Thursday, July 21, 2011

Are Dogs Allowed on Wellfleet Beaches?

I’ve been thinking a lot about dogs ever since I wrote the review of Caitlin Horrocks’s short story collection This Is Not Your City. In “Steal Small,” the heroine’s boyfriend “bunches” dogs. I may be naïve but I had no idea people, in this tough economy, would turn to collecting animals for sale to laboratories to earn rent money. The more I think about it, the more abhorrent the whole idea becomes. I should specify that I’m not a dog person, although my family did own a marvelous fox terrier named Acey in Washington, DC where I grew up. In France, cats seemed more sensible for my children, so cats it was. Now, with Sven being allergic to animals, I have neither cats nor dogs, although we do enjoy watching dogs play on the beach here, especially in the off-season when Catch-the-Frisbee seems the game of choice.

Usually, in summer, our quiet woods reverberate with yelps and howls at the beginning of every week as tenants settle into nearby rentals. The sounds abate as the pets become accustomed to new surroundings.

Sometimes we see folks out on Old King’s Highway, walking dogs. Dogs, who have been to the beach already, seem to prefer beach-walking.

Wellfleet has strict rules regarding dogs at town beaches. Dogs are not allowed on the bay, or Duck Harbor. (This is a new regulation, voted in a few months ago to protect aquaculture after a particularly loud outcry from the community.) Dogs are also not welcome at the fresh water ponds. On the other hand, you can take your dog to an ocean beach as long as he/she is on a leash and you are willing to stay outside the guarded area during the day. The National Seashore applies the same rules at its ocean beaches.

Anyone who is not familiar with this rule, say at Mayo Beach, might be tempted to leave a pet in a car. When I see dogs in cars, I feel very sorry for them. In 90-degree heat, such behavior is definitely not cool. But what if someone has parked behind town hall and is running into Wellfleet Marketplace for a bottle of milk?

Should dogs be left in cars while their owners shop in town? This week Roxanne, over at Champion of My Heart asks that question. In fact, she took a poll to find out what readers thought. Check out the results and, while you are there discovering Roxanne’s tremendous blog about her dog Lilly, read about her Never Shock a Puppy campaign, then click through and vote in the Petties Awards for Champion of My Heart as Best Dog Blog. Lily will thank you with lots of wet kisses!