Keeping your dogs safe in summer heat starts now
As summer begins and the weather gets warmer, it becomes more and more important to keep an eye on the health of our pet dogs to protect against heat-related illness and to make sure they are safe when inside vehicles. While many people might guess that the most common time for dogs to be treated at the MSPCA hospital for heat stroke is in August, the beginning of the summer is actually the most common time for pets to overheat.
Rob Halpin, spokesperson for MSPCA-Angell, says that for a dog who’s been pretty inactive all winter and late spring, it is a rude wake up call for the dog to be much more active in the warmer weather because they’re not prepared for the increased activity or weather.
“Now is a time to be cautious and slowly acclimate our dogs to heating weather with plenty of walk breaks, drinks of water, and hanging out in the shade,” Halpin said.
Another problem related to dogs and the summer is leaving dogs unattended for an extended period of time in a car with the windows up. A recent law gives first responders and citizens the license to forcefully enter a car if it is “reasonably necessary to prevent imminent danger or harm to the animal.” A bystander who observes a dog stuck in the car that is concerned for its health should call 911, check to see if the door is unlocked, and make an effort to locate the owner before forcefully entering the car.
Last summer, a dog died in Jamaica Plain as a result of being locked in a hot car near Jamaica Pond.
Halpin also urges residents to consider adopting a pet from your local animal shelter this summer, as it is a perfect time for families to adjust to a new pet before the school year starts.
“Whether you’re adopting a dog, cat, or small animal you could easily buy at the pet store, those animals are always at your local animal shelter,” Halpin said. “You save two lives – the animal that you give a home and the animal who needs to occupy that cage after.”
Brookside Walk and Train to open brick-and-mortar center
Brookside Walk and Train is expanding its services by opening a new brick-and-mortar training center at 3385 Washington St. The center is expected to open sometime this summer.
Brookside Walk and Train currently provides walking and boarding services with some training. The business works closely with owners to ensure success.
“Training the owner is critical to the success of forming a positive, balanced relationship with their dog,” said Dinyee Boose, owner of Brookside Walk and Train. “When adopting from a shelter or rescue group, rarely do you know the dog’s history; where it lived, how it was treated, all elements that have shaped the dog’s current mindset and behaviors. You can have a well-trained dog, but if the owner is not educated on how to appropriately interact and handle the dog, behavioral issues will definitely arise.”
The new location will allow Brookside Walk and Train to continue these services but also add structured daycare, day school and training lessons for clients with their dogs. Eventually, Boose plans on offering classes.
The business will also host educational lectures and demonstrations with other professional trainers, as well as have local artists’ work on display.
Boose currently resides in West Roxbury, but has lived in JP for 18 years and says she is excited to have found the space in the neighborhood.
“I’m looking forward to again being a member of this community and creating a community-based space based on education and the arts,” Boose said.
Boose graduated from Tufts and the Museum School in 2001, and started walking dogs and doing odd jobs in order to spend time painting in her JP studio. In 2003, she started walking for another dog walking company and returned to school at nights. She became interested in dog training and started to learn under some local trainers.
“I had the ability to deal with difficult and your more complicated dogs,” Boose said.
After six months of study with them, Boose started raising and training German shepherd puppies for the police department.
Boose didn’t stop her education there though, and continues to improve her skills by reading, watching other dog trainers, attending seminars, and by the experience she gains every time she works with a dog.
The business currently employs six walkers and will be adding to the staff once the space becomes operational.
Training sessions take place in parks but Boose says that as dogs and owners progress in their relationship, they move along to more challenging environments like visiting local dog-friendly shops or riding the T or the bus.
“Training is not just about obedience like sit, down, or come, it is critical to learning dog behavior,” Boose said. “Learn how to read a dog’s expressions and body language to understand what they are trying to tell you. Dogs do not speak English and people do not speak canine. Professional training is essentially you and your dog learning to speak a common language.”
JP dog park remains elusive
In the slow-moving process to establish a dog park in Jamaica Plain, residents have been disappointed in the lack of progress. Meanwhile, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) keeps pushing back a public meeting on a potential dog park on DCR land.
Jamaica Plain had an unofficial dog park at Beecher Street Park before the City shut it down in the summer of 2016 due to complaints from neighbors. Dog park advocates began searching for another site, and consider the Southwest Corridor Park a prime area. Troy Wall, spokesperson of DCR, said that since the desire for a dog park within Jamaica Plain arose, DCR has received correspondence from elected municipal and legislative officials and the Southwest Corridor Park Management Advisory Council, as well as some residents.
DCR proposed a dog park at a hockey rink on Anson Street last spring, but nixed that proposal after concerns were raised from the community. There has been little community engagement since, though residents have remained vocal about what they want.
Eliza Purvis-Lemasters wrote an email to representatives at DCR and local officials asking for an update on the plans for building a local off-leash dog park.
“It’s been almost two years since 500+ dog owners signed a petition asking for action and over a year since the hockey rink was rejected as a location,” Purvis-Lemasters wrote. “Another summer season is beginning, and those who of us want to exercise our dogs off-leash have to pay $100 to the Brookline Green Dog program, or we are out of luck.”
While the push to start a dog park started years ago, dating back to the days of Beecher Street’s unofficial dog park or even earlier, some residents are getting more involved in asking for action now.
Simona Lang, a Jamaica Plain homeowner and resident, wrote an email to DCR and various elected officials expressing her disappointment in the lack of a local dog park. Her email asked for an update on the process of identifying locations for a dog park, and suggestions for how to get a dog park established, but she hasn’t received a response from anyone about it yet.
“What’s interesting is that I’m someone who would never have thought of working on this before until it directly impacted me,” Lang said in an interview with the Gazette. “For a long time I never had pets and was never concerned with having a dog park area, but now its seeming more and more likely that I will be a dog parent and it really opened my eyes to things I hadn’t considered at all.”
DCR says that it is coordinating a public meeting to happen this summer where the department will announce potential locations for an off-leash dog park for the public to utilize. The state agency has hired a consultant to conduct field investigations, and says that it is now in the process of evaluating potential sites and preparing conceptual designs for the neighborhood and area stakeholders to review, which is what DCR Commissioner Leo Roy said in a letter dated March 12 this year. That letter, addressed to interested parties, said that the department anticipated holding a public meeting this spring. As the first day of summer rolls past, a meeting still has not happened.
DCR says after the Anson St. proposal was rejected, the slow pace is to provide a more thorough and deliberative process regarding the potential construction of a dog park in the neighborhood.
“The Department of Conservation and Recreation and its consultant continue to make significant progress reviewing sites for a potential dog park on agency managed land within the Jamaica Plain neighborhood, and the Department is currently in the process of planning a public meeting to take place this summer,” said Wall.
The MSPCA has a small private area where they allow residents to run their dogs, but said that it is becoming very overused.
“In broad strokes, we support the addition of public dog parks in JP,” Rob Halpin of MSPCA said. “Many of us work and also live in JP. There are lots of dogs here, just like other neighborhoods that make it work, we should be able to as well. We have a fenced in area in front of our property that is open for people who want to run our dogs. Like many of our public spaces, they get worn down really quickly. At this point it’s just dirt and mud because it’s under such demand. We would love to see the community sort out their differences and embrace a dog park.”
City Councilor Matt O’Malley has been involved in the search to find and establish a dog park in Jamaica Plain since prior to the Beecher Street Park’s end.
“The Councilor [O’Malley] is still committed to establishing a dog park in JP and will work with Boston Parks and the Department of Conservation and Recreation to identify potential sites,” said Will Poff-Webster, O’Malley’s legislative aide. “While he’s disappointed that the potential site along the Southwest Corridor fell through due to a lack of interest, he will absolutely need fellow proponents to help identify potential areas, build support, and make this a reality.”
Once the DCR is ready to announce its scheduling of a future public meeting, a notice will be sent to those who have requested notifications regarding a dog park in Jamaica Plain. Additionally, a notice will be sent to the local media, and will be posted on the agency’s website. For those interested in receiving the notice, individuals can request to do so by emailing the agency at [email protected].