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17th Street Dog Park is Open

by Borderstan.com September 3, 2009 at 7:47 pm 2,331 15 Comments

Jack Evans, Adrian Fenty, Dr. Ximena Hartsock at the Inauguration of the Dog Park on 17th and S Street, NW (Photo: Luis Gomez)

From left: Jack Evans, Adrian Fenty, Mike Silverstein (chair, ANC 2B-Dupont) and Ximena Hartsock at the inauguration of the dog park today. (Photo: Luis Gomez)

Dogs enjoying the new Dog Park on 17th & S Street NW. (Photo: Luis Gomez)

Dogs and owners enjoy the special artificial turf for dogs. (Photo: Luis Gomez)

Dog fight at the inauguration of the renewed Dog Park on 17th & S Street NW. (Photo: Luis Gomez)

There was a dog fight shortly after the ribbon cutting today. (Photo: Luis Gomez)

The weather was great for the political poobahs who turned out on a sunny afternoon for the opening of the dog park at 17th-S-New Hampshire NW.

DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, Council Member Jack Evans (Ward 2) and Dr. Ximena Hartsock (Acting Director, Parks & Recreation) cut the ribbon to the converted dog park on 17th Street.

Many dogs and their owners also turned out for the dog park, which was plagued by long delays and an opening date several months after the original deadline.

Unfortunately, there was a dog fight right after the ribbon cutting. It appeared that a big dog got hold of a Chihuahua, but I don’t know if the smaller dog was hurt. One thing missing from this park is the separate area for smaller dogs that is part of the Shaw Dog Park on 11th Street NW.

One thing I hope we don’t see more of at the new dog park: a small child was running around in the middle of the dogs. Small children should never be inside an enclosed area with dogs. What if that dog had gone after the small child instead of the small dog?  Note to parents: Please read Child Safety: On Dogs, Dog Parks and Small Children.

  • kodak

    Both children and dogs need to be exposed to each other or they will only see each other as threats and act accordingly.

    The author of this post does not know the relationship the kid or its parents have with the dogs and the judgement set forth on this blog is premature.

  • mattyillini

    kodak: My husband wrote the post and we both grew up with dogs.

    I am sorry, but I strongly disagree. A parent cannot control the actions of numerous strange dogs that are running around in an excited state. A public dog park is NEVER the place to expose a small child to dogs.

    The place to expose a child to dogs is at home with YOUR DOG — not my dog or anyone else’s dog. The ONLY dog that knows your child is YOUR dog or a dog you KNOW through friends, family and neighbors. You cannot “expose” a small child to a strange dog the way you expose a small child to a new friend or neighbor.

    When you place a group of dogs together they take on pack behavior — they are pack animals, it is what they do. Part of this behavior is to chase prey. Small children can be seen as prey. Furthermore, some dogs have problems with small children and don’t like them. This can be due to the dog having been teased by small children (this is not uncommon).

    A public dog park belongs to everyone and it is for dogs. It is not a parent’s private backyard where people with children should experiment with introducing their small children to dogs.

    I realize that my response is strong. Frankly, it should be. Any parent that takes a small child into a public dog park with strange dogs needs a serous warning about the real danger their child is facing.

    A coworker lives in Fairfax County where NO CHILD UNDER AGE 10 is ever allowed inside the fenced area of the county’s public dog parks — and that should be the rule in DC. She has a small child and also has had dogs her entire life. When I told her about the people who sometimes bring small children inside the enclosed area at Shaw Dog Park, she was mortified. Note: Go to Shaw Dog Park on 11 Street NW and read the warning signs there about the dangers of taking small children inside the park.

    You need to know about a tragic incident that occurred yesterday right after the ribbon cutting at the new dog park. A large dog attacked a small dog and had to be pulled off the small dog. The small dog was hurt pretty badly, according to two people. You should understand that it could have been a small child that was badly hurt instead of a small dog.

    If you have small children, I strongly suggest you consult a dog trainer for advice. You are putting your child in danger.

