Editorial

Editorial | Let Surfside’s Pups Play

April 24, 2013 

It was sorely tempting to label efforts to curb barking at the dog park in Surfside Beach ridiculous grumpiness and be done with it.

End barking at the dog park? Might as well try to end playing at the playground.

In fact, we went so far as to pen a quick Dr. Seuss knock-off about the Grouch who fought dog barks (see below):

But then we thought about it a bit more. Yes, it’s still absurd to think that it’s possible to keep dogs at play from barking. And it’s particularly galling for the fight to be led by new Town Councilman Randle Stevens, who just happens to live right next door to the dog park and has opposed it since it was first proposed. The park could bring down his property value, Stevens complained to The Sun News when it was being discussed back in 2009. And his opposition hasn’t wavered since. It’s always dangerous territory for a politician to propose changes that would benefit him personally.

But on the other hand, opponents do have some valid concerns about the park, namely the discourteous spread of pet waste. Barking aside, nobody wants their front yard used as a bathroom. So it wouldn’t be out of line to remind dog owners of their neighborly duty to pick up after their pets. Signs to that effect are already up, but perhaps this little brouhaha will help make it clear to scofflaws that compliance isn’t voluntary.

And perhaps the barking does need be toned down a bit. We don’t live right next to the park, so we can’t say for sure how annoying the din can be. It likely does get out of hand at times. If the town’s staff can come up with ways to temper the excessive barking without shuttering the park altogether, maybe all sides can be pleased.

But no barking at all at the dog park? Now that’s just plain grouchy.

The Grouch Who Fought Dog Barks

(with apologies to Theodor Geisel)

Every dog down in Surfside liked barking a lot...

But the Grouch, who lived next to the bark park, did not!

The man hated pup play! To him it was treason!

Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.

It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.

It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.

But I think that the most likely reason of all,

May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

Whatever the reason, his heart or his shoes,

He disliked them all, Saint Bernards to shar-poos.

So he growled, with his pup-hating fingers a-drumming,

“I must find some way to stop canines from coming!”

For tomorrow, he knew, all the dog girls and boys,

Would wake bright and early. They’d rush for their toys!

And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the Noise!

Noise! Noise! Noise!

That’s one thing he hated! The NOISE!

NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!

And the more the Grouch thought of the whole barking din

The more the Grouch thought, “I must stop this whole thing!”

“Why, for years upon years I’ve put up with it now!”

“I MUST stop these puppies from coming! But HOW?”

Then he got an idea! An awful idea!

The Grouch got a wonderful, awful idea!

“I’m in charge now,” the Grouch thought to himself.

“I can pass laws that help me and myself!”

“I know just what to do!” The Grouch laughed in his throat.

Then he pulled out his pen and wrote a quick note.

And he crafted a sign for the beasties’ front gate:

“No dog barking and loud noise” he jotted, elate.

“PoohPooh to the pooches!” he was grouchishly humming.

“They’re finding out now that no barking is coming!”

“They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!”

“Their mouths will hang open a minute or two,

Then the dogs down in Surfside will all whimper BooHoo!”

“That’s a noise,” grinned the Grouch, “That I simply MUST hear!”

So he paused. And the Grouch put his hand to his ear.

And he did hear a sound rising over the beach.

It started in low. Then it started to reach.

But the sound wasn’t sad! Why, this sound sounded merry!

It couldn’t be so! But it WAS merry! VERY!

He stared down at Surfside! The Grouch popped his eyes!

Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!

Every dog down in Surfside, the tall and the small,

Was barking and playing! With no park at all!

He HADN’T kept dogs from their fun! Why, IT CAME!

Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grouch thought of something he hadn’t before!

“Maybe instead of less joy,” he thought, “we need more.”

“Maybe barking … perhaps … means a little bit more!”

And what happened then? Well, in Surfside they say,

That the Grouch’s small heart grew three sizes that day!

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