If there is one thing Charlotte County can offer in spades, it’s beautiful places to walk – be it on your own, with kids, family, or like me, your dogs.
There are hiking and walking trails from Blacks Harbour to St. George, Saint Andrews and St. Stephen. There are also a multitude of parks – it’s one of the perks of this little corner of the world.
I walk every day, often twice, always with Freya and sometimes if there are two of us, the older gal Niobe comes along for a bimble as well. And our walking destination of choice is to me one of the most beautiful spots I’ve ever walked – the St. Stephen Rural Cemetery.
It’s peaceful (something you’d hope in, you know, a graveyard), it’s beautiful. Green all around you in summer, and the colours of the autumn have been spectacular. I find the older headstones strikingly beautiful in their grandeur and craftsmanship. Remove the grave aspect, and the wooded trails remind me hugely of walking at our cottage growing up – a place of which I have cherished memories.
Like almost every walking spot in the province, on the gates of the cemetery hangs a substantial sign which asks walkers with canine companions to do two simple things: pick up after your dog, and keep them leashed while inside the grounds. Both are simple, practical and moreover, respectful requests.
And for me, the on-leash aspect is great as Freya, for all her great qualities, mentally struggles with a dog she doesn’t know running loose around her. I rely on those who enter the cemetery to respect those simple requests. Sadly, many don’t.
And here’s the thing. While dogs running willy nilly around the cemetery does negatively impact poor Freya, she’ll be alright, and the real issue is the utter and absolute lack of respect it shows for the place itself. We don’t allow our dogs to walk on the graves, much less barrel around over them, and certainly don’t allow them to do anything less acceptable on them – despite the fact we pick-up after them.
But when individuals allow their dogs to free roam over the grounds, they are disrespecting the nature of the place itself, the rules of said place, and the others like us who treasure our time there while following the simple rules. When you allow your dog to run loose, you also cannot monitor where it may spend it’s penny, as it were – which again shows a tragic lack of respect.
The ask of keeping your dog on a leash is a simple one. I understand the desire to allow them to run and play and have a grand time – so take them to the Legion field, or the beach at low tide. There are alternate options. Use them.