When we first moved to our new town this summer, I was disappointed that there wasn't a dog park nearby. Living in a townhome surrounded by public greenspaces instead of a fenced yard means we can't just open up the back door and let the dogs out anymore. After a few weeks without uninhibited dog play (circling and tangling up neighbors' leashes while on walks doesn't give quite the same level of satisfaction), I think Baxter and Kirby were starting to get a bit of cabin fever. So we were pleased to find out that the new Hondo Dog Park in Hillsboro, Oregon, slated for a grand opening event this coming weekend, is already open for business.
We made a play date this afternoon with one of our new neighbors and her two little schnauzers, loaded up the dogs and headed for the Hondo.
All I can say is "wow." That is one beautiful dog park. The large, grassy area is encircled by a pea-gravel walking path and a series of park benches. A hill in the middle gives the dogs a bit of extra exercise and the big doggy drinking fountain was a hub of social activity for both canines and humans on this sunny day. There's a separate, gravel-covered area for winter use (our former town's dog park basically turned into a mud-hole in the winter) and another smaller area for use by small or timid dogs. Of course, they supply plenty of poop-bags and trash cans to keep things tidy.
Standing near the aforementioned drinking fountain, I heard someone remark that a faux fire hydrant that had been in the dog park a few days ago was missing. He thought it had been stolen. Another person commented that it had been removed by the city because of concerns that dogs would pee on it (um, yeah). The issue was that this particular faux fire hydrant had the American flag painted on it and the act of a dog doing his business on the flag was something a few particularly patriotic folks just couldn't tolerate.
Just today, the Hondo Dog Park made national headlines with an AP story on that very subject.
Apparently, in the course of moving my mom from Arizona to Oregon I had missed a large write-up about the dog park in our local newspaper. The article featured a picture of a stars-and-stripes-painted fire hydrant that had been erected as a memorial to Hondo, a police dog killed in the line of duty for whom the park was named. Despite the fact that the city had gone to great lengths to make sure the fire hydrant was put on a pedestal and surrounded by prickly bushes to keep the canine leg-lifters away from the hydrant itself, enough overly-zealous (and misguided) patriots complained and the city parks department removed the star-spangled hydrant. When or where it will be placed is, to date, unknown.
So I just have a few questions. First, for the folks who put in the fire hydrant... Why a flag? You had to know that was going to cause a few problems. Any number of other motifs (even just plain old traditional fire hydrant yellow) would have honored Hondo just as well.
And second, for the misguided patriots who complained about the potential for an extremely tall dog to lift his leg on the flag: don't you know anything about dogs?
A favorite pee spot is probably one of the best memorials you could erect for a fallen canine. If Hondo were alive and able, I'm almost POSITIVE he would lift his leg on the fire hydrant, flag or not. And in the world of dogs, that would be a sort of compliment. "This spot, this wonderful, star-spangled fire hydrant, was chosen by me, Hondo, as a prime location to deposit my DNA for all other canines to enjoy and comment on."
I'm willing to bet Hondo would approve of the hydrant, with or without the flag.
So Hillsboro Parks Department -- just bring the thing back, would ya? And let the dogs do what they will. I can't think of a better way to honor Hondo over and over and over.