Doggies, go home! Your dog is canus non gratus at most of Long Island’s public properties. Forget the beach. Stay out of the park. Keep off the grass. No dogs allowed.
But there’s hope on the horizon: Nassau County’s public dog parks, providing refuge for canine companions from Roslyn to Roosevelt, Atlantic Beach to Albertson, and in between. Fresh air is good for dogs, too. Now, there’s a great idea for a sunny day.
There are six off-leash dog parks in Nassau County. More will follow if LI-Dog, the intrepid “Long Island Dog Owners Group” (lidog.org), has its way. The non-profit volunteer group run by fearless dog-lovers has been marching against Fidophobes for years, promoting reasonable, canine-friendly policies, one dog park at a time.
Despite County cutbacks, the group has managed to maneuver pledges from officials for more fenced-in places where you can take your Best Friend to meet and greet other doggies; they also raise funds for flyers and petitions to press their pro-dog campaigns and publicize dog-centered events. Some time soon, Nassau Parks Commissioner Carnell Foskey is certain to be opening more of these dog treats a stone’s throw from your home, here in Nassau County.
At a park near you today:
Christopher Morley Dog Park, 516-571-8113. Named after the famous 19th century children’s author, this Gold Coast canine playground is nestled along the border of Roslyn Estates at Christopher Morley Park, where North Shore residents swim, ice skate and barbecue. (Really, how can you not love a park named after the man who wrote a poem called “Animal Crackers”?) Placed near Morley’s relocated writer’s cabin, the dog grounds are spacious and clean, and many dogs come as well groomed as their owners, some dressed to kill — well, not literally. A French poodle and Cavalier King Charles here, a Papillon and Great Dane there. Water fountains are installed at two heights for thirsty dogs, plenty of seating. Alas, there is no separate small/large dogs area. The dog club meets here Tuesday mornings.
Bay Park Dog Park, East Rockaway, First Ave. South of Sunrise Hwy. 516-571-7245. Spacious sections for canines big and little make this the go-to park for dog people. This airy space near the water’s edge sets up some cute playground equipment for climbing and relaxing. Sand underfoot adds to the atmosphere (instead of the usual woodchips or soil) – almost like you’re right there on the beach. A fresh sea breeze beckons. Resist temptation to walk Rover outside the dog run fence without a leash; park officials (cat people?) are staked nearby to write your ticket. Parking is a short trek away.
Seaford-Cedar Creek Dog Park, 516-571-7470. Big dogs abound at this grand, dusty corner of the park behind the baseball diamond. There’s a thriving group of local supporters, the Cedar Creek Dog Run Assn., overseeing park upkeep. Large, mixed breed dogs and pit bulls love it here. A smaller park for pint-size pooches is less used; brave small dogs head boldly for the social scene to the big dog park or over to neighboring Wantagh. Be vigilant about leashing when you go; security patrols the park, armed with full books of tickets ready for unleashed dogs headed to/from your car. A bench was donated by CCDRA for respite; fresh water is provided. Parking at Lot #7 is perfectly positioned by the fence. Note that children under the age of 12 are not allowed, which protects both the kids and the dogs. You will no doubt meet several children, however, on your way in and out of the park, and they will be thrilled to meet your dog. Closes at dusk.
Nickerson Beach Dog Park, 516-571-7700. Merrick Rd./Wantagh Ave., Lido Beach. This is the king of all playgrounds for human children as well. Hear the waves crashing nearby? Step onto the sand and take a whiff of the fresh, salty air at this breezy corner of the county, surrounded by dunes, and you’d think you were strolling on the beach. The dog park features an obstacle course for agility drills; water fountains serve thirsty dogs. Alas, rumors to the contrary, dogs are never allowed on the beach, so forget those fantasies of romping in the surf with Sam. Admission is charged during summer high season (disguised as parking fees — get a $25 3-yr Leisure Pass to get the best discount, currently $8). Parking is convenient, set up close to dog fences. It gets windy in the cold months — this is after all on the Atlantic Ocean — but dogs don’t care. Closes at dusk.
Old Bethpage Restoration Dog Run, 1303 Round Swamp Rd, Bethpage. 516-572-8401. The county’s newest dog park, in a clearing surrounded by trees, opened in 2007. Small dogs thrive in this modest space, too modest perhaps for oversized canines. Perhaps because it’s maintained by the Museum, or perhaps because it is most popular with smaller dogs, this Dog Run is neat and carefully maintained. There are benches purchased with donated funds. A water station provides gallons of thirst-quenching rainwater. No fee for parking or admission, but the park is open only during Museum hours.
Wantagh Dog Park, 516-571-7460. Petite pooches abound: A chihuahua, a terrier/dachshund mix, sundry extroverted mongrels. Fresh water is provided. The floor here was grass, but only the turf under the tree survived the more fossorial doggie diggers. Local small dogs are fiercely loyal to this park. The dog group meets on Sundays. Parking is 100 feet from the fence, so you can’t see who (if anyone) is present, but the atmosphere is congenial. Areas for big and little dogs are separate. The big dog area is a bit smaller than the one at nearby Cedar Creek in Seaford. Closes at dusk.
On the drawing boards:
Massapequa’s Louden Avenue Park is the latest victory for LI-Dog. Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto announced plans last fall to open the Town’s first dog park, a 1.5-acre corner of the existing small park. Drainage and parking are in the budget, although lighting had to be been scrapped — blame hard times — so the park will close at dusk. Construction is underway. Venditto has promised benches, fresh water, and a shade structure there. Check the LI-Dog Facebook group for photos of the park status.
Eisenhower Dog Park, on the drawing board since 2008, is tentatively re-scheduled to open this Summer 2012. But you can join their Facebook page (“Dog Park At Eisenhower”) today. Cash-strapped Nassau County has already approved plans for a dog run at Eisenhower. So it’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when. Seems necessary, given that Ike owned a Weimaraner (“Heidi”). Woof!