Tracey Plantier, President
Welcome to summer in Eastham! It’s something that I think about all year long and the start of summer is filled with those warm long languid days filled with friends and family enjoying long walks, beach days, barbecues, parades, sailing, fishing, and nights in outdoor showers looking at the stars. Shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops are the only attire needed. Sometimes, a bathing suit is the first clothing on and still on long after a summer meal with friends on the deck. My husband doesn’t understand how I can do that, but I’m the true beach girl. Sand in my hair – don’t care! My best buddy is the same way – sand in his hair, paws, and mouth from a sandy tennis ball. We spend this precious summertime walking and swimming and one of his favorite activities is trying very hard to catch fish. He learned this from my nieces and nephews catching fish in their sand buckets. He looked into the bucket and a fisherman was born. When I showed this new skill to my husband – he said “how long is he going to do this?” and my answer was “as long as we let him”.
We are not the only ones enjoying this special place. The summer people (I’m one of those), swell the local population from an off-season number of approximately 5,000 to a number 5 times that size in summer. With that increase of us summer people comes summer dogs and a delicate balance plays out – enjoying this wonderful place, but also respecting this wonderful place, whether we call it our permanent home or just our temporary paradise.
As a larger dog community, we are very lucky that Eastham has a by-law that allows our dogs to be off-leash only if they are under our immediate and effective voice control. Those words “immediate and effective voice control” might be defined differently from person to person. Andi Williams, our wonderful Eastham Animal Control Officer, tests for that immediate and effective control by asking you to recall your dog. Passing this test means immediate return – no passing go, no collecting $200.00. Recall is one of the most difficult training challenges and especially difficult in a distracting setting. Successful recall is the most important skill for you and your dog to have.
This is not only important because it is Eastham’s law, but because the reliability of recalling your dog can save their life – whether that is preventing them from running into a busy road or chasing wildlife. Reliable recall also makes us great community members – an owner and dog that others can feel secure around. It is comforting to someone who is afraid of dogs or someone who is leash walking a reactive dog and sees your dog off-leash to see that you are responsible and have full control of your dog.
When someone asks you to recall your dog, your response should be immediate. Once you have your dog leashed and by your side, you can ask if there is a concern. You may find out the other person is afraid of dogs, that they just had surgery and are afraid to be knocked down, that they are walking an elderly dog that is fragile. The point is you don’t know why they have asked, so the most responsible and safe response is to recall first and ask questions later. Someone who has asked does have a reason and they are going to feel so much better and be happy with you and your dog if you comply quickly. You will also feel good because you will be respected for your responsible reaction and you have prevented a negative reaction towards you and your dog.
Summer also means to be vigilant about other safety concerns. The heat is a real danger to pets. Although bringing your pups everywhere is fun for both of you, hot cars, hot sand, and hot asphalt is not. Plan your errands carefully, when in doubt about having to leave your dog in the car, be cautious and leave them at home. If you cannot stand on the sand or asphalt without shoes, your dog can’t either.
Please respect beach and other dog community rules. It is confusing sometimes, dogs are not allowed on Eastham Bay beaches from June 15th to Labor day, but they are allowed on leash at Dyer Prince before 9:00 am and after 4:00 pm. On the National Seashore dogs on leash only are allowed during the season outside of the life guarding sections of the beach and not in piping plover nesting areas. Look for signs and obey them or ask when you don’t know. You can also refer to our website at http://www.easthamdog.org/eastham/beaches.
Of course, we know that it is our responsibility to pick-up after our dogs. A left pile is a sign of a dog owner not being responsible and not respecting the rights of others to enjoy a clean environment. When anyone breaks these rules of behavior it risks the privilege for all of us. There is nothing more valued by a dog owner than having the privilege of taking your dog into the greater community. We do not want to risk those privileges. By being a responsible dog owner, you become a role model for others, you keep your dog safe, and you make your time with your dog relaxing and fun – the way summer should be. Have a safe and fun summer with your family including the furry ones. My dog Rigby and I are putting out our “gone fishing” sign!