Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
I need to point out some contradictions that exist on the Island regarding dogs. Isn't it ironic on an island that is widely recognized by its Black Dog apparel that we have such am intolerant attitude toward dogs?
A letter to the editor on July 19 about dogs on the beach generalized dog owners as “idiots” and “irresponsible.” This I take issue with as I would never act in the way the Walkers describe their beach and dog situation. Right underneath this exhortation is a sensitive story written by Peter Robb about his love for his dog, Lucca, and the kind loving act of adopting dogs. Quite a contrast.
Yet another contradiction is the place on Beach Road where dog waste bags are available (and very much appreciated) with a brand new sign right below it stating “No dogs allowed.” I feel we live on a schizophrenic Island!
More to the point, I have a beautifully trained 10-year-old golden retriever. We shave her down for the summer to keep her cool. Her love, however, is the water. Her vet has told us the best thing for her advancing lameness and arthritis (along with her heart condition) is to get her in the water as frequently as possible. For years I have taken her to State Beach before 9 a.m. or later in the late afternoon and early evening hours. I always pick up after her — she does not do her business in the water nor has she ever vomited as inferred of all dogs in the letter. Ninety nine per cent of people who have seen us smile, ask how old she is, even throw a ball or wish to engage her in some way. The one per cent of dog-haters have come up screaming at me, calling both the dog and I all sorts of names. Therefore, as the dog has aged and is unable to go out in the deep water any longer, I moved over to the more shallow, secluded pond side. We bother no one. Now we see the one per cent won” by getting the “No dogs allowed” signs posted everywhere on both sides of Beach Road.
Where may I ask, are good-natured, well-behaved dogs allowed to go to cool off on a supposedly dog-friendly Island? The ocean might be an obvious answer, but unfortunately cooling off our four-legged friends is becoming more and more difficult. I believe these one per cent of people to be narrow minded, rude and most likely very unhappy people in general with nothing else to do but take up this insane cause of dog patrolling. And for them, I truly feel sorry —instead of subscribing to Peter Robb’s enjoyment of these fine animals as he stated so eloquently, they are the ones losing out on one of life’s greatest gifts.
I’ve been coming to the Island for about 30 years and we bought a home here 16 years ago. I do agree with the Walkers that a few careless people are ruining it for the rest of us responsible dog owners. Therefore, I appeal to both sides — dog owners, please pick up after your animals and use common sense as to the times you bring them out in the heat of the day; and dog-nonlovers, please learn to share this beautiful Island so all of us can continue to enjoy the beauty and uniqueness this place has to offer. There is certainly room for all.
Deb O’Hara-Rusckowski, Edgartown