If you look around Rye, it seems like every fourth family has a dog. Even with all these canines around, unlike Harrison, neither Rye City or Rye Town has a legitimate, legally-sanctioned dog park.
Being the inquisitive sort, I went out recently and asked a few owners and a local politician, why there's such a lack of doggy recreational turf.
First Stop: Rye Beach
"I've asked several people on the City Council and I've never gotten a straight answer," said Beth Galansky, whose golden retriever Officer Pup frolicked in the sand with Happy, my golden retriever. "All we've ever asked for is a little bit of cordoned-off space to let our dogs run and socialize with other dogs. That's the way the species stays kind and gentle. I was told once that the City was afraid for, not only the safety of citizens-if a dog got loose-but for the dog's safety, as well."
Galansky threw a stick and her retriever ran after it. Then she cracked a wicked smile.
"Of course, last year a little dog got killed in his own driveway by a coyote. That sort of blew their argument to pieces. I mean, if you can't protect your dog at home, what are they worried about?"
Of course, I did mention that the City of Rye was very generous in allowing us dog owners to bring the family pet to the beach from November to April.
"Yes, I know and Officer Pup loves it," said Galansky. "But what do we do in the spring and summer months? Put the dog in a loincloth and a pair of shades and hope people think he's human?"
I told Galansky that this has been working for years for Ted Nugent. She didn't laugh.
Back in Rye Brook, I bumped into one Penny Nemzer, who not only owns a Bernese mountain dog and (yet another) golden retriever, but is also a veterinarian.
"I've asked for years why we don't have a dog run," said Nemzer, as her dog Stew sat obediently in front of her. "Occasionally, I let Stew run around at the baseball field at Pine Ridge Park. He just needs to let it rip every once and a while. But the other day, I came by and they put a lock on the place. A policeman once told me, they're afraid the dogs are doing to make Number Two all over the outfield. It's ridiculous. Owners clean up after their dogs everywhere else. So, why not the baseball field?"
Still, Nemzer considers herself pretty lucky.
"We, at least, have lots of places to walk our dogs anyway– as long as they're on a leash. But if Harrison can find the funds and backing for a dog run, why can't we?"
Keeping that profound, Zen-like question in mind, I spoke to Joseph Carvin, Rye Town Supervisor. He was very pleasant and informative. Yet he had no definitive answers on the subject.
"The dog issue is one that has come up often in Rye Brook, Rye City and Port Chester," said Carvin. "Basically, we're pretty lenient about enforcing the law about dogs. For instance, if your dog runs loose for a while in Crawford, as long as he doesn't bother anybody, we're okay with that. And you can also let your dog off the leash at Pine Ridge Park until 9:00 a.m. There has been some talk by the Friends Of Crawford, that we work out a deal where licensing fees for dogs might be used to build an enclosed space. But nothing has come of it. Still we're open to suggestions, if they make everyone happy."
Mr. Carvin told me to count my blessings.
"In Port Chester," he said, "you are not allowed to walk your dog through the park. Even if he's on a leash. So for Town of Rye and Rye City residents? Things could be a lot worse."
But my crusade will continue. If only for Ralph. While walking on Oakland Beach Road the other day, I saw a lovely white King Charles standing behind a wrought iron fence. His owner, who didn't wish to be identified, said she felt bad about it.
"But what else can I do?" she asked. "I'm at work most of the day and Ralph has to get some outdoor time. Maybe someday, the city will work out a place where we can let our dogs run free, in a supervised fashion. Then Ralph will be tired, and I can bring him inside for a rest. I can only hope," this woman said. "But I'm not placing any bets down."