Ask Tom, the Dogcharmer: Tradewinds dog park

Where else can our dogs go for a run?

Ella the year and a half year old foster dog enoys her trips at Tradewinds. —Sara Barnes

Hi Tom,

Thank so much for all your help (and Jeremy’s) in helping rehabilitate Ella, the 1½-year-old foster dog. As you know, she is now on her third rehoming. She is making progress in overcoming her fears and lack of trust in humans, after having been abused in at least one of her previous homes.

The one hour a day when she is sure to be fully happy is at the Tradewinds Dog Park. She romps and plays, makes friends with other dogs, and has started to trust the regular humans. She is mostly able to be off-leash, and comes nine out of 10 times when I call — I continue to work on this.

But now there is a move to restrict dogs’ use of Tradewinds’ open spaces, where she and many other dogs run safely. We are told that we are subject to arrest (!) for letting dogs roam freely. I’m committed to rehabilitating her, but it’s going to be hard to do if there’s nowhere for her to run. Do you have any ideas about this?

Sara Barnes

Dear Sara,

I’ve received quite a few concerned and agitated responses asking for my opinion about the new Tradewinds policy. Tradewinds Land Bank, I believe, is the most used Land Bank on the Island, primarily because of dogs. One of the mission statements for our wonderful Land Bank basically says, the properties are there for the enjoyment of our citizens. I’m quite sure there’s no place on the Island more popular than TW when it comes to our residents congregating virtually every single day of the year. It’s the healthy highlight of the day for an awful lot of people and their dogs. I’ve done more than 100 lessons at TW helping dog owners socialize their dogs, which is critical for a well-adjusted dog. All of our report cards and our kids’ report cards had, “Works and plays well with others,” and it very much applies to dogs also. I don’t want to introduce an unsocialized, fearful, or aggressive dog to another dog on an elevator, or on a 4-foot-wide trail. Wide-open spaces reduce the anxiety of nervous dogs dramatically. Now when it comes to the environment, I’m a very strong advocate for doing all that we can to help. I don’t litter, I use a filter and don’t buy bottled water, I pick up after my dog, I recycle, etc. I just read about an ice shelf the size of Delaware in Antarctica called the Larsen C, which is on the verge of breaking off and potentially adding four inches of depth to the ocean. Yes, living 150 yards from the water, I’m really concerned about our environment, but depriving a huge group of our citizens, taking away such a valuable area of health and enjoyment for so many people and dogs for a purple beetle and some blue-eyed grass is way over the top, in my opinion. They are not on the verge of extinction, and abound in plenty of other places that are not popular hubs and gathering places for large groups of people enjoying social interaction. Oak Bluffs, supply a half-dozen well-placed receptacles (we can bring our own bags), and we’ll be more than happy to pick up. Indicate with little signs where the purple beetle and blue-eyed grass are most abundant, and we’ll be more than happy to avoid walking right there! Martha’s Vineyard is one of the most intelligently dog-friendly places in the USA. It’s here that I experienced for the first time people crossing the street to pet my Doberman, instead of crossing to avoid the Doberman. TW Land Bank users have their own Facebook page, with more than 250 people daily exchanging dog health updates, adoption needs, etc. This is clearly one case where the people’s needs and enjoyment should come before a purple beetle and some grass. For goodness sake, keep Martha’s Vineyard as a bastion of dog-friendly freedom. Let’s hope common sense wins out for the people.

Good luck,

The Dogcharmer

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