylaw change that passed at TM allowing a Green Dog Plan was general (see below), leaving it up to the Parks and Recreation Commission to establish details of off-leash use and, importantly, to modify this use whenever needed.  We believe that Parks and Recreation Commission’s role should be accorded similar respect and authority in Arlington, and that it is not necessarily a productive use of TM time to debate details of implementation.  In Arlington, we have a Parks and Recreation Commission, appointed by our Town Manager, with approval by our elected Selectmen, to make detailed decisions on use of our public parks.

 

From Town of Brookline Bylaws, SECTION 8.6.7(a) RESTRAINT OF DOGS:

“However, in areas officially designated as designated off

leash area by the Park and Recreation Commission, or its

designee, a dog shall be allowed to be off the leash under

the following conditions…”

 

Why not propose a pilot plan?

We believe that there is no need to make this a pilot plan, subject to even more TM debate next year and in subsequent years. We trust that the Parks and Recreation Commission will act in good faith to implement a flexible bylaw such as this one.  It is essentially a pilot plan anyway, because the Parks and Recreation Commission can act to exclude all parks, though, we are trusting them not to do so.  Under this bylaw, the Commission might, for example, choose to exclude a park it deems “controversial”, conduct a public review process and, potentially, designate specific sub-areas only, or no areas at all, for morning off-leash recreation.  And, of course, TM can vote in a more restrictive leash law in future years.

 

What will this cost the Town?

As we discussed, as Article 36 proponents, with the Finance Committee, we believe there will be no significant cost to the Town.  We already have an ACO to enforce the leash law, and we understand that he provides a flyer with the current leash law to the public. This flyer could be modified and could also be given to dog owners when they register for licenses. Also, details, including exclusions established by the Parks and Recreation Commission, could be available on the Town Website. Community groups such as A-DOG and Friends of parks groups can help by keeping their members informed.  These groups might also choose to work with the Town to donate signage or other items to personalize their neighborhood parks. It is worth noting, too, that in response to an Article submitted to TM last year by an opponent of off-leash recreation, the Town raised the dog license fee by up to 50%, moving it from the median to the highest range in the Commonwealth (based on numbers available in spring, 2009), and imposed a costly late-fee.  That Article’s proponent had suggested that such fees be used for “enforcement”.  While specifying such use was ruled illegal, it is nonetheless clear that dog owners are being charged substantially more this year than last year, providing some extra revenue with no increase in privileges.

 

Why “a maximum of three dogs”?  This was added for consistency with our town bylaws that allow up to three dogs per household, and with similar limits in other off-leash programs. 

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Talk to us at TM:  Mary McCartney (Pct 1), Sue Doctrow and Jennifer Goebel (Pct 21), Ann Smith (Pct 17), BethAnn Friedman (Pct 15), and Andrew Fisher (Pct 6)

 

Website:  www.arlingtondogowners.org.  Board of Directors:  Susan Doctrow, Andrew Fisher, MaryAnna Foskett, Brenda Kokubo, Mary Mangan, Carrie Moore, Gian Schauer, Gerald Silberman, Ann Smith, Roslyn Smith, Judy Weinberg

