ANNIE SILVESTER/Bullet News
NIAGARA FALLS – It was the grand opening of the Niagara Falls Leash Free Dog Park at Firemen’s Park on Dorchester Road and lots of people and their pooches showed up to enjoy the new facility and take in the official ribbon cutting ceremony with Mayor Jim Diodati and his golden doodle Charlie.
The impressive 3.5-acre dog park is divided into two areas, one for dogs under 10 kilograms, and a second area for larger dogs. Each area is fenced off completely and facilitates dog owners as well as their canine friends with its well laid out benches, pathways and landscaping that includes lots of large leafy trees for those hot summer days.
Diodati gave credit to the folks that came together to make the much anticipated park a reality before getting on with the official duties including Niagara Falls’ resident Don Udell, a longtime advocate of creating the park.
“Don Udell was so persistent in the beginning. He kept emailing us and persisting. Because of Don and also because of the Stamford Centre Volunteer Firefighters coming together, along with our staff and along with our volunteers we were able to create this wonderful park with the guidance of our recreation committee. This is going to be one of the best dog parks in all of Ontario.”
The new park which is open daily from dusk to dawn requires all dogs to have up to date licenses and vaccinations. There are also some dos and don’ts so that everyone can enjoy themselves
Sue MacInnes from Bark Busters Niagara was on hand with a few tips for dog owners saying there are so many things that are common sense but sometimes we don’t see it as common sense.
“The first thing is people etiquette and that means being respectful of the other people that are in the park with you. If you see someone who is in violation of the posted rules outside the dog park speak to them in a calm and respectful manner.”
MacInnes points out that if you get excited, your dog will get excited too, causing a bad chain reaction.
Other dog-focused tips include not taking a timid dog directly into the park as well as not taking a dog into the park with a leash on when it is a leash-free zone. This can hamper their fight-or-flight instinct with other dog interaction.
“If a dog is uncomfortable and they don’t have the option to run away it actually puts them in a vulnerable position.”
The other basics she shares include making sure you clean up after your pet and also not rushing into the leash-free areas immediately from the car. Wait until your dog gets acclimatized to the environment and you have control over it.
Firemen’s Park has been used by dog owners for years but the new park gives it a bonus safety feature. MacInnes explains.
“The location that we’re in has been an unofficial leash free park for some time but in doing that you don’t have the advantages of having that fence and you look at some dogs that are prone to running away, it is really difficult to give them the opportunity to exercise freely and really have a good runaround in a nice big space and still ensure that safety. Any time you can get your dog out running around it is going to be a huge benefit to them and to you.”
For more information go to the City’s website at www.niagarafalls.ca.