Beagle on a leash
Beagle on a leash

By Robb Murray

Dear Unleashed,

Hey there! Hi! Hello! It’s Robb. You may have seen me around the park walking an elderly and delightfully crabby beagle. How’s it going?

OK, anyhoo …

Look, this doesn’t need to get awkward, but something needs to be said here. Because, while you may have done an excellent job at training your dog to be obedient, you’ve doing a less-than-stellar job of being a thoughtful and considerate community member. Spring Lake Park, after all, is NOT a dog park, and your dog is not supposed to be running off leash.

Don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not saying you’re a stain on the city of North Mankato. I’m not saying there’s a special place in hell for people who refuse to leash their dogs in public spaces. No, nothing like that. I’m sure you’re wonderful and personable. And hey, anyone who loves their dog enough to train them to be canine rock stars is, in my book, someone I can hang with.

Spring Lake Park, after all, is NOT a dog park, and your dog is not supposed to be running off leash.

I get that you’ve worked some animal magic with Milo (this is a fictional name here to protect the innocent doggo), and from what I can see he’s truly one of the best-trained dogs in town. Brings that ball right back. Sticks by your side. Friendly to all. For that I applaud you.

But listen, here’s the thing: Your dog isn’t the dog I’m worried about. I’m worried about my dog. I’m worried about the anxious Chihuahua afraid of bigger dogs. I’m worried about the wary Weimeraner still getting used to the idea of socializing with other animals. I’m worried about the new pet owner who did the right thing and brought a shelter animal into their family and is now for the first time testing the waters of dog walking.

Spring Lake Park is a melting pot of all types of dogs and dog owners. Not every dog is at Milo’s level, and not every dog owner is at your level. You need to understand and respect that.

Every time your dog approaches another dog unattended, you’re putting both dogs at risk. And while you may have every confidence Milo may behave like a perfect gentledog, I don’t, and the other dog owners don’t, either. Even if Milo trots up all happy and smiley, another dog may brace for a fight at the sight of an approaching adversary. And let’s face it: any dog can go rogue at any time, we’ve all heard the horror stories of pets that were angels for years and then one day …

Frankly, I’m surprised I even need to explain this to you.

There’s also the issue of the city ordinance. I don’t think anyone who has been to Spring Lake Park believes those signs — the ones reminding us there are fines for failing to clean up animal waste or to properly leash your pet — were put up coincidentally. No, they showed up because some people (you) haven’t been following the rules.

I’d advise you to be wary of losing our dog privileges in beautiful Spring Lake Park — after all, it’s only been a few years that we’ve been allowed to walk dogs there. But something tells me that a new city ordinance banning dogs from the park won’t exactly be a deterrent for you; seems you feel above the rules here.

Anyway, I’m just asking you to reconsider. I love the park, love seeing so many happy dogs. It’d be a shame if they couldn’t enjoy it anymore because you treat the place like a dog park.

So anyway … I guess I’ll see you at the park!