Lexington Speaks out about Unleashed Dogs in Willard’s Woods

Willard's Woods
(Photo by Scott Goldberg of AM DEW Photos, Lexington)
(editorial Intro by S. Doctrow)  As many of you know, unlike Arlington, Lexington enjoys a modern leash bylaw, whereby dogs are allowed off leash under owner control.  One of the favorite recreational spots for dog owners from Lexington, as well as surrounding towns including ours, is the conservation land known as Willard’s Woods. Currently, there is controversy over dog recreation at Willard’s Woods, fueled primarily by complaints from abutters, complaints not only over dog owners using Willard’s, but also over Willard’s users parking their cars on the abutters’ street.  In response to such complaints, the Lexington Conservation Commission has held hearings and is reportedly leaning toward requiring dogs to be leashed on this property.  I attended one public meeting, in which a member of the Commission said that their primary concern is not with the interest of residents who enjoy recreational use of this space but, instead, with protection of the land.  Lexington dog owners, who have enjoyed a reasonable off-leash policy in their town for many years, are speaking out against this threat to take away a favorite venue for responsibly exercising and socializing their dogs.   (This story is an all  too familiar one to we A-DOG members, unfortunately.  In our town, we have faced several examples of opposition by abutters who seem to believe that they have the right to control the use of our public land, only because they live next to it).
The editorial page of the Lexington Minuteman (Feb 4) reported being “inundated” with letters supporting off-leash recreation. A selection of letters was published, reprinted in its entirety below.  If you are a responsible dog owner in Lexington, or a neighbor who enjoys taking your dog to Willard’s Woods for exercise and socialization, please speak out by writing to the Conservation Commission and to the Lexington Selectmen, your elected officials if you are a Lexington voter.  (Also write to candidates for Selectman in the upcoming election to find out where they stand.)  The Conservation Commission will reportedly vote on this measure February 23 at their meeting.  The meeting is currently scheduled for the Lexington Selectmen’s meeting room in Town Hall, but might be moved to accommodate the large turnout expected.  We will try to keep an update on the meeting on the front page of our website, but please contact us by email for the newest information on it.  If you want to get involved in a new Lexington based dog owners group (“LexiDOG”), please write to us and we’ll put you in touch.
Please note that Leslie Goldberg, a spokesperson for Lexington Dog Owners, asked me to add a reminder that we must use natural resources like Willard’s Woods as responsibly as we can, to clean up after our dogs always.  In addition, Leslie has voiced regrets that Willard’s Woods is described as a “dog park” in some books and websites.  She is concerned that this has brought in people unfamiliar with the controversies and sensitive issues around its use.  In particular, she hopes that users will use extra care and remember that it is conservation land.
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From the Lexington Minuteman (Wicked Local online site)
Lexington —

Note to readers The Lexington Minuteman was inundated with letters this week about the upcoming Feb. 23, Conservation Commission hearing about whether dogs should be leashed at Willard’s Woods. There were too many letters to publish, however, here is a collection of snippets from the letters the newspaper received. We’ll have more snippets next week since we have received even more letters about the issue. The meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23, Room G-15/Town Office Building, 1625 Mass. Ave. — Anthony Schinella, covering editor

Lexington conservation lands are supposed to be open to all. That is supposed to include everyone, even dog owners, but now we might as well stay home and walk our dogs down the street. You’ve decided that everyone else’s rights take precedence. You’ve been swayed by abutters who come in with photos of dog poop, and cry how their lives and health are being negatively impacted by cars on their street, and dogs in the conservation land next to their homes. — Frances Gillespie, Gleason Road

It seems the current compromise is to require dogs in Willard’s Woods to be leashed at all times. This is a simple and straightforward solution to many of our issues in this conservation area. Unfortunately, it is almost the same as banning dogs. I walk my dogs on leash on the streets, in the town center, and other areas. The joy of Willard’s was to allow my dogs off leash. — Mark Eykholt, Patterson Road

I am a conscientious dog owner and diligent about dog waste removal. I know that having to leash my dog at Willard’s Woods would stop me from using the space. When the rights of some are restricted, it is called discrimination. How can it be that a few people can disallow the many access to a public space and restrict their freedom? When one space becomes restricted what’s to stop the spread of restriction? — Sheri Foreman, Peachtree Road

We have been residents for 30 years, with and without dogs, and we treasure the freedom that our dogs have enjoyed. A small minority of owners may not be as responsible as they need to be, but to deny all dogs the opportunity to run free is unconscionable. They simply cannot get enough exercise if they are always leashed. — Pat and Audrey Sallese, Lowell Street

Of course the woods are a great resource for other types of recreational activity — jogging, hiking, etc. — but these activities are generally not ones in which one meets, converses with, and gets to know other park users. The nature of the experience with the dogs off-leash — in which we are letting the dogs socialize, run, play, etc. — fosters a type of camaraderie that is increasingly rare in today’s society, and it would be a great loss to our community were it to become unavailable. — Evan Ziporyn, Turning Mill Road

I am a Lexington resident and have been one for 42 years. I am also a dog owner. Although there are a few “bad dog” (or perhaps bad pet owners) the majority of the dogs are friendly and obedient. As stated on the Lexington High School auditorium wall … Lexington is the Birth Place of a Free America. Please allow our dogs to have a little bit of freedom as well. — Joanne Kaye, Peachtree Road

