Want to walk your dog? Move to Manhattan!

We bought our house here in Montara nine years ago. The former owners had two large dogs. We still have a “doggie door” in the deck door. Our neighbor to the right has a dog. Our neighbor to the left has a dog. Our neighbor in back has a dog as does our neighbor across the street.

This situation is typical in Montara. There are lots of dogs here, more dogs per capita, I think, than anywhere else I’ve ever lived.

I don’t have a dog but I want one. My wife wants one. So do my two daughters. But I hesitate.

Montara is surrounded by beautiful open space. Montara Mountain to one side, the ocean to the other. It’s paradise in many ways. It’s rural, somewhat remote, a place where they haven’t yet bothered to put up stop signs at many of the four-way intersections. People are friendly. It would be great to have a dog here, perhaps a perfect place for a dog.

But I don’t have a dog and I might not get one. The problem? To paraphrase Coleridge, we have parks, parks, every where but no place to walk the dog. We are surrounded by land recently acquired by the federal government which seems intent on prohibiting dogs, and if they do allow them entry dogs must be on a short leash at all times. Dog owners, from families who for generations have walked their dogs on the trails surrounding the town, are appalled.

Dog owners need that land open to their dogs. They have no alternatives. There are no dog runs, no off-leash areas anywhere within miles. There are no county parks, no city parks (since we are unincorporated), and the state beach has restrictive dog rules. Even most of our backyards are too small for dogs since Montara was developed on “substandard” lot sizes back in the days when they dreamed of turning us into another Daly City.

There are more opportunities to walk your dog in Manhattan–one of the densest population areas of the country–than in small, rural Montara. Manhattan, counting just the official New York City properties, boasts twenty-nine dog runs (some quite elaborate) and four off-leash areas. One of these off-leash areas is Central Park itself which allows dogs off-leash on most of its 850 acres. Within the park, the Central Park Conservancy (the administrator of the park) has identified twenty-three areas popular with dog walkers.

It’s hard to believe that Manhattan is more dog-friendly than Montara but there it is. We have zero dog runs, zero off-leash areas. Zero legal opportunities to walk dogs on dirt trails or grass, to play Frisbee or catch with a stick, zero opportunities to let dogs be dogs.

What a shame. I want a dog. But I can’t have one because I’ve got nowhere to walk it.


Link: New York City’s Dog-friendly Areas

Link: Central Park (Manhattan) dog walker guide


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