I am not the kind of person who usually breaks the law. But who can resist those brown Precious Moments eyes, the excited tug on the leash, and that frantic tail wagging? If I ever get caught, there will be no way to plead innocence. Leo doesn't know he's not wanted, but I can read.

The signs are huge. They display the universal picture of a dog with a red X across it's featureless silhouette. No dogs, it proclaims, regardless of size, breed, training, or irresistibility of their puppy dog eyes. The phone number for animal control is listed on the sign with instructions to call if an offender is seen frolicking free. No one calls. The temptation of the large fenced-in area is more than we can pass up in this beautiful but decidedly anti-dog neighborhood. We call it our illegal dog park.

During the day, this field belongs to an elementary school. After four o'clock, the dog owners take over. We are, for the most part, law abiding citizens. We understand that a child might slip on a pile of dog poo if it is left in the grass. We tie plastic bags to the fence just in case one of our numbers forgets to bring clean-up supplies. If a dog digs a hole, we fill it back in so young soccer players don't twist their ankles. When our labs and collies steal the tennis balls brought by an unwitting batter attempting to practice his swing, we make our pups give them all back. So, the balls are a little slobbered on. Dog drool dries. We share the field with athletes and yoga moms. We don't bring our dogs when full scale games are underway.

Truth be told, I don't like having to break the law. I feel guilty every time I open that gate with the no dogs sign and let Leo, my adopted mini-mutt, run free. I wish I lived in Ocean Beach where the dogs romp on the beach and at Dusty Rhodes park. There are simply too many anti-dog rules in Pacific Beach and no good place for our community of pooch lovers to go. The bay-facing lawns all have time restrictions for when our four-legged friends can play and there are strict, 24-hour leash laws. Rumor has it that hefty fines are doled out to people in violation of those laws. The beaches and even the boardwalks are closed to dogs. There is no jogging on the beach with your golden retriever unless you head out before 9:00AM. There is no space to train new puppies.

Our one option is a poorly maintained, tiny dog park on Soledad Mountain Road. The place is a patch of dirt surrounded by chain-link fence. The large dog side is small enough to cause concern about fights. The location is ugly and out of the way for most residents. We'd like to be able to walk our dogs to a nice lawn for socializing and outdoor exercise. We are trying to keep our carbon footprint small. Maybe, we should join together and start a petition. Or we could have an off-leash sit-in. That would make a cute feature for the news.

I understand non-dog people's arguments for keeping parks and beaches pooch-free. Some people don't pick up after their pets. The occasional dog is badly behaved. A few dog owners have blind spots when it comes to their pets' less than adorable actions. But are all dogs really the nuisances city authorities make them out to be? The most annoying, problematic situations I've witnessed in these areas are usually attributed to people: inebriated people, toxic smoke exhaling people, inattentive to their undisciplined children people, and litter-bug people.

Whenever I sneak over to the illegal dog park, the atmosphere of community is what strikes me most. Sure it's a pleasure to see all the different sized dogs gleefully chasing and playing, but their people are happy as well. We chat about the neighborhood, swap tips for pet care, tell comic antidotes about our animals, and share the common language of high-pitched doggie talk. If you come at the same time each day, you'll start learning names and recognizing faces. There's the aging bulldog who comes just to nudge his oversized ball around. His owner brings him in a wagon. The three-legged toy poodle tries to keep up with the chihuahuas. Leo likes to carry around forgotten water bottles and is known for his disproportionally giant ears. Children join in the fun as they shout over their shoulders for their parents to watch each pups' antics.

In our modern society, marked by isolation and the dwindling sense of community, we should celebrate the activities that get us outdoors and mingling with our neighbors. Instead of putting up regulation signs, the city should invest in providing us with more places to go. Dog parks are a vital part of a quality neighborhood. After all, there isn't room for every dog owner to move to Ocean Beach.

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Comments

Grasca June 24, 2010 @ 5:07 p.m.

http://www.sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation/general-info/dogs.shtml

Dog owners in some areas have formed non profit groups and contribute to the upkeep of their local legal off leash parks. Perhaps the dog owners near Capehart Park in Pacific Beach could do the same thing ?

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CuddleFish June 24, 2010 @ 6:25 p.m.

The reason there is no dog park in your neighborhood is because your neighborhood didn't want one. I'm sorry you don't respect your neighbors, or the law. I'm most sorry for the dogs whose owners never considered this issue before they acquired either the dog or the home, it's not their fault, but they are the ones who pay for their owners' decisions.

BTW, the reason that dog park is bare dirt is because dogs tear up turf, virtually every dog park has bare dirt, so I hear.

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Grasca June 24, 2010 @ 8:07 p.m.

