…say it how it is series …
I live in the mountains.
We have over 300 acres of official off leash areas in town, some fenced some not, but it’s official.
We have just as many acres if not more of unofficial off leash areas, as in all city parks, neighborhoods, and green belts, because there isn’t any real enforcement, it is basically an entire town of off leash if you want.
We have over 90 miles of in-town trails that are multi-use, thanks to a local land trust. These trails get you off of the main roads and you can go from one side of town to the other, mountain to mountain, home to library, or whatever. They are also unofficially off leash trails, even though they say ‘on leash’.
We have thousands of miles of trails that go into the back country just minutes from town, with your choice of two possibly four mountain ranges depending on how far you want to drive, but still all super close. While your dog is supposed to be with you and under control, most of the trails, especially down low are used as dog park like activity, including chasing wild life, chasing bikers, running around sans owner, etc.
Our town makes every dog magazines TOP 10 list, almost every year-
Top town to live with a dog
Top town to be a dog
Top town to travel with a dog
Top town to hike with a dog
Top town for dog amenities
Top town for dog friendly hotels
Top town for off leash dog parks (that would be our whole town by the way)
Top town for dog friendly people
And every year I sit back and wonder where they get their information for our little town.
We are dog heavy here, a guesstimate 30,000+ dogs in our valley with around 50,000+ people in the city, and double that for county, and per capita we are second only to Portland Oregon, who’s population is well over 650,000+ people.
But what is the magic, why is our valley the happy dog valley? Is it something in the water that makes everything Shangri-la like? Do we just breed better dogs here? Is our town stacked with just the best dog owners on the planet? Or, is the pollen season really pixie dust season to make us that much more better than every place else? Or is this just a marketing thing?
Now I sit in a place, professionally and personally, where I would like to wear rose colored glasses, really I would, my life would be so super awesome I assure you, but it is more like rose colored glasses splashed in mud, lots and lots of mud.
Because I meet the people who have to move because the off leash dogs are such a problem.
Because I get to work with people who have to relocate because their dog has been bitten five too many times in town and it has now caused to much life stress for the whole family.
Because I work with the people whose dogs are biting other dogs on in- town trails.
Because I meet the people who don’t give a flying fuck that they passed six signs that say ON LEASH DOGS ONLY, because obviously it wasn’t meant for them.
Because I meet the child that pulled on a dogs ears while bouncing on its back and was bitten and now the parents want to re-home the dog.
Because I meet the dogs, sans owners, that run around my neighborhood park and bark at me as I walk by, or try to come after my dogs that are on leash.
Because I meet the owner who is too cool to use a leash in the hardware store, and allows the employees to clean up the urine from his dog on the end cap of the aisle.
Because I work with the dogs that have been allowed to chase cars, wildlife, bikes, and skateboarders, but now they would like to change that because they are moving to Portland Oregon where it isn’t allowed.
Because I work with people who think giving their dogs 400 acres to be free is great ownership, but they are having a hard time walking their dog on leash downtown.
Because I work with families who adopted the fun spotty colored dog at the shelter because he was cool looking, and who is clearly over their skill level, and they have only minutes or so a day to spend time with him, so what do I think about an underground electric fence for the rest of the 164 hours in the week.
Because I live in a town where we start selling fireworks on June 25th, and so a single day of Independence celebration turns into a season of exploding things at all hours, and it is horrifying to both the wild and domestic animals that live here.
Because I live in a town where they use pesticides and herbicides in all city parks, even though we now know this is dangerous for our dogs that are basically barefoot and naked with their noses right in the thick of it.
Because I witness human conflicts on trails because of poor dog management choices while hiking off leash with no trail skills to speak of.
Because I meet confused dogs every day that live in a world of poor human choices.
… and because, you can add another bazillion reasons …
Is my town a good place to live? Yes I believe so. I love where I live and live here by choice. But that should not be confused with ideal, or perfect, or no problems, or better than any place else, or the false notion of a happy valley.
The reality is, we are like every place else, just in a different place by gps standards, and we have our dog issues here like every place else, but they are masked because Mother Natures physical beauty is palpable here.
So, be realistic, be responsible, be accountable, when out and about with your dog, and please stop sniffing the pixie dust, that might be why everyone is sneezing as of late.