My own unscientific survey would estimate that 90 percent of people walking the park are dog owners; and I have never witnessed bad or aggressive behavior from any dogs. Most are off leash but under owner’s command, some are leashed, and the experience has been incredibly positive. With 44 percent of U.S. families owning a dog and the overwhelming majority of people walking in Willard’s Woods having a dog, it seems to me that restricting Conservation Land in Lexington to either leashed dogs or banned to dogs, would prevent the very people that enjoy and value the conservation land from using it fully. — Enrico Cagliero, Paul Revere Road

This ruling is prejudiced and unfair to the hundreds of dog owners and users of Willard’s Woods that maintain control over their dogs, pick up after their pets and obey the rules. It is a travesty of justice and fairness that a small number of people that break the rules will be allowed to take away the rights of the vast majority of law abiding citizens. A leash rule may be an easy answer but it is far from fair or right. — Douglas J. Luckerman, Outlook Drive

There are few places for a dog to vigorously exercise in Lexington, and walking on-leash would not fulfill that exercise requirement. Which brings up another source of irritation — the lack of sidewalks in Lexington neighborhoods. Clearly, wandering in the streets while walking the dog can’t be desirable. — Ann McCartan, Lincoln Street

I revel in the beauty of the landscape at different times of day, various weather conditions and all seasons. As a local artist I have painted over a hundred canvases of Willard’s Woods. Walking there is often the highlight of my day both because of the natural beauty and the camaraderie of spending time with other dog people and their pets. Being off leash is certainly the best part of my dog’s day. Her happiness while playing with other dogs and running after tennis balls is a joy to see. — Laurel Cook Lhowe, Percy Road

As an avid dog-lover and frequent visitor to Willard’s Woods I was appalled by the Conservation Commission’s decision. Being able to walk dogs off-leash at the Woods brings immense joy to so many people. Requiring leashes at all times would have the same effect as banning dogs as there would no longer be a reason to walk at Willard’s Woods versus down the street by our homes. The point of going to the Woods is for the dogs to have space to run freely and play with other dogs. — Sharon Olofsson, Hill Street

My husband and I take our dog over there for off leash walks and play time for the dog. It something we all really enjoy. If the dog is required to be on a leash it would defeat the purpose of our trip to Willard’s Woods to give the dog good exercise and socialization and well as for us to enjoy the beauty while we walk together. We leash our dog in and out of the woods and always clean up after him as well as observing the proper parking. It has always been a really nice experience meeting other people, with and without dogs. — Karen & John Buschini, Tower Road

The problem is those owners who do not pick up their dog waste. This is a small percentage but it is enough to cause great concern. Both dog owners and non-dog owners who enjoy the woods are disgusted by this behavior. How to solve it? Well certainly not by requiring dogs to remain on leash. Those that do not pick up will continue to do so whether their dog is leashed or not. Dogs off-leash behave much better than leashed dogs who often feel trapped and/or protective of their owners and can act aggressive towards other dogs. Any reputable dog trainer/professional will tell you this. — Dayle Ballentine, Tower Road

Holiday Pet Drive Sponsored by A-DOG Member Family

Our fellow member Briana Flynn wrote to us recently to ask that we help spread the word about a holiday pet drive she and her family are planning.  They are collecting donated items needed by local shelters.  Please contact Briana at <petdonations@yahoo.com> to ask how you can help.  Their flyer is reprinted below to give an idea of what is needed:

HELP PETS IN NEED THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
Hello! We are a local family collecting the following items to donate to local animal shelters that are in desperate need of the following:
Bath Towels
Laundry detergent
Bleach
Plush toys
Rubber squeaky toys
Tennis balls
Dental Chews
Knotted rope toys
Rawhides/knuckle bones
Training treats
Phone books for small animals to shred
Cat litter
Copy paper
Paper towels
Toilet Paper
Dog beds
Distilled Water
3-tab manila file folders
Dishwashing liquid
Large trash bags
Hand sanitizer
Bowls
Cat and dog food
Rubbing alcohol
Scissors
Tape dispenser refills
Air fresheners
Radios
Pens
Old Crates
Collars
Leashes
If you have any of the above, please contact us at: petdonations@yahoo.com
We will pick up any of the above items that you can part with and will donate them to local shelters (MSPCA, Buddy Dog, ARL, Alliance for Animals)  in mid December.  THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT!
Every little bit will help!