Some dogs parks have been reseeded multiple times at taxpayer expense. There is a lot of extra maintenance required at dog parks which also costs staff time and our taxpayer money. The dog parks where the owners help with the maintenance and getting extras like dog water fountains, extra benches, and shade structures are generally much nicer because the people care about their park. I think it is disgusting to use a children's playground for an illegal off leash park. I am sure not every bit of you know what is picked up. There is an off leash site at Dusty Rhodes Park which is not that far from PB and Fiesta Island is close and legally off leash with a huge fenced area. Anyone who is complaining and also breaking the law needs to examine their conscience.

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thestoryteller June 24, 2010 @ 8:20 p.m.

There are plenty of dog parks around. You do have a choice. Be willing to take your dog a bit further, rather than take him where he doesn't belong. And anyway, walking is good for you too.

The Mayflower and RB dog parks have grass. Why pay for it? Dogs don't care.

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nan shartel June 25, 2010 @ 1:59 a.m.

POOR WEE DOGGIES AND OWNERS

I GUESS IN SD DOGS DON'T RULE

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Bisker June 29, 2010 @ 9:21 a.m.

This blog is a sad statement on our society. The writer knows the law but breaks it anyway, just like most of us do on a daily basis. The problem isn't lack of laws, it's lack of enforcement. As long as there is no penalty for her actions the author, and the rest of us, will keep doing what we're doing.

Posted signs are useless, as our author notes, she can read, but she takes her dog anyway. True for most of us, posted speed is 65, but hey I can do 75 without a problem.

I get upset when I see people disregarding the law, until I remember I'm right there too. Unfortunately I think we are slowly slipping towards anarchy, I know a harsh term, but seriously, as people do as they which without regard for the law isn't that where we are headed?

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nan shartel June 29, 2010 @ 10:11 a.m.

maybe we do what we want whether others approve or not...of course that's uncivilized..but that could lead to anarchy...the dismissal of all social values and rules legal or implicit

where to take ones doggie for a romp in a population dense city is confusing isn't it?!

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Bisker June 30, 2010 @ 4 p.m.

Not really nan, take the dog to the designated area for dogs, pretty simple. AS long as no one makes me drive the limit.

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thestoryteller June 30, 2010 @ 5:18 p.m.

Hey Bisker, I'm voting for you for president. What a crazy world we have! In the 60s and 70s, when I grew up, no one would have guessed that we'd tussle over whether people had to follow the law or not. Take the illegal aliens--should we make them follow the law? The nerve of us for even thinking such a thing! They are special. They are entitled to their "rights." Back then, people, particularly the city council, would have backed the law, no question. You don't like the law? Think we're racists? F you, go home!"

Unfortunately, due to that ugly word greed, insanity rulesin our country.

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ccdogpark July 6, 2010 @ 7:09 a.m.

Subject: Dusty Rhodes DP incurs 5th fatality in 7 years !!!

From San Diego, San Diego County, California

And some of you wonder why I say: "poorly designed dog parks are dangerous !!!"

5 dogs killed, and all of them small dogs. Well that certainly is a coincidence, ehh.

It is hard to put into words how angry these stories make me, but I should probably take some time and calm down before posting my online comments.

This young girl was apparently bringing this extremely tiny dog in with large dogs on a regular basis and it's eventual death was inevitable in my opinion.

California is one of the states with the most dogparks but the number using electronic access cards to try and make them safer, is still ZERO (0).

I wonder how many dogs will die at this park before someone re-evaluates what they are doing (?)

Bill Zardus http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Dogpark-National-News/

http://obrag.org/?p=21956&cpage=1#comment-41286 Dusty Rhodes Dog Park Troubles by Staff on July 5, 2010 in Culture, Environment, Ocean Beach

We received a troubling message from Dusty Rhodes Dog Park Friends late last week who wanted us to broadcast a reminder to all participants at that dog park to be especially cautious with any of their small dogs.

The appeal:

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t bring your dogs to this park if they are in any way unsocialized or aggressive. And please don’t bring your smaller to medium sized dogs to this park as it can be extremely unsafe and even fatal. According to the vet this isn’t the first time a small dog has been brutally killed at these types of parks. Also watch out for that Husky as it is likely dangerous towards other pets now.

I would hate for anyone to be going through what I am going through. That dog was my baby, he was a part of our family. We are all beyond upset, including our other dog; his best friend. This was our little family. Know your rights. There is very little action that can be done. Dogs are considered personal property. Dogs need to be more protected than this. They are family members to most people, as ours was to us.

Carrie Garrett

For more info contact dogparkfriends@ cox.net

----------- End Of Story -----------

"Zeus is the fifth small dog to be fatally attacked at this dog park in the seven years it has been open." unquote Wow ! Whoever is responsible for this mess, must be a complete moron.

I am amazed this young woman would bring that tiny dog into a dogpark with large dogs. And then of course she wants to blame this incident on everyone but herself.

If it was up to me, dopes like Carrie would be prosecuted for abusing their own dog.

Bill Zardus ..... ccdogpark at YahooDotCom ...... http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Dogpark-National-News/

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