    Please read the comments at this posting: http://borderstan.com/2009/05/13/child-safety-on-dogs-dog-parks-and-small-children/

  • MD

    A dog park is for dogs – plain and simple. In your own private backyard having your small child run around with dogs is completely your choice and exposing your children to dogs that way is perfectly fine. Many owners of small dogs are often concerned about their little dogs in the presence of bigger breeds, so the idea of having a child run around among dogs that they are not familiar with is beyond comprehension to me.

  • Rebecca

    It is important to introduce children and dogs but NOT at a dog park. Mattyillini is right—children can become prey in these situations, especially because they tend to run away if they become frightened, or make high-pitched squeals in excitement or fear, like small animals. Even if the dogs see the child as another pack member they may try to mount the child in dominance behavior.
    Take some item to teach your kids how to approach dogs correctly and safely—when they are old enough to do that—and until then, limit their contact to dogs you know in situations where you have control. Otherwise, you’re risking possible tragedy for the child AND the dog, and that is not fair to either.

  • Sean

    Mattyilinni is 100% right on this topic. Children, especially those under ten really should not be in dog parks. While your dog may be friendly, there are many dogs out there who are just not used to children and even those who just don’t care to be around children. If you bring a child to a park such as this you are needlessly exposing your child to danger.

    I completely agree with the poster above in that there should be rules against young children in the park. There was a couple again this morning who brought their toddler in a stroller into the park, and I worried for the safety of the child every time it’s squeels attracted the attention of the dogs in the park. I know the parents may have just been unaware of the dangers they were putting their child in, and there will be others like them. The best way to avoid a potential tragedy is just to have a rule against small children being allowed into the park.

  • Reader

    Rebecca is exactly right. As the parent of two young kids, I see it as plain common sense to keep them and groups of dogs at a respectful distance from each other. We approach dogs only if we’re in a one-on-one situation that can largely be controlled. Dogs’ behavior in groups is ruled by animal instincts; trained behavior may not hold up. Young kids are in a development stage where they lack self-control and they don’t necessarily understand when they’re hurting a dog. Spending time around strange dogs isn’t going change this–only time and development will. Given how unpredictable dog/little kid interaction can be as a result, better to let the dogs and kids each have their own space.

  • Jessica

    First, the small dog was provoking the ‘large’ (read, 40lb) dog by yapping in its (and every other dogs) face without the owner of small dog caring. Knowing that smaller dog who constantly yaps and lunges in my dogs face, I have a hard time being completely sympathetic when a dog owner thinks it’s “cute” or even acceptable for a dog to behave that way towards another dog. If my 90lb dog behaved that way, I’d surely have a lot of people on my a$$ about it. But we tolerate it in tiny dogs why? unacceptable behavior is unacceptable no matter the breed. And knowing the dog that responded poorly to the small dog, I’ve never seen her react that way in any circumstance – ever.

    That said, there will be a no children rule in the park, a rule board just has to be posted reflecting the rules specifically designed for a smaller park such as ours. It has been difficult to organize things such as this due to not knowing the park opening date and the difficulty in continuity at DPR.

  • Jessica – are you serious? This is the attitude from one of the Circle Dog Board members? I’m totally stunned. And totally happy I kept Sammy and Thora far away from that chaos yesterday.

    What you seem to be forgetting is that no matter what we think about animals, they are still animals. Just because you have never seen the dog from the Humane Society behave that way before, doesn’t mean that it’s not going to encounter one dog that makes it behave in a manner totally opposite of what you’ve seen before. I cannot believe you would pin the blame on a 2 lb. chihuahua. Animals are animals and we need to remember that. As humans, we have to take all the proper precautions, even if “our dog never did that before!”

    And try to remember there is a dog and its owner – one of our friends and neighbors – in serious emotional and physical distress right now, and have some compassion.

