On a snowy evening in the temperamental Icelandic spring, a 10-month old puppy watched the people in her life, the people she knows as mommy and daddy, drive off to the supermarket in the red carriage she too occasionally has to ride.
Before her is the front door and the comfortable cool breeze blowing in through the half-open portal to freedom. Beyond the door is the great outdoors, and with it comes the freedom to run to the garden she calls her own and even better, to the grandioso dog park a few blocks away.
She, the beautiful gracious Emma, tempted or not, goes back to her blanket and continues to nap away after a relatively eventful day.
Emma is my dog. She is a spirited yellow Labrador retriever with a heart the size of this world. She still needs to learn to lie down on demand or wait when she is told to do so. She sits on the kitchen table chairs while we eat and watches us with eyes full of longing disregarding her own food even though it’s been given an extra flavoring with her favorite treat, the dry fish her grandfather brings her just about every times she runs out.
Emma in the kitchen, happy to have us back. Upon returning home from the nearby supermarket, my husband Andrew and I both missed a beat as we realized the front door was wide open.
We didn’t care about the electronic equipment, the books and the espresso maker. All we cared about was our Emma. And just imagine the sincere joy I felt when I saw her come from her usual spot calm as the angel she is.
Even while we cooked dinner, both of us still exploding from pride and our hearts warmed by her sweet loyal nature, she looked upon us with her big brown eyes.
I am a dog owner in a city whose authorities sometimes come across as being hostile to dogs by policy. As a ‘mother’ to a teen puppy in the blossoming puberty stages of her development, I am constantly on alert because I know her curious sniffing nose is not always appreciated up-close.
I am careful to clean up after her and make sure she does not greet anyone unless approached or if we meet another dog accompanied by his or her owner. A dog owner in Reykjavík is never entirely confident just how welcoming the near-community is to one’s little bundle of joy.
My bundle of joy is not used to being around children but nonetheless she understands how fragile they are and is never more cautious but when she meets a child.
In my community there is an unofficiated dog park that has been on a “we mean to officiate it” list for quite some time.
In the last fortnight, before yesterday’s snowfall took us by surprise, we have shared the dog park with children playing curiously around the dogs and getting to know the four-legged darlings who for the last few years have been playing together almost every day of their routine life in the Westside (Vesturbær).
Emma and Polly playing together. But these poor creatures of ours are yet again at risk of losing their playground—the playground to which the naughtiest of dogs are sure to be found should they make an escape when an opportunity such as the one described above arrives out of nowhere.
The latest rumor is that the local Vesturbær swimming pool is going to be expanded greatly and the area turned into a recreational area for people. Not dogs. The new “keep your dog on a leash” signs are a reason enough to worry.
The new sign by the entrance. Recreational areas are great. And we have a few already. More importantly, there is plenty of space for everyone. There is no need to throw us to the streets without a place for our dogs to run loose and play.
It seems to be a common misunderstanding in this city that a loose dog is a bad dog. That a friendly fight between two dogs rolling in the grass, and a curious dog sniffing in the direction of a stranger is a dangerous dog is a little absurd.
Most of the dogs that go there don’t make a habit out of running away and they don’t run away from us despite the open exit on both sides.
What we need is a bin or two, maybe a reasonably sized fenced area in the very corner, and perhaps a place to sit. The fees we pay annually should suffice to put up a fence, a few bins and a place to sit and chat.
My Emma proved to me last week what is loyalty stands for. My heart is ripe to explode from all the love I have for her. She is my bundle of joy and the best moment of the day for me, is when she goes to the dog park and sees all her friends playing in the distant corner.
We can all share the vast space of what we now call the dog park. We really don’t need the whole area to ourselves, just a decent enough space for our dogs to run loose and feel the wind in their ears.
It’s also a great opportunity for all the kids who don’t have a dog but want one oh-so-much to come and play with the dogs and get to know them.
All we ask for is big enough space for even the biggest dogs to run loose and play freely with other dogs. With approximately 3000 meters dedicated to playgrounds alone in the city, I would think a section of the park is not too much to ask.
I truly hope the city officials will come around to officiating a section of the park for us so our dogs can continue to run free but with even better facilities.
Text & Photos: Júlíana Björnsdóttir – [email protected]