I’m beginning to suspect that my park – my beloved close-to-walk-to park, with its brand-new dog-off-leash area – is not the greatest place to go… at most hours of the day, and all hours of the night. These are things that were there in the summer, when the sun wasn’t setting until 10 pm, and it was bright out well before I emerged to walk the dog in the morning. But somehow, more ominous when it’s black-out between 5pm and 7am.
It might be the gang-related graffiti that has cropped up recently. A question I would love to ask the guys from gang X … is my park some kind of boundary line? I know that on one side of the creek is Toronto, and the other side is Mississauga… is that your gang-line too? Also… did you notice that the theoretical gang Y hasn’t been defiling my park with un-artistic and unimaginative graffiti? Dear Gang Y – you could totally ‘show Gang X who’s boss’ by going out and scrubbing all their spray-paint away. That’d learn ‘em.
It might be the parkers. They’re even out in the morning! Why are you in the parking lot of the dog park at 6 in the morning if you don’t have a dog? I barely come to the dog park at 6 in the morning, and I have a dog. Why do you just sit there in your car for a bit and then drive away? And, to that other guy, why did you keep getting out and wandering through the parking lot? My car’s locked, by the way. If you feel the urge to park, at least go to one of the three other parking lots… they’re less in-use. I’ve been told two possibilities for these lurkers.
One, that there are drugs involved. I have trouble believing that anyone’s out at 6am hunting for a dealer in an empty park. They’re all sleeping off the previous all-night-bender, aren’t they? But maybe that’s what they want me to believe. However, I do acknowledge that drugs are a good explanation for the late evening parking-lot lurkers.
The other is rather offensive, and pretty much everyone that suggests this option uses crude and homophobic language. However, my non-homophobic dad confirmed that this is one of the reputations my park has. In the least crude way possible… apparently this park in particular is a place where gay guys go to pick upIf there’s hanky panky going on in the park, I doubt it’s limited to boys who like boys. But at 6 am? Doubtful. Also, go to a bar or a coffee shop, or gym or class of some sort to meet people. You deserve to meet someone who isn’t lurking in a dark parking lot… and then go somewhere more private than a big dark wooded area to be intimate. And by more private, I mean less sketchy. There are gangs and drugs there, you know. Also, I don’t like PDA ever – not in a park or in the dark or in a car or in a bar, I do not like PDA at all.
It might be the late-night-walkers – and I don’t mean the people with dogs. I realize it’s silly, but if you’re out in the park early in the pitch-black morning, or late in the pitch-black evening, and you don’t have a dog… or fall clearly into the ‘I exercise no matter what the weather/season/hour’ category…I assume you’re sketchy or at least a bit deranged. Also, why did you slow down? Change direction? Walk directly into the dark woods not-on-a-path? I heard a terrible story from a fellow dog owner recently – a friend of his was out walking one evening with her two malamutes, and she got attacked in the woods. She’s fine… her dogs killed the guy, though. Just a warning to any sketchy people who might read my blog – don’t mess with people walking their dogs. I don’t know how Gwynn would react to an attacker (and am doing my best to ensure that I never find out – safety first!), but he is my biggest fan, and he bit a 2” oak dowel in half with ease.
It might be the campsites. There isn’t camping in the park. If I find your tent/shanty/lean-to, I will call the police. I do understand that it’s likely that you are a homeless person, and I feel for you. But you’re making my park scary. Go to this link (free library internet!), the city will help you, but first you need to seek that help out. Lurking in the woods makes me think you’re more interested in taking than asking for.
It might be the coyotes. I’ve actually seen some this fall – the first time I’ve ever seen coyotes in the area. And, while they are chickens when outnumbered, I’ve heard a good number of stories about them luring unsuspecting dogs into the woods where the rest of their gang is waiting.
Gwynn (and Sadie, when she joins us) has a light on his collar. I have my headlamp(note – animal eyes glow bright in both red and white lights… the purpose of the headlamp is to let me see if there are animals other than my dog(s) in the area that might pose a danger… and to find poops in the dark.) and cell phone and a truncheon-like big metal flashlight (whose sole purpose is, yes, to bludgeon a theoretical attacker.), and a whistle. And I make as many of my evening walks as possible with a buddy or two, using guilt, bribery and outright begging to get someone to go with me into the woods. I would rather avoid going to parks in the dark, but the reduced daylight doesn’t reduce the length of time Gwynn needs to be walked (preferably with a bit of off-leash running around), much as I sometimes wish it would.
What do you do to keep you and your dog safe on your walks? Do you go dogless into dark parks? If you’re one of the people who randomly parks in the park… why?