Early in Isis’ behavioral modification efforts, our trainer suggested we meet at the local cemetery. I thought it a strange place to take one’s dog, but was surprised to see a lot of people walking their dogs there. It’s near an official trail, so people naturally consider the graveyard to be a logical extension of an off-leash area, because there’s lots of grass and very little vehicular traffic.
I wasn’t really for it, but nor was I against it and hey, everyone was doing it.
The people that bothered me were the ones riding bicycles and even driving cars through the cemetery with their dogs running loose alongside them. A recent Bellingham Herald article points out that such use is disrespectful and not allowed.
It interfered with my particular use of the area for dog training, because we were deliberately looking for places to work with Isis that had minimal distractions like loose dogs and bicycles.
I confess, I did use the fenced area near the Jewish cemetery as a place to work with Isis on a long lead. Not on top of the gravestones, but on a grassy area next to the graves. Like the article says, it felt like a protected area, and since my trainer had recommended it, I didn’t realize that it was an inappropriate use of the cemetery. I stopped going there once I found out. I didn’t mean to be disrespectful.
Interestingly, this issue was brought up in a book I just finished called Oogy (which was otherwise not at all thought-provoking). The author discusses the controversial use of a cemetery as an off-leash dog park and says it’s actually beneficial to the graves, because the presence of dogs discourages gophers. So, uh, you’re welcome, all those graves that we may have stepped on during Isis’ dog training. May you rest in peace.