Dogs in the graveyard

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.

Published by Kari Neumeyer

Writer, editor, dog mom, ovarian cancer survivor

2 thoughts on “Dogs in the graveyard

  1. Hilarious. So as “the trainer” mentioned here, when entering Bellingham and taking on clients with aggressive or highly/extreme reactivity the recommendation was (by a client) to look at the cemetary as a place to train, the area by the Jewish graves a less walked/traveled area. I said “really?” and was very apprehensive until I also saw it was a natural dog walking area. Since that time – gosh it seems so long ago already that Isis did a few sessions there – it became or always was (unknowingly) that the Jewish graves/section was off limits to dog activity – even controlled dog activity and so immediately stopped going into that fenced area (which was so nice for everyone…and NEVER did we step on or disrespect graves or stay in there if people were around.

    Now, the cemetary has closed off the previous entries to the off lead walking trails and I’m not sure where they now enter or if they have been closed off completely. Things change, life changes.

    Nice blog. 🙂

  2. Ha! I know! There are a lot of comments on the Herald article from people who think it’s just swell that dogs enjoy the cemetery. I totally agree with those who say, “Hey, if a dog wants to poop on my grave, that’s cool by me.” And actually, I don’t think we were violating any rules, since the dogs were on leash while we were working with them!

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