by Susan Drumheller
The dog days of summer have arrived and with them come the perpetual joys and challenges of socializing and training our beloved pets so they can coexist easily with others on the trails and in other public spaces.
The Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail is a favorite haunt for pups and people alike. This shoreline trail is an oasis where dogs and people can run free of leashes. But along with the intense use the trail has been getting this spring, come the complaints.
The most common is failure to pick up doggy doo-doos. Eclipsing the concern over fecal matter on the shoreline and on the trail (or those little plastic bags filled with dog turds that do not actually disappear without help) is the complaint of an overeager or even semi-aggressive dog that accosts a walker or a runner or another leashed, or better behaved, canine.
Numerous complaints have led the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail to remind all trail users that not everyone appreciates a dog barreling toward them, no matter whether it intends to lick or snap.
To drive home that message — and a couple others — the Friends of the Bay Trail will be installing signs with a few gentle reminders to keep your dog under control and to clean up after your furry companion.
Coincidentally, the city of Sandpoint is inviting residents to take a survey about dogs in parks. This was partly in response to a request that dogs be allowed at City Beach to provide a deterrent to the flocks of geese that pollute the shallow swimming area and the promenade with their own slimy droppings.
This is a fabulous idea, because the “official” trailhead of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail (“Bay Trail” for short, or — for you diehard locals out there — “Bum Jungle”) is actually at City Beach. The distance markers along the trail installed several months ago are measured from the point where the beachfront promenade in front of the Edgewater Resort meets the sidewalk that encircles City Beach.
You can see the Master Trail and Interpretive Plan on the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail website (pobtrail.org), which has a conceptual design for what that trailhead might look like. The city embraced the idea of a trailhead in its latest proposal for the makeover of City Beach, and that trailhead may also include some dedicated parking spaces for trail users.
However, dogs are well-established on the Bay Trail. That’s why it only makes sense that dogs are allowed — at least on leash — at City Beach, so that they and their owners can get to the shoreline trail and run free.
Once there, along the water’s edge and in the dappled sunlight of the forested trail, make sure your dog is under control at least by your voice, so that peace can prevail in our collective front yard.
So what would Emily Post say about dogs and people sharing the trail? After doing some research, here’s what the Friends found to be the most common dog etiquette guidelines;
• All dogs need to be under control at all times when using the trail. This means that if your dog is off leash, it should be under voice control. If this is not possible, keep your dog on a leash. Dogs should also be within sight at all times, and should not harass/chase wildlife or other dogs or people.
• Dogs should only approach other people and dogs after there has been communication with the other people. Do not let your dog run up to other people or dogs without asking first.
• Pick up after your dog. If you don’t have bags, grab a couple at the head of the trail, where they are provided for free and use them to help keep the Bay Trail beautiful and clean for all.
• If someone is trying to pass you and your dog, move yourself and your dog far enough off the trail that the other party can get by comfortably. This means bringing your dog close to you, perhaps holding it as others pass, and making sure that everyone is safe and comfortable while passing.
Susan Drumheller is president of Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail, and secretary of Trail Mix, a local collaborative group of land managers, government entities, trail groups, and others with a stake in access, maintenance and expansion of trails in Bonner County. Trail Dispatches is an educational effort of Trail Mix.