Prison Pups Screening, Oct 21 in Belmont: Fundraiser for Hearing Impaired Cambridge Teacher

Many of you may recall that A-DOG sponsored a very successful screening of Prison Pups in April, 2008. Here’s another chance to see it and to support an excellent cause. And, please be so kind as to forward this information to everyone you think might be interested!

On Wednesday, October 21, 2009, at 7 p.m. at the Belmont Studio Cinema, 376 Trapelo Road, Belmont, the Friends of Betty and Dexter will show the award-winning documentary, Prison Pups, to help raise funds so that Elizabeth Smith MacKenzie of Watertown may obtain a new hearing assistance dog.

MacKenzie, a special needs teacher with the Cambridge public schools, will get her hearing assistance dog from NEADS (the National Education for Assistance Dog Services) Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans, the same organization that matched her with Dexter, her current hearing assistance dog. Dexter, who is ill, is over 12 years old and will retire soon.

MacKenzie explained that, “My dog works primarily for me, but also accompanies me to the classroom and sits for reading time, helps with counting and often comforts an upset child as needed. He has been an invaluable asset to the school room.”

NEADS, a Massachusetts non-profit, in 1976, pioneered the training of dogs to help people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, in the same manner as guide dogs assist the blind and people with limited vision. NEADS has now expanded its services to provide training for people with other disabilities also.

In 1998, NEADS began the Prison PUP Partnership in which inmates foster and train service dog puppies for the first year of the dogs’ training. The film, Prison Pups, tells the story of four inmates as they raise and train service dogs for the handicapped and hearing impaired at Concord Farm, Massachusetts, a minimum-security facility.

“Dexter, and before him, Chico,” MacKenzie said, “have been my ears for 25 years. They allow me to function independently at home, in the community and at work. They tell me the smoke alarm, teakettle, door knock, phone, etc. They do the same sounds at work, plus a different fire alarm. On the street they tell me if sirens are coming, and alert me to other environmental sounds that are above or below the sounds that my hearing aides can compensate for.”

She added: “My service dog allows independence in a way that gives me, a disabled person, control over my safety. Service dogs are more focused and reliable than any human companion. They are always available and willing to accompany me anywhere at any time.”

A donation of $25.00 for adults and $5.00 for students is requested for the screening. More information about NEADS may be viewed at http://www.neads. org/index. php.

Contributions for Betty may be made directly by going to:
http://www.neads. org/about_ us/client_ view.php? id=189

Green Dog pilot off-leash plan narrowly defeated at Town Meeting

The Board of Selectmen recommended that town meeting vote in favor of the Green Dog plan this year. This represented a tremendous show of support by two Selectmen (Ms. Annie LaCourt and Mr. Kevin Greeley), who added their votes to the positive vote of Green Dog plan co-creator Selectman Clarissa Rowe. However, when the Article was debated at Town Meeting (May 13), it was defeated by 5 votes. See a video on the TM session, including TMMs speaking for and against at the break here. While incredibly close, it still did not pass, which means that there are still no legal off leash exercise options in Arlington. As many of you know, there were quite a few Selectmen’s meetings on the Green Dog Plan and other dog-related warrant articles. Many of our members, as well as other proponents, have attended and spoken, along with opponents, in these meetings. Insightful comments by member Everett Shorey are published below. Several letters to the editor and letters sent to the Selectmen are reprinted here. Our Petition, with over 600 signatures, was presented to TM members and the Selectmen. If you haven’t already signed it, please sign it and ask other Arlington residents to sign it as well. We will continue to update the signature list, and will use it as we continue the drive for legal off leash opportunities for responsible dog owners in Arlington. (More history of the Green Dog plan is given in the article below . Contact us (arlingtondogowners@gmail.com) with any questions about the process, including those about Town Meeting.)

