To The Daily Sun,
I recently read a letter to The Sun complaining about dogs off leash at Ahern State Park. I have been walking at Ahern, and other hiking trails in the Lakes Region, for the past seven years. When I moved to the area, I looked forward to taking my dogs to trails where they could run free, get exercise and socialize with other dogs. I didn't know many people at the time, but now I have many friends that I meet up with regularly. The dogs love to play and the people love to talk and it's a great way to get exercise and socialize at the same time.
I've met some of the nicest people while walking the trails and I am happy to call them my friends. We have talked over this issue many times in the past about leash/off-leash dog walks. Most of us feel that if our dogs are well behaved and friendly there should not be a problem. If I am approaching someone with children or dogs and they ask me if I could leash up my dogs because their dog isn't friendly, or their child is afraid of dogs, I am more than happy to do so and I even walk off the trail to give them a little more space. If they start yelling at me about leash laws, or calling the police or setting their dog on me, I get a little offended.
I am sure you have met people in the park who didn't watch their dogs closely, or didn't pick up after their animals, or left trash everywhere, because we all have met these people, but they are the minority and should everyone pay the price? If you own dogs, I am sure you are a nice person. I only ask that you let others enjoy the peace and beauty of the Lakes Region. In my opinion, there is nothing better for the soul than a quiet walk in the woods, while your lab runs ahead with a big stick in his mouth.