The City’s off-leash areas allow dog owners to enjoy quality bonding time with their pets and can provide both with a number of physical and social benefits. However, as the weather begins to warm up in the upcoming months for the long-awaited arrival of spring, it’s important to remember to stay off of the ice in off-leash areas. During seasonal freeze and thaw periods, there can be weak points in the ice covering bodies of water that cannot support the weight of you or a pet and will give way at any moment.
Meet Diana Rhodes and her four-legged friend Elvis, two of Edmonton’s off-leash ambassadors. Elvis is an affectionate, rescue lab cross, who loves to play and socialize at the off-leash parks. Diana and Elvis are frequent visitors of Buena Vista Park and their favorite activity is exploring the many forest trails in the park together. As off-leash ambassadors, Diana and Elvis work to improve the quality of off-leash areas for all users and help to build a stronger sense of community in off-leash parks.
“It was a friend of mine who forwarded the information about the ambassador program to me and I thought, ‘why not?’. I’m regularly at the parks, I’m getting exercise and I’m with my dog, which is awesome” says Diana. “I think it’s nice to have someone as the eyes and ears for the City at the parks to take initiative and ensure that the parks are in good condition for everyone to enjoy.”
“I feel that a lot of people carry the ‘it won’t happy to me’ mentality regarding pet incidents in the park. I’ve been going to Buena Vista Park for over 15 years and it’s important to remember it only takes one brief moment for something to go wrong.” Diana tells us. “I always try to tell dog owners that if their dog doesn’t have a great re-call, it might be better if they spend more time in the field space and away from the river. It’s just not worth it.”
Remember to keep a look out for the following park features when you hit the outdoors with your pooch:
Storm Water Ponds & Lakes
There are often weak spots on the ice covering storm water ponds and lakes that are caused by moving water and changing temperatures below the surface due to vegetation or drainage infrastructure in the pond. Stepping on to the ice covering a stormwater lake or pond is unpredictable and can lead to a dangerous outcome.
Areas in the City with water access:
Parks with Ponds and Creeks
- Patricia Ravine
- Jackie Parker Park
- Hermitage Park
- Terwillegar Park
- Mill Creek Ravine North and South
North Saskatchewan River
The North Saskatchewan River is a powerful, fast moving river and it is never safe to walk on the ice, no matter the season.
River Access Parks:
- Buena Vista Park
- Capilano Park
- Dawson Park
- Gold Bar Park
- Hermitage Park
- Terwillegar Park
This leads us to the question: “How can I ensure the safety of my pup at the off-leash park?” It’s simple. Here are a few tips and tricks to get everyone home from your outdoor adventures safe and sound:
- Use voice commands to call your dog back when they are approaching a frozen body of water
- Keep your dog close and in sight at all times
- If your dog does not obey voice commands, keep them on a leash around water and/or ice
- Avoid parks with water features during fall and spring freeze-thaw
Diana keeps Elvis safe and off of the ice by avoiding frozen bodies of water altogether during seasonal freeze and thaw periods. “I stick with the trails that are far away from the river in Buena Vista Park and I always try to keep him close.” says Diana.
Now that you know how to make the most out of the time spent with your pup in the parks, take your pet out to one of Edmonton’s off-leash areas to enjoy the City’s open spaces! If you happen to visit Buena Vista Park, be sure to stop and say hi to your local off-leash ambassadors Diana and Elvis.
For more information on pet ice safety, visit edmonton.ca/gooddog