I stumbled upon a dog owner's paradise one day back in February...Heart Lake. It's a local Conservation Area that is home to a number of large picnic areas, a paved walkway that goes on for miles through park, as well as several hiking trails that weave through wooded areas and around the large lake. It operates during the summer and fall season with the usual parking and admittance fees, packed crowds of families on the weekends, and the usual 'dogs must be leashed at all times" rules and regulations. It is, however, closed for the season between Thanksgiving and Easter...closed and transformed into a wonderland for dogs.
I discovered, purely by chance, that during the off season, Heart Lake becomes an unofficial, leash free park. And it is a little slice of sunshine. Due to the expansive nature of the park, dogs can comfortably meet and frolic with one another, intermittently on a walk, without the anxiety that can sometimes accompany the forced continuous interaction that occurs in the small, confined little plots of land that are designated as leash-free zones in the city. And for less sociable dogs, the space allows for freedom without interaction if necessary. As I walked Sophie through Heart Lake on several different occasions, there was peaceful vibe that simply did not exist at the frenzied leash-free zones.
The owners are calm, courteous and genuinely enjoy spending time with their dogs. They recognize the value of what they have found at Heart Lake and make a concerted effort to leave a small footprint. By continuing to treat the conservation area, each other and the dogs with respect, we hope that those who may have cause to speak out against our use of the park in the off season will continue to quietly look the other way. And our dogs will continue know the freedom and joy of Heart Lake.
(All photos in this post, as well as many on The Charlie Project site, are from Heart Lake)
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