BY PAULA MINAERT — I’ve always thought that Hyattsville residents are obsessed with three things: dogs, gardens and local politics (though I’ve changed my mind recently about that last one). I’m a dog person, so the great number of canines in our city is a real plus for me. I’ve known quite a few dogs in my 30-plus years in Hyattsville.
There’s Gretchen, a sweet Dachshund who lived on my street. The best story about her is the time she ate a rabbit practically whole and then required surgical intervention. Her successor was Sammi, who amused countless passing drivers (and embarrassed his person) because he twirled in circles for every car.
Squiggy lived a few blocks away and went everywhere with his person. His best story is the time he clawed his way out of a cat door when he had to be left at home one night.
A mastiff lives behind us. He likes to lie on top of the picnic table in his yard and bark at us. We keep telling him we have a right to be in our yard, but I’m not sure he accepts that. Then there’s what my husband and I call the wolf pack: 9:45-three dogs, also on the street behind us. Whenever they hear a siren, they sit in a circle and howl, noses pointed to the sky.
I’ve met dogs on my walks around town, too. A large dog recently came up to his fence. I asked if he was friendly and he wagged his tail and stuck his nose up to the slats. So I let him sniff my hand and then we were friends. Then there’s Lily, a very friendly little dog on Hamilton Street near the community garden. She always comes running when she sees me.
I’m especially attentive to dogs now because we don’t have one anymore; we lost our Sasha (pictured above) late last year. It was hard. I think of getting another one, but I’m not sure I’m ready. And I think of all the work dogs require. I won’t have a dog unless I know I can do right by it.
Some people don’t take care of their dogs. That’s something I just don’t understand. I think there’s a special place in hell for people who neglect or mistreat dogs.
I was talking about this recently with another dog person: Paula Perry, councilmember for Ward 4. She says she gets lots of calls from her residents about people who keep their dogs in a pen 24/7. But according to the ASPCA, as long as the dog has a shelter to go into, and food and water, there isn’t anything to be done about it.
“I dislike that,” she said. “If you’re going to have a pet, you should at least take care of it, pay attention to it, even if you don’t want it in the house.”
She also gets complaints about dogs running loose and people not cleaning up after their dogs ─ both of which are forbidden by the city charter.
“Dog feces attracts rats. So if your neighbor doesn’t clean up after their pet, you may get rats, even if you don’t have a dog.”
So there’s a lot to consider when it comes to having a dog. Of course, I think it’s worth it. I guess the time just isn’t right yet.