To the Editor:
I headed to Shoesmith Park about 8:30 Sunday morning to exercise and enjoy the fresh air. Familiar neighborhood sights and sounds played out in front of me: the sound of balls bouncing on the tennis courts; parents chasing children on scooters and young couples walking their dogs. As I crossed the intersection of 49th and Dorchester and walked west of the tennis courts I saw off in the distance, a group of about 10 adults with dogs on leashes. The doggie playgroup was in the grassy soccer field portion of the park, closer to 50th. I was exercising on the paved north area of the park.
I started my workout when I saw a dog running in my direction. Stunned, I stopped dead in my tracks and looked for an escape. In that split second I saw that no one was running after the dog. Fortunately the dog turned around and ran back to the group. I yelled to the people asking that they watch their dogs. One woman yelled back, waving her arm in what seemed to me a dismissive manner that they weren’t trying to interfere with my exercise. No apology. No I’m sorry. No recognition or acknowledgement of my fear. Nor did I see anyone leash their dog.
I resumed my exercise when out of the corner of my eye I saw another dog running too close to me. In fear, I climbed on a bench. That dog too wasn’t on a leash. That was it. I was furious. I called the University police. The police arrived (Thank you so much.) as the dogs on leashes and owners were leaving the park and walking west on 50th. I saw that the officer engaged with some of the group.
I wonder how the dog owners viewed this encounter. Did they feel that I was unduly enraged and shouldn’t have called the police? Did they see a problem with having their dogs off leash in a public park?
The municipal code of Chicago is very explicit regarding violations and fines for unrestrained dogs. There are two dog parks in walking distance of Shoesmith Park. Shoesmith is not a dog park.
Owning a dog is a privilege. I know. For 13 years I was fortunate to own a large, loving Labrador, Stormy. I know about the costs of dog food, grooming, visits to the vet, boarding, city registration, etc. I know the challenge of exercising a dog. I know the desire to ‘’socialize’’ your dog with other dogs in the neighborhood. I remember the camaraderie among other dog owners.
People, we are all neighbors. The city has used our tax dollars to fund dog parks in Hyde Park. Use them.