Dog Behavior Workshop

Sponsored by MayDOG, the Maynard Dog Owners Group

Have you ever wondered…

* How can I keep my dog safe when he/she plays with other dogs?
* What does normal dog play behavior look and sound like?
* What are the warning signs that two dogs might be about to fight?
* How do I deal with bullying behavior?
* How do I deal with resource guarding?
* How long should I stay at an off-leash area?
* What can I do BEFORE we meet other dogs to prepare my dog for a fun, safe play session?
* How can I teach my dog to be polite when greeting other dogs and people on-leash?
* What are ways we can build our training relationship?

Come learn the answers to these and many other questions at a dog behavior workshop sponsored by the Maynard Dog Owners Group (MayDOG) on Sunday, May 3, 1:30-3pm. The workshop will be facilitated by Gerilyn Bielakiewicz, CPDT, of Canine University. It will be held at the DOGS! Learning Center, Hudson, MA. The $60 workshop fee admits up to 2 people. A $10 discount is available if you sign up for our mailing list, and if you join MayDOG, the workshop is just $35. Pre-registration is required; register at our website or by calling 978-293-3371.

This workshop is a fundraiser for the Maynard Dog Owners Group (MayDOG), a 501c3 nonprofit community group in Maynard, MA. All proceeds will go toward our mission of promoting responsible dog ownership and building community through safe, legal off-leash recreation in the Maynard area.

Announcing A-DOG Member Benefits and New Logo

Our beautiful new logo was designed for us by A-DOG member and graphic artist Lisa Berasi. Our gratitude to Lisa and to her dog Alfredo who, we’re sure, helped to inspire her!

We are also delighted to announce the first round of businesses offering discounts to our full members. These businesses, as well as other Friends of A-DOG who have generously donated professional services, goods, and/or funds to us, are listed on our Businesses page.

A-DOG Thanks Those Who Contributed to Prison Pups Success

Kathleen Dennehy, volunteers from Bristol County Sheriff\'s office, Shine, Lynn Bissonette, and Alice Bouvri

(Left to right) Commissioner Kathleen Dennehy, Bristol County Sheriff’s office volunteers Deputy Robert Clavin, Major Laura Brook and Deputy Paul Douglas, with Shine, Superintendent Lynn Bissonnette, and film maker Alice Bouvrie (all photos by Roslyn Smith)

by Sue Doctrow on behalf of A-DOG board

A-DOG’s screening of Prison Pups on May 22 at the Regent was a great success, with over 150 humans, and a few lovely service dogs, coming out on a rainy evening to join us. We were able to raise funds for our organization, as well as to enable A-DOG to send a contribution to NEADS. In addition, we believe that several attendees were so moved by the film that they made private contributions to NEADS with the envelopes provided on site. (For those who haven’t read the previous May, 2008 post on this, please do so to learn more, but here is a summary. NEADS is a Princeton, MA based organization dedicated to training dogs to assist the disabled and hearing impaired. Prison Pups is an award winning documentary film that follows four inmates of a local minimum security prison as they participate in a program to train dogs in basic obedience in preparation for their advancement through the NEADS training program.)

We want to thank our special guests who volunteered their time to make this evening the success that it was. None of this would have been possible without the generosity of Arlington film maker Alice Bouvrie, who not only shared her film with us, but also participated in a very informative discussion with the audience and other guests. We’re also most grateful to Kathleen Dennehy, former Correction Commissioner of Massachusetts, for her truly riveting talk introducing the film and describing how the training program benefits not only the clients who will receive these NEADS service dogs, but also the inmates themselves who found so much satisfaction through their work, and the bonds they formed, with their canine charges. These themes were echoed by the remarks of Lynn Bissonnette, MCI Framingham Superintendent who described her own experiences with the challenges and benefits of this program. We also are most grateful to volunteers from the Bristol County Sheriff’s office who made the long trip from North Dartmouth to appear and provide their own insights, and to introduce us to the beautiful yellow lab Shine. These include Major Laura Brook, administrator of the women’s unit, and K9 Officers Deputy Paul Douglas and Deputy Robert Clavin. There were other volunteers in the audience, including those who brought NEADS dogs in training. If anybody can identify volunteers that we’ve not named, please do so in the comments section so that they can be properly acknowledged.

In addition, we are most grateful to the businesses who so generously donated gifts for our door prizes. These are, in no particular order: Go-Play (Arlington), Starbucks (Arlington Heights), Lakota Bakery (Arlington Heights), Animal Spirit (Cambridge), Trader Joe’s (Arlington Heights), Dogma and Catma Too! (Somerville), AcmeCouture handcrafted doggy apparel (Lincoln), and Bonprise Designs handcrafted jewelry (Arlington). We thank the Regent Theatre, too, for making their venue and their friendly staff available to us at a nonprofit discount.

We thank our A-DOG family member, Michael Ruderman, for serving — with his usual poise and wit — as our Master of Ceremonies. We are very grateful to our sister organization SomDog of Somerville, for helping us to promote the screening. We have so appreciated the advice and encouragement of SomDog’s Lisa McFarren and were delighted to see Lisa and her husband Justin at the event. And, finally, we thank all of you who attended our screening and appreciate your interest in this topic and your support of A-DOG and NEADS.

Several people have told us that they were unable to attend this screening, but that they’d love to see Prison Pups. The A-DOG board has voted to buy the licensed copy of the film to sponsor future showings at smaller community sites, perhaps in collaboration with dogowners organizations in other communities. Stay tuned for announcements of these events!

Julia Ruderman meets a NEADS service dog

Deputies Douglas and Clavin introduce ShineNEADS dogs and their handlers

Young attendees meet a NEADS service dog in training

A-DOG sponsors Bouvrie’s Prison Pups at Regent Theatre

We’re sponsoring the Arlington premiere of Prison Pups, a film by Arlington resident Alice Dungan Bouvrie, on May 22, at 7:30 p.m. at the Regent Theatre. Prison Pups is a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the life of four inmates at New England Correctional Center, a minimum-security facility in Concord, as they raise and train assistance dogs for the NEADS (Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans) program based in Princeton, Mass.

By taking on the responsibility of caring for a puppy, the inmates develop self-confidence and the capacity for nurturing and affection. This film, produced in cooperation with WGBH, won Best Documentary Award and has been the official selection at several other festivals.

In addition to a Q&A session with Ms. Bouvrie, the event will include an introduction by Kathleen M. Dennehy, the first woman appointed Commissioner of Correction in Massachusetts. Ms. Dennehy, who served from 2004 to 2007, has been called by one politician, “the best corrections official in the country.” Ms. Dennehy is currently a corrections consultant and is enrolled in a doctoral program in social policy at Brandeis University.

Also available for questions at the event will be Superintendent Lynn Bissonnette of MCI-Framingham who appears in Prison Pups and was instrumental in bringing the prison dog program to Massachusetts. Prison Pups is a natural choice for A-DOG to showcase because the film echoes the group’s guiding principle that relationships with dogs and other companion animals have numerous benefits to individuals of all ages, and to the community at large.

Tickets are available in advance for $8 from the Regent Theatre box office at 7 Medford Street in Arlington Center (call 781-646-4849 or visit their website) or at the door May 22. Proceeds will benefit A-DOG and NEADS.

Introducing A-DOG

Arlington Dog Owners Group, or A-DOG, was organized by a group of concerned dogowners and friends to address issues around dogs and people in Arlington, MA. We incorporated as a new not-for-profit organization in the spring, 2008.

Our guiding principles are:

  • Relationships with dogs and other companion animals have numerous benefits to individuals of all ages, and to the community at large.
  • With dog ownership comes responsibility, not only to promote the health and welfare of one’s dog, but also to ensure that one’s dog does not adversely affect the safety of others.

A-DOG’s mission includes:

  • Advocating for the rights and interests of Arlington dog owners.
  • Promoting responsible dog ownership, emphasizing respect for the rights and interests of neighbors and the community and the welfare of our companion animals.
  • Educating the community about dog behavior and other factors influencing canine-human interactions.
  • Working to promote safe, healthy recreational venues for dogs on- and off-leash in Arlington, enabling responsible dog owners to exercise and socialize their dogs.

Please join us in our inaugural year! Click here for a form that can be printed and mailed to us.

Founding directors: Susan R. Doctrow and Susan C. Ruderman (co-Presidents); Andrew Fischer; MaryAnna Foskett; Brenda Kokubo; Carrie Moore; Mary Mangan; Ann Smith; Roslyn Smith; and Judy Weinberg

Copyright 2008 – 2009, Arlington Dog Owners Group, all rights reserved