Even more Arboretum observations

It is not often that one finds the voice of reason and neutrality in the Letters column of any newspaper. Terry Wells offered both in last week’s “Letters” (Sept. 25.) The letter lacked the anger, hostility and outrage that often motivates one to write on a controversial subject. Instead the writer asked for reasoned judgment.

We don’t know who killed the blue heron. Maybe it was a dog. Maybe it was not.

Soon after that attack, however, reports suddenly surfaced about dog attacks and bitings of visitors to the Arboretum. I would hope that reason would prevail here and such incidents would be documented responsibly when they occur. Some tales are simply tales.

In my 35 years of walking my dogs in the Arboretum, I have never witnessed an attack. That does not mean it has never happened. Actually, I believe that most dogs challenge us for goodness and loyalty and good behavior.

But who really needs a leash around his or her neck? I call them the less-than-one-percenters: The partiers on Hemlock Hill on Friday and Saturday nights who have hurled hundreds of empty beer bottles across the top of the hill and down into the stream below every summer; the trash dumpers who leave bags in many parts of the off-road areas of the park; the errant bikers who speed down Bussey Hill and other parts of the park with no regard for safety; the dog owners who refuse to pick up after their dogs; and the children, who while on field trips, attempt to fit as many bodies as possible on the branch of a tree until it collapses.

Like renegade dogs, these are the less-than-one-percenters of any group of visitors and it is all shameful behavior.

Banning all dogs from the Arboretum is not the answer any more than banning all children’s field trips or runners or bicyclists. The less-than-one-percenters will always be among us.

If one cares, he or she needs to speak up when witnessing any of the behaviors that make this wonderful oasis something less than that. It is a treasure for all of us to enjoy. Terry Wells was right, “Let’s not make it a battlefield.”

Ron Paulus

Jamaica Plain resident

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