While most parks are reserved for humans, a small but cherished bit of land has been carved out of Wantagh Park and Cedar Creek Park in Seaford for canine pleasure. These dog parks provide a place to stretch “all your legs,” and make friendships for both species.
“You get to socialize with like minded people,” said Chris Laubis of LI Dogs, a group that advocates the use of more parkland for dog owners and their dogs, She began taking her dog Casey to both dog parks at four months of age, going “three or four times a week. Puppies are very active and these parks provide a lot of exercise for your dog. It is also a wonderful opportunity to help socialize dogs,” she explained.
There are five dog parks within the Nassau County Park system, two right here in the Wantagh and Seaford area. Dogs must be on a leash en route to the dog run and cannot be walked through parks.
Cedar Creek Dog Park, located in the most southerly area of the park, has a separate area for big and small dogs. Stanley Drucker of Seaford brings his two dogs - Mario, part Australian Shephard and Missy, an American Lab mix, to exercise in the big dog area. “It’s nice,” said Drucker. He comes both at various times during the week but added that the park “gets very busy on weekends. There could be 50 to 100 dogs.”
Clare and Bill Storm take their six Chihuahuas to Wantagh Park. There the family can carouse in the fenced in area built for small dogs. “We come early before the other dogs arrive. Otherwise they bark, especially if they see the bigger dogs in the other area,” said Clare referring to the fenced in area for larger dogs. “They have each other and don’t socialize well.”
“They are their own pack,” added Bill.
The six dogs - Coco and Vanilla and their four pups - George T, Marshmellow, Taffy and Munchkin - spend most of their time “sniffing out the other dogs. It makes them go crazy but they love it,” said Bill.
The Storms said that while the dog park was fun, “there is too much dirt and the dogs need a bath.” They would prefer more grass and some water for the dogs. “Most people clean up but it’s still messy,” said Clare.
Drucker said he would like to see “a hose to clean the dogs. For some reason they removed it when improvements were made.” Additionally, “the water fountains are too low.”
Bruce Piel, Executive Director of PARCNassau, a watchdog group that advocates for parks and preserves in Nassau County said “It’s a very nice idea and very popular but the dog parks look like h--l. The grass gets ruined and there is no one to re-seed. You could have asphalt or pavement which would make it easier to clean, just hose it off,” said Piel. Additionally, the dog runs should “have a legitimate shelter and running water.”
Drucker agreed adding that “a canopy on both sides of the dog park would be helpful to avoid sunburn.”
While grass is the most popular surface used in a dog park Laubis said “it does turn to dirt or sand. Remember you have a lot of dogs running around, tumbling and playing.” She said a new kind of surface - woodchips - were used at the new Town of Oyster Bay dog Park in Massapequa.
Meanwhile Laubis and other members of LI Dog Owners will continue to advocate for more use of the parklands for humans and their canine companions. “I pay taxes in Nassau County and I can’t walk my dog in the parks or even walk my dog to the dog park,” said Laubis. “Suffolk is ahead of the curve on this issue and we hope that Nassau will soon follow. There is still much to do.”