Sledding at Hillside Dog Park Gives Us Perfect Opportunity to Write a Kids Vs. Dogs Story

Sure January and February may have been slow news months and the only headlines we had going for us were weather related.  Nope, Jan/Feb didn’t yield a new Slappaccino Dad story or a rhubarb over parking.  Ah, but wonderful March has already  bestowed this wonderful sure-to-be-discussed-forever tidbit from the New York Times (an electronic newspaper now run by college interns) via Pardon Me For Asking upon us:

NYT Cityroom: This delicate dance can be a joy to watch, but it becomes infinitely more complicated when a wild card — in the form of a frisky-in-the-snow dog — is thrown into the mix. Such was the case at the Hillside Dog Park in Brooklyn Heights on Friday, according to one reader of Pardon Me For Asking, as sledders took to the slope inside of the run. The reader, and puppy owner,took umbrage at being chastised by parents for the puppy’s behavior:

… We brought our 5-month-old puppy to Hillside Dog Run in Brooklyn Heights, which was covered in snow. As usual dozens of parents show up with dozens of kids to sled down the hill inside the dog run. My very well behaved, if not excitable, puppy, got enthused by the action and at one point, playfully nipped at a kids arm. To which the obnoxious parent tells me that my dog should be trained to not bite children!!! And of course, explaining to this person that his child is SLEDDING IN A DOG RUN, so he should maybe expect that to happen some times, because dogs are trained while on leads, NOT WHILE RUNNING OFF-LEASH IN A DOG RUN WHERE YOU’RE LITTLE BRAT SHOULDN’T BE SLEDDING IN THE FIRST PLACE.

This advice was seconded by a Yelp reviewer of the dog park, Robin G., who gave the park five out of five stars (!) but also cautioned, “I would be slightly careful with a kid in the dog park, since there are wild rumpus moments where a kid could get knocked over by some enthusiastic mutt.”

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  • ABC

    Hillside is “reserved for sledding when it snows”. Always has been. It’s posted at the park.

    I have kids and dogs, and I think that parent was rude, but the commenter is rude too. The “little brat” has the space on snow days. There are a handful of such days. No need to panic.

    I love Hillside. It’s a nice community of dog owners. I trust this owner will get up to speed soon.

  • rooco

    Jesus, sledding in the dog park? Do the parents know how disgusting that place is?

  • No One of Consequence

    @rooco, I’ve made similar observations here, too.
    I am sometimes surprised that I wasn’t branded as the Anti-Child (I’m actually the Anti-Chihuahua).

  • Mike

    The same folks that what to picnic on the soccer field ?

  • rooco

    I just mean, it’s like a giant dog sewer. Sledding there? WTF?

  • ABC

    It’s covered in fresh snow.

    And it’s not a soccer field! Argh! LOL!

  • No One of Consequence

    With dogs running freely about where they habitually doodie etc.

    Do what you want, they’re your kids. Me and rooco will just keep our distance.

    At least we can agree that it’s not (solely) a soccer field.

  • my2cents

    This reminds me of the bike lane discussion in that it involves someone jealously guarding their personal corner of public space that was guaranteed them from encroachment by others using that space on an occasional basis. If people just used common sense and made exceptions as needed things could be easier for everyone. Maybe it might be good to keep your dog on a leash on the 2 days a year that the park is filled with small kids.

  • WillowtownCop

    If you don’t like dogs, stay out of the dog run! Can you imagine the uproar if dog owners who were unaccompanied by children decided to let their dogs run free in playgrounds and use the sandbox as a toilet?

  • CharlieSahadi

    We took our dog, and our sled, to Hillside on Saturday. Other than an occasional dog running in the middle of the hill, or a friendly English Bulldog waiting on you at the bottom of the hill with some friendly licks – there seemed to be no problems.

    Our pup loved the extra kids- and chasing sleds.

    Glad that we missed the drama…

  • Kim G.

    Be it yellow, brown or snow white it’s a dedicated dog park. I respect the responsible dog owners who use the park. If parents choose to take their children sledding in a “dog space” then it’s up to the parents to assume responsibility for their Little Ones and not lash out on the dog owners. Share the space…take the risk. I’m not comfortable letting my kids run with unleashed dogs so we didn’t sled there. On the other hand if I had a dog and saw the “dog park” filled with children I wouldn’t go in.

  • Joe

    We’ve used the hill for many years but this year was the first year we had dogs chase or lick the kids. I myself was not upset with this since it is after all a dog run but since my child was getting a little unnerved by the attention we left early. Its a shared space on snow days so you just have to be practical about these things.

  • Matthew Parker

    Every year we run into the same misunderstanding when it snows at Hillside. Bottom line is that sledders have priority on the hill. The sign posted by the NYC Parks Department clearly indicates this.

    Normally, it’s a Norman Rockwell scene of happy kids and parents and the occasional punky teens with their liquid and herbal substances.

    Contributing to the Norman Rockwell scene down at the bottom of the hill on the flat area where the sledders don’t go, the vast majority of dog owners closely mind their dogs and still enjoy some off-leash recreation. The snow is also a great time to take ones dog to the dog run to romp around.

    Usually, peace, love and harmony reigns in this Winter Wonderland of interest group understanding and courtesy.

    Occasionally, as apparently happened with this excited puppy, a dog will bark or chase after a sled. It’s up to the owners to control their dog when it snows and there are sledders at Hillside. They can do this in several ways:
    1) Train the dog to come when called,
    2) Closely supervise their dog so that the dog doesn’t run over to the sledders,
    3) If there are no small dogs using the special fenced in small dog area, take ones dog to that enclosed area,
    4) Come back to the dog run another time when there are no sledders.

    For generations before Hillside became an official NYC dog run, local families have been using the hill at the former Squibb Park for sledding. It’s a beloved tradition.

    Local area dog owners are fortunate to have the largest dog run in NYC right here in Brooklyn Heights and have exclusive use of that area for at least 350+ days a year.

    When Hillside became a dog run about a dozen years ago, the compromise (clearly indicated on the sign at the top of the hill) is that when it snows, the hill area is reserved for sledders.

    This arrangement works 99.5% of the time. However, every year, there’s usually one or two misunderstandings between sledders (usually an alarmed parent), and a dog owner who can’t or won’t control their dog.

    To be clear: When it snows, sledders have priority on the hill at the dog run. If you can’t control your dog to avoid barking or running after the sledders on the hilly part of the dog park, choose one of the four options listed above. It’s the dog owners’ responsibility.

    Sledders and parents: It’s your responsibility to clean up after yourselves. We’ve found a lot of litter, empty beer bottles, and we’ve had our garbage cans flattened and ruined by turning them into makeshift toboggans. Also, please close the double doors at the top of the hill after you enter the park. Those doors are to prevent dogs from running out of the run into the street.

    I hope both constituency groups, having knowledge of the posted rules, and common sense knowledge of rights and responsibilities, can continue to use Hillside together. It’s terrific when everyone follows the rules.

    I was there almost every day it snowed last , and Hillside was an idyllic and well attended scene of happy people, kids, and dogs all enjoying themselves. It’s a wonderful neighborhood resource and is part of what makes this area special.

    Matthew Parker
    Pres., Friends of Hillside Dog Park, Inc.

  • travy

    grow up kid, it was a puppy.

  • ABC

    thanks Matthew. for the life of me, I don’t people like the above or the orignal complaint about the “brat” or half the posts on this blog. it doesn’t ALWAYS have to be us vs them in every damn scenario

  • AAR

    Matthew – Thanks for your thoughtful and balanced comment. For both sides it