Alarmed by the Park


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.

I like PDA as much as this guy likes green eggs and ham. So, would you not, could you not PDA? Especially not in my park.

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’ categoryI 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?

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10 Comments

  1. I don’t take the dogs to the dog park very often and when I do the area is mostly fenced in. I don’t walk outside of the fenced in area.

    But in our woods I have had a couple of weird instances so I carry the cell phone, a whistle, my camera (of course) and my handy-dandy pepper spray blaster.

    You can never be too careful Lexy.

    • The park near me has a dog park in it, but i don’t go there all that often – the paths are nice, and I’m more likely to run into dog people on the paths once it’s dark out than in the fenced dog park area. So most of my walks are in areas kind of like the ones you show in your pictures, though I don’t stray from the paved paths after dark, since none of the unpaved paths are ‘official’.

      A pepper spray would be handy… though, while I”m not sure of this, I think pepper spray might be illegal in ontario. I’m pretty sure I read that at some point. I considered a bear banger for the coyotes, but I figure something that noisy that scares off bears (and would scare off a coyote) would a) scare Gwynn off, and b) cause people to call the police to report gunshots.

  2. Oh that stinks. Our little town officially has one park left that isn’t completely creepy for a mom-and-child or lady-and-dog to visit. I’ve always wondered why the pervy night walkers, parking lot drug lords, and paint-happy thugs don’t all hang out at, say, Starbucks.

    • lol, I just think there must be isolated industrial areas they could be doing their sketchy business in. Or empty parking lots near businesses closed for the evening. Really, they ought to be more considerate 😛
      It’s just frustrating that a place that’s meant to be pretty and entertaining turns into the place where you have to be paranoid. Also, be careful of your evening walks in any of the creepy parks – my dog might not look tough with all his fluffiness, but your baby/manchild looks even less intimidating. People would never suspect his ability to terrorize by just looking at him 🙂

  3. I don’t have a dog or a park, but If I did…. I would be leary of that park for sure….

    • unfortunately, it’s just the darkness that makes things creepy… so that 5pm becomes the same as visiting the park at 3am.

  4. lol, to the camping bit, there’s a park area close-ish to my res, and there’s a protest going on that involves stupid people setting up tents and whatnot and living there… I have no clue as to what they’re protesting to, but I know that a good portion of the homeless are going there and being like “Hey, I wanna protest, but I don’ have a tent… mind if I share with ya?” and succeeding 😀
    Also, I generally try to avoid possible creepy situations at 6am by not going to possibly creepy places at 6am… I do this by being in bed still at 6am 😀 Love ya Lex

    • I’m 99.99% sure that the camper in the artillery lands isn’t occupying anything in particular.
      6 am, at least, i’m guaranteed to meet the person I arranged to meet up with. in the evening, there might not be anyone at the park at all.

  5. I pretty much stay out of the parks when I am by myself. There are undesirables who hang in the parks around here, day and night. Someone even committed suicide recently by hanging themselves from the picnic pavilion at a local park. I feel badly for that poor soul who was that desperate, but common dude, kids play in that park.

    Lexy…you need to watch more Lifetime movies (do you have those in Canada?). Don’t you know the serial killers always hang out in mostly empty and dark parks? 😆

    • True… danger lurks amongst the swingsets!
      It’s unfortunate that undesirables feel that the park is a great place to do their business… and I agree with you about your local suicide – I wish theyd’ found somewhere less children-traumatizing to end it all, if getting help wasn’t an option.

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