Regrade Park is situated in the stylish Belltown region in downtown Seattle. The park is as diminutive as the mini-mart round the corner. It is encircled by cold black railings, has wood flakes in place of a lawn and is devoid of a playing field or basketball ring. Notwithstanding its diminutive size and deficiency of facilities, nonetheless, it is jam-packed. Jam-packed by dogs. One frightening and shadowy night on a weekday, Butter, my fawn pug, saunters into the Regrade Park for what is his initial time. Butter is frightened.
Immediately I give him his freedom from the strap, he dashes away from probing dogs heading for refuge under Dorothy Smith as Smith chats with a person who looks like a regular park visitor and his Rottweiler. The Rottweiler looks very funny sporting a vest and brunette cowboy panama. “They all want to become familiar with you,” she tells my Butter, whose wrinkly facial look illustrates nothing other than trepidation. She conceals Butter beneath her legs as well as adjacent to a concrete bench. “They are interested in knowing who you are.”
The Rottweiler departs with his master as Mrs. Smith bids farewell to her pal. “I meet the same individuals here all days,” Mrs. Smith states as she looks around sporting a smile. “At times they come here even when it’s raining.” Mrs. Smith claims to know every one of the habitual park-visitors by name, and she visits the square each and every day to have fun with their dogs. She resides in an apartment house that does not permit residents to own dogs. A Spinone Italiano by the name Dawson darts up. Dawson is coming after Butter. Dawson’s holder runs after his dog. “I visit the park generally five days a week,” proclaims the hoarse voiced holder.
He articulates that he not at all used to frequent the park prior to it being fashioned into an off-leash spot – it was famous all over Belltown as a drug zone. In general, off-leash parks in the town of Seattle have created a community of park visitors who are typified by dedication. They are committed to the parks, the dogs and one other. “I do not imagine that I may possibly reside in a huge city that lacked off-leash parks,” ponders Jamal Rutzel, the chief of Citizens for Off-Leash Areas (COLA). “I have meat a horde of individuals who have held the precise equivalent idea.”
Many other parks in Seattle, I was informed by Mrs. Smith, welcome a similar horde on a daily basis. The individuals who bring their pet dogs for a walk in these off-leash areas are amongst the same individuals who put pressure on the Seattle’s government into opening dog parks ten years ago. The COLA chief informs me that the group (that is COLA) is one of the organizations that were charged with the earliest off-leash areas in the town. The Citizens for Off-Leash Areas (COLA) is constituted of volunteer dog enthusiasts who operate as wardens for off-leash areas and as links linking the off-leash users to the Seattle City Council and vice versa.
According to the COLA chief, the demand for off-leash started since there were no off-leash areas in the town and even so, the animal control officials were punishing hard those individuals who were allowing their dogs to scamper free in the parks. As such, the dog owners demanded that if the council is going to punish them for this, then it also needs to provide them with areas in which to exercise their pets. This brought together a group of town dog owners to form COLA and they commenced pressurizing the parks division and the city council to set up off-leash areas.
Strolling in the direction of the off-leash area, the Mayor of Seattle James Nicholas gazes just about and grins. He appears to like what he observes. “Parks require additional things after open field,” he says. They require several activities: lively games, pleasure of art as well as individuals their dogs. Parks have a real role in the socialization of a city. The makeover of Regrade to become a downtown dog’s hot spot is the latest triumph chronicle for off-leash areas in Seattle. Nicholas posits that the dog owners are a approach to kicking crime away and conveying in the town’s community.
The gate to this off-leash area is mud-covered. The previous day, maybe, it was full of dust but today’s heavy mist has made the diminutive field entrance muddy. Since this park is the only park with an off-leash on this side of the town, it has a particularly wide assortment of dogs, maybe today. In a rear turn of the park there is a segment with an improvised sign that is written “petite and withdrawn dogs.” On a shadowy weeknight like this, the enclosed part is for anything other than withdrawn or introverted canines. Looking from a little long distance, it appears like the tiny dog area is illuminated by orange neon fireflies, flickering about in a hobble boogie. Arbitrarily, the fireflies appear to move about in every way, at times running directly into each other. It is shadowy in the Park; the lone life that can be seen on this premature evening is the pumpkin-tinted pixie like animals. As I move closer, I realize that these are dogs and not flies or fairies as it appeared. These dogs are sporting glow-in-the-dark necklines.
“We are the flame radiance group,” informs Joyce Perry. She seizes her dog’s flashing lapel and presents it to me to see. “When a dog acquires one, they all (dogs) must acquire theirs”, she explains. Perry is in the company of two pals, Kim James and Mary Peter, and the two are every day visitors. “A dog strolled in front of us and we happened to notice it, it had to acquire it,” says Mary. “We brought them the following day.” The darkness gripping the park starts to force the majority of the dog owners to depart. But this trio is sticking it out, for sake of their pets. “It is much more pleasurable when it is all lights out,” Kim claims. The trio tells me that they visit the park daily because in their opinion it is the best and most intimate off-leash area in the locality.
Ginny, a Gordon Setter, is combing the mud beside Ruth, Kim’s Basenji. Two French Bulldogs are also leaping into each other in the center of the triangle that the trio of dog holders has outlined. Two of the canines start to spring into each other. This shoots mud around the area. It is nearly excessively dim to make out which dog is dominant of the two. “Notwithstanding all the rumbling, the dogs are deriving pleasure,” Jones observes. Joyce adds that through this way the dogs acquire a lot more of their energy than when walking. Mary comments that the community at Regrade Park’s off-leash fashions a familiarity akin to that of a family. The visitors are characterized by their dogs.” I recognize thirty dogs here”, she quips with a giggle. “But I don’t know any of their owners by name. It is getting too dark for me to continue staying at the park. I lead Butter by its strap as we walk through the gate and out of the park.