Thursday, June 17, 2010

See spot run? Not in a River East dog park you can't.

Teddy dreams of a River East dog park to call his own.
I love my dog - a lot.

Not only do I buy him dog toys by the pound (ha-ha "pound") but I keep them in a toy box just for him.

He has a collection of darling little t-shirts (which I sometimes iron) and a large collection of trendy harnesses and leashes.

He has dog insurance (which I suspect is better than my human insurance).

He even sleeps in the bed with me at the head of the bed...on his own pillow (clearly I have given up all control).

However, despite my love for my little darling (his name is Teddy)  when I want to take him to a DC dog park I have to drive "over the river and through the woods" because there are no DC dog parks East of the River.

And that really bites (no pun intended).

I, along with every other responsible DC dog owner has to jump through hoops (okay that pun was intended) to keep my dog vaccinated just so I can get him registered in DC and get the special DC dog park tag, and I pay  $15 a year for the privilege

I don't whine about getting him vaccinated (I do that to keep him healthy).  I don't whine about filling out the paperwork to get him licensed in DC (its the law). I don't even really mind shelling out the $15 for the dog license and the dog park tag (small price to pay so my little guy can sniff butts in peace)  but I do get annoyed, really annoyed,  when I have to get in my car and drive at least 15 minutes if I want to take him to a city-owned dog park.

That is so not "dog-friendly".

Teddy's first visit to the Shaw dog park.
The closest designated public dog space is the Congressional Cemetery in the Capitol Hill section of SE. I still have to cross the bridge and frankly there is something creepy about letting my dog play, urinate and unload his "chicken nuggets" on tombstones.  Call me superstitious but I don't feel like Teddy and I need to dodge tombstones, sinkholes, and possibly zombies just so he can get his tinkle on.  It doesn't help that the property isn't really fenced in properly for smaller dogs intent on escaping.

There has been controversy in the news as of late about Mayor Fenty spending $400,000 on a dog park while cutting back on social services. I support the Mayor on this - I want a dog park!  I know not everyone is going to agree (publicly anyway) with what I am about to say but I am going to say it.  A big portion of my taxes already go to support the public education and services of  children I do not have (because I can't afford them and I really don't want any) and for a "safety net" that I don't get to use.  My safety net is spelled "J-O-B" and when I didn't have a job for 18 months my lifestyle was mostly sponsored by my fallback safety net  "H-U-S-T-L-E". I'm not asking for a rebate on my taxes because I am not taking advantage of all these city services (which are paid for with my tax dollars) so for those who keep wanting to make an issue out of dog park vs. more funds for social services (which I know are getting more than 400k) please throw us with a dog a bone, especially those of us without dependents who consider our furry friends our babies.

" Maybe, next year Santa will bring me a dog park." *sigh*
If I do have any concerns about DC tax dollars sponsoring a  new DC dog park it is that we don't have one single public dog park East of the River and we could really use one. There are a lot of tax paying citizens East of the River and we have dogs and we are following the law and paying the fees and we don't have a dog park in our own community that we can use. I should not have to drive 15 minutes and go over a bridge in order  to walk my dog in my own city. That is absurd and a major oversight that needs to be addressed.  There are several dog parks in Northwest which are in close proximity to one another so I think it is about time that DC set aside some dollars and invest in at least one River East dog park. I can think of several places in Ward 8 that would make a great place for a dog park - starting with the park on the corner of MLK and Malcolm X Avenue.  It would definitely make a much better use of the space than as a impromptu waiting room for the homeless turned out of the shelter at Saint Elizabeths during the day (btw this is still a huge issue that still hasn't been addressed at all by DC government or Catholic Charities).

"Did you hear that Capital Hill is getting a dog park?"
The more positive, community friendly activities we can have going on in these under utilized public spaces the less likely for drug dealing or other criminal acts to occur. It will also encourage more people to get out and enjoy their neighborhood and best of the best it may encourage other DC residents to make a commute to this side of the City so Fido can get his play on.

I propose the following:
Dear Mayor Fenty and members of the DC Council,

People East of the River have dogs.
We pay taxes.
We would like to take advantage of some of these awesome amenities that are popping up all over the city.

Can you please throw us a bone (okay I lied about the puns) and set aside some funds for an East of the River dog park? I understand that DC dog parks are managed in part by a DC dog association, there has to be a dog association  who would like to partner  with a River East community to get a dog park. Can we make that happen?

Do it for the doggies! Pretty please!

Teddy's Mommy.

P.S.  If you have any dog or pet pictures please send them in - I would love to post them. Please include the name of your little darling(s) and Ward.

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Ms. V said...

Who owns Congressional Cemetary?

Brian said...


Oxon Run would be PERFECT for a dog park. Lots of space and no one uses this park.

Terri said...

To Ms. V: Congressional Cemetery is technically owned by Christ Church, but the Association for the Preservation of Historic Congressional Cemetery (which is a lot of fun to try and put on a business card!) has a long term lease and in full charge of taking care of this beautiful place.

To Teddy's Mommy: First, LOVE your dog! What a cutie! And secondly, after reading your delightful entry, I felt compelled to mention just a couple of things. I work at Congressional Cemetery, and it's sort of an urban legend that our cemetery is a local dog park. True, there are dogs that play here, however, they pay a hefty sum every year (well, actually, their humans do...), for that privilege. The property is fully fenced, except for the area under construction right now, so it's a treat for the members of our dogwalking club to let their pups off-leash. They pay an annual fee, plus provide veterinary documentation, do 12 hours each per year of very helpful and needed volunteer work, attend an annual orientation session to review rules, etc., etc.

Forgive my OCD-ness about this issue, but I so hate it when we have to turn people away from the cemetery, when they don't know that it's a "members only" thing.

Oh...and we haven't had a zombie sighting in...gosh...a long time. :)

Great writing! Fun to read! And best of luck with the East of the River Dog Park. It's a great idea..and much needed!

The Advoc8te said...


Thank you so much for the wonderful information! It is much needed. The fee/volunteering is a great idea and makes perfect sense. To be honest I thought it was strange that there would be no feel/process involved in taking your dog to that dog park. I think part of the confusion is that it is posted on the web in several spots its an open space take your dog.

Teddy liked the dog park last time I took him and the space is beautiful but I would prefer to take him to a non tombstone property - even without zombies! lol.

Thanks for the info! :)

The Advoc8te said...

Ooops - I kept referencing the cemetary as a dog park- totally not a dog

Nichole said...

I'm on the Board of Hill Hounds, the official DPR nonprofit partner on the Kingsman Field dog park, which will be opening in September at Tennessee and D Streets NE.

It took us a few years to get Kingsman going - the process is extremely long, and there are a lot of requirements. Land has to be identified, a local nonprofit partner must sign on (it has to be near the park as the nonprofit is responsible for the care, maintenance and upkeep, as well as providing all but the most basic amenities) signatures have to be gathered, pages and pages of forms have to be submitted, the nonprofit group has to raise a certain amount of money etc.

I'm sure if you worked with your council member to identify a piece of land, and incorporated a nonprofit "friends of" group, with a dedicated group of volunteers, there could be a dog park east of the river.

I'd be happy to chat with you about the process. You can email me at if you'd like more information!