We believe that dogs can rehabilitate and heal the wounds of isolation suffered by people: they do profit to the self esteem of their guardians, and awaken the capacity to enjoy and participate in those who, in the throes of life’s difficulties, often feel they cannot bring forth the the strength to do so.
Dudley: simple pleasures...
New friends and neighbors.
Fairfield’s winter season leash-free beach represents an opportunity to escape the claustrophobic corners of our lives—especially during what is often the most confining and inhospitable weather of the entire year—and to leave aside… just for a while… the crushing pressures
of modern life.
In a world where all too commonly we view relentless envy and rivalry, distrust and cynicism, upheaval and separation, and ceaseless political turmoil... all as things to merely accept with a dismissive shrug, as though they were designated goals of a society—rather than as unfortunate byproducts of a needlessly competitive economic model—dogs can help break down social barriers.
Naturally social animals, dogs facilitate welcoming interactions among people, as they so actively solicit play and offer greetings.
Cazenova: the little constabulary...
We quest the off-leash beach not only to satisfy our individual dogs’ need for intra-species interaction, but to share their boundary-less sociability: to be used as a “pick-me-up” for other dogs (and their guardians) in-need. In this way, we exchange capacity for unprejudiced acceptance and free play as a healing tonic of communal kindness for one another to consume freely.The leash-free beach speaks to the soul of Fairfield as the progressive and welcoming place that it is to live and work. It creates a community center of activity where friends and neighbors gather for and to support one another: friends, who never knew each other before they met to chat about their dogs… “neighbors,” who in truth, don’t live anywhere near
The off-leash beach is something original
and splendidin our midst: a secure place to exercise and socialize our dogs and ourselves, but also a crossing to discover a whole new group of people who may become close friends because they enjoy what each other enjoys: a healthy walk with our families (some of whom have four legs)… in the company of other families. Dogs can rehabilitate and heal the wounds of isolation suffered by people: they do profit to the self esteem of their guardians, and awaken the capacity to enjoy and participate in those who, in the throes of life’s difficulties, often feel they cannot bring forth
the strength to do so.
Roxy: brake job
Socialization of the Town. Some assume that an off-leash beach is primarily for the benefit of our much-loved dogs, but experienced Fairfield beach visitors know better. The off-leash beach offers just as many benefits to humans as they do to dogs: both to dog guardians as well as the wider community. Parks of any type hold an important role in the socialization of a city; off-leash beach areas expand communication channels.
Studies have shown that people often find it easier to talk to each other with dogs as the initial focus, breaching the usual social barriers that typically might make them perceive others as “strangers.” Shirking our well-honed inhibitions, it is likely that we may be more social than society trains us to be, particularly in a competitive, nationally regarded sub-urban environment like Fairfield County. Dogs act as a social “ice breaker” and help people strike up friendly conversations with our dogs as a neutral topic: quickly pushing aside hesitancy, judgment or skepticism we might often have toward a complete stranger. Off-leash beach users also benefit from the impromptu opportunity to ask questions of other guardians and discuss solutions to problems they might be experiencing with their dogs.
Pippin & Sammy: in hot pursuit, of a "just-met friend"
The off-leash beach creates and
sustains a social hub for the community in which people can gather and relate in friendship. These interactions help neighbors to get to know each other and to build a sense of community. It is a place where even those who do not have dogs in their families can delight in the amusing interaction of dogs at play. Is it not often true that, the grimmest day, the most hardened temperament, or the most sullen mood can be vanquished—at least for a while—when forced to compete with the sight of a blitz of dogs romping in joyful abandon, as they themselves satisfy their cravings for canine play and companionship.
Smiles will surely follow...
Coco: gently oberving Jennings Beach
Health Benefits for Dogs and their Guardians. The off-leash beach provides a place for under-exercised dogs and their guardians to workout and socialize safely, preventing them from endangering themselves and others (for example, out of the path of vehicular traffic), and proffers a valuable framework to develop better canine citizens.
Dogs need to run and recreate with their families in order to expel pent-up energy, and fullfill their urgency for stimulation and challenge. The normal physiological behavior for the canine species— roaming the countryside for miles per day— isn't typically possible in Fairfield County, and substitute behaviors like off-leash romps stimulate their “play” and “seeking” emotions.
Dogs deprived of exercise, stimulus and socialization may become problems for their guardians and the community because they are bored, and may cope through incessant barking, digging holes, destroying property, and constantly escaping. This materializes quickly for so-called "working" breeds that lack occupying stimulus. Often, they may develop timid or aggressive behaviors and become generally difficult to handle: in extreme circumstances, exhasperated guardians surrender these dogs to shelters. There, even further confined, the dog may become “reactive” to visitors— and appearing persistently over-excited— doesn't “show well.” This can create an un-defeatable cycle and, failing to adopt to the shelter environment and remaining “un-adoptable,” the unfortunate animal may be euthanized.
Kipper: ensuring that his opinion is regarded...
The well-mannered dog acquires his behavior through learned interaction with people and other animals.
To learn positive behavior, dogs need to be extracted from the painful isolation of their backyards into social situations: the setting of the off-leash beach provides this rare and cherished opportunity to become acquainted with the world-at-large, and to build civic skills.
Were our dogs able to speak our own language,
they might well tell us that they reach a peace with the world (as we often can) moreso at the off-leash beach than any other place. There it is on this planet, that they feel their most robust mentally, their fittest physically, and their most fullfilled spiritually. The psychic benefits are nearly unmeasurable, and cannot be replaced.
Charmaine: pretending to be unaware of the competition...
Dogs who are accustomed to playing with animals and people other than their guardians are more likely to be well-socialized and react positively toward strangers; and bringing dogs and owners together in neutral territory can be invaluable training to reduce fear and aggression in dogs.
Veterinarians, animal behaviorists,
dog guardians all recognize that leashed dogs are more likely to engage in conflict: a leashed dog often feels vulnerable, since he cannot "flee" a difficult situation. Often referred to (incorrectly) as "dominance aggression" and more commonly, "leash aggression," the painful emotions of fear and anxiety are at its core, and need to be better understood: a more accurate term would be "anxiety aggression". In truth, far from being safer, leashed dogs may become protective or territorial: confused, without real intent and perhaps barely being aware. Unable to properly “greet” an approaching dog (in which they normally circle each other) leashed dogs may abruptly trigger the "flight or fight" instinct: the opposite of what is desired or expected by leashing. The off-leash beach provides a setting where appropriately older puppies, work week-long shut-ins, and behaviorally challenged dogs can come in direct contact with other dogs and people and learn from immediate experience that continually tests their insecurities as unfounded.Much like a shy person whose psychiatrist suggests to "take baby steps" into the social world, building social skills incrementally at the off-leash beach can help them to develop confidence, and be less aggressive—or shy—in each future encounter with dogs and other people. These opportunities for socialization and exercise may subsequently reduce the risks of provoked dog aggression on the street, and well-exercised puppies and dogs are less likely to develop a myriad of behavior problems that create a public nuisance.
Luna: an attack of wags and kisses...
The off-leash beach becomes society's free clinic,improving the mental heath of dogs and their guardians, whereby guardians leave with an exhausted dog that is a better neighbor: less agitated, more relaxed and easier to handle; and in general nicer to be around. A dog given the opportunity to revel in the freedom and sensory stimulation of the leash-free beach is given the chance to express his inner-soul. This, and no other like it, is to fullfill his true nature, evaporate frustration, and find biological peace; which provides a pathway to build channels for intimacy with his guardian.
The mission of the
Fairfield Fitness Council, “To promote and enhance healthy lifestyles in the areas of nutrition and physical activity,” is well served by the off-leash beach, which provides opportunity for dog owners to enjoy the outdoors and contributes to the overall physical fitness of people by encouraging them to exercise with their dogs. Many we’ve spoken with tell us that they would naught come outside in winter at all... were it not for their dog’s needs and his affection for the off-leash beach. It presents temporarily injured, elderly or disabled dog guardians unfitted of keeping pace with an accessible area to exercise their companions—who might otherwise go wanting for a workout—while in parallel, offers a place for an older, infirmed or sensory-deprived dog that is not able to cope with pavement or woods a level and safe area to exercise and escape from the grimness of day-to-day isolation at home.
Bella: freedom, to enjoy her true nature...
Responsible dog guardianship.
The leash-free beach promotes responsible dog guardianship, by minimizing off-leash animals from infringing on the rights of other community residents and beach users such as joggers, small children, and those who may be fearful of dogs. The social aspect of the off-leash beach also fosters self-policing enforcement of the basic rules of dog guardianship such as cleaning up after one’s dog and controlling its behavior.Our First Selectman has remarked that all but the sparest minority of dog guardians are conscientious and self-supervising so as to maintain the appealing environment of Fairfield beaches.Accommodating dogs and their families in a public open space has been shown to lead them to higher levels of compliance with relevant laws, and is an efficient educational venue for educating dog guardians on the importance of this issue to other constituencies
in the community-at-large.
of Public Safety. On many winter-season days—especially those of inclement weather—dog guardians and their intrepid companions are commonly the sole users of entirely deserted Fairfield beaches.Were it not for them on these fierce days, Fairfield’s crown jewel goes virtually bare of visitors.Dog guardians and their pets create an atmosphere of safety in our public beaches, and it is fair to conclude that their presence forms a fashion of “Community Watch” that helps to deter crime there and on the surrounding streets.
Bandit: thief of hearts...
“We try to inhale
the ones who are leaving.
Molly seemed to be greeting
and saying good-bye
to the sun, grass, and wind.
There was an emptiness
in the house that had never
been there before. We hurried to put away
the things of hers that were now
And less than a year later, when I had to
cope with my father's passing, I realized
there was something familiar in it...
that I was deeper
into the heart of a dark country
whose territory was not entirely unknown.
If a person who’s trying to process
a beloved parent’s demise
is so much raw human meat...
you could say that I'd already been tenderized.
Molly did this for me. She left me this brute knowledge as a kind of parting gift.
Her ashes sit in a wooden box atop the bookshelves by my bed, but this is only totem and fetish, a shaker flung by a shaman toward the relentless infinity of sky. The ashes aren’t Molly. Where we go is the one thing we can’t know, but I like to think the spirit moves on. A new kind of conversation, evokes in it each newly precious day. And memory…
The shrub shakes, as if there’s an isolated earthquake in our garden. Little clods of earth shoot out from behind it, and I can see a blur of light brown fur beyond the green. Molly’s digging. I step out onto the front stoop to get a better look. She’s gotten down to the depths of this hole, her white chest flecked with the darker dirt, paws a rhythmic blur. She backs up to assess her work, panting, circles the hole amidst the weeds, and then settles herself into it with unmistakable satisfaction, hind legs tucked beneath her, front legs crossed. Body in the shade, head in the sun, she turns her face to me, teeth glinting, tongue dripping, dark eyes serene. She smiles at me, and rests her chin on her paws. Guarding the gates to heaven.” —Billy Mernit (In Molly’s Eyes)
You can brighten the long, lonely day of a needy dog:consider volunteering at a shelter. Your used but servicable linens, towels, bathmats, or cushions can provide comfort while he waits. Need help affording veterinary care? click HERE • Find low-cost spay neuter services: click HERE
Food & Safety Recalls/FDA Advisories for Dog Foods: click HERE
To think about: American taxpayers spend more than $1 billion annually to fund municipal animal shelters.
In those facilities, 14,000 animals are killed each day, often brutally: even in archaic gas chambers...
many within merely hours of their arrival: why are they called shelters?