  • Jessica

    I feel bad for BOTH dogs. And yes, humans do need to take precautions including not having the humane society there (which I was a proponent of but the City was not) and knowing at least moderately proper behavior. I’m not blaming anyone, I have an opinion outside of my trying to organize things so the park can be maintained. Which I am allowed to have. Including one based on how another dog has reacted to my dog (unprovoked, whenever they see her, even across the street) when nothing is done by the other owner to stop it.

    While no dog should have that happen to them (even though my dog has, by a smaller dog in that same park because their owner thought it was normal), and I feel bad for both parties, there is something to be said for knowing the limit of your own dog in a crowded space (and this includes any dog, shelter or not). I know that my dog will never like dogs barking in her face because it is threatening behavior to most dogs.

    And yes, animals are animals. No dog should go through that – including a dog that could be put down for the incident. A large portion of responsibility certainly lies with the shelter, regardless of whether they were following City law in taking the dogs off leash. But people’s opinion would be different if in the rushing pack of dogs, it was a different one that got to the victim before the shelter dog, because that one would have an owner too.

  • Desi’s Mom


    If you have something to say to ME then you say it to ME. I heard you were blogging about Desi and I wrote you a PERSONAL email on Facebook earlier this evening that was thoughtful and well-measured, while still being emotional. Why don’t you get off this blog and READ it.
    And by the way the attack was not about YOU or YOUR dog. It was about Desi and a humane society dog that attacked him, unwarranted, outta nowhere. And yet I am still SICK that a dog had to die. OKAY? Satisfied?? Desi barked at her because he was SCARED. I even yelled at DESI for barking at her at first. He weighs 4.5 pounds and his bark is his ONLY defense against a perceived attack. Again, read my PERSONAL email to you. Then take a few minutes, and THINK about it. Then shut the hell up on this blog about Desi. He’s been through HELL, I’VE been through HELL. Leave it, and us, and my name, and Desi’s name, alone.

    signed, LIZ GRADY , DESI’S MOM – who lives at 1631 S Street and doesn’t care who knows it. And btw he’s recovering like a real trooper, thank you very much, and passed many a dog on his first walk today, stitched up with a rubber tube through his tiny neck, on major pain meds, and was perfectly well-behaved. I call that pretty brave.

  • Julia

    Desi’s Mom,
    I am so relieved to hear that he’s making a good recovery! I was at the dog park during the attack and I have been thinking worriedly of Desi ever since. You and I don’t know each other aside from a few random times I’ve petted him, but I just wanted you to know that he was in my thoughts. 🙂 I am just so happy to know that’s he’s coming through this! He is a brave little dog! Good luck to him (and you)!!

  • Concerned Neighbor

    I totally agree that everyone has a right to their opinion, it is America after all. What I do have a problem with in this modern era, is that everyone has to know what your opinion is. Between the many FaceBook entries, the many blog entries and the many emails that I have read or heard about within the last week concerning Desi’s attack, I think we are shooting ourselves in the foot. I just have to say something, because I have been silent too long. How are we to foster a positive image of our great park and community, when there is so much in-fighting among the very people who live here and have lived here and have been through the process of even having the park built? I appreciate drive and ambition, but not at the cost of alienating the core part of our community. It is time to pull together and send our well wishes to Desi and Desi’s Mom, and pull the neighborhood back together to the support our community and the purpose of the park.

  • Desi’s Mom

    Thank you Julia. And thank you concerned neighbor. I can’t tell you how much it means.

  • Jessica – Yes you’re allowed to have your opinion. Though I fail how it applies here to this post. The writers used this opportunity to bring awareness to the park opening and bring about the discussion of children in the dog park. The mention of the fight was a very small aside. But you hijacked the comments of this post to spout your personal opinion. This was not the forum for it. And even if it was, what did you accomplish? Alienating a lot of the long timers here in Dupont.

    I officially miss the dust bowl that this park used to be.

  • Sherry

    Hello to All,

    I am creating a short video on the new dog park in Dupont Circle. I would like to interview people who are for and against the park being opened. If you are interested, please email me at [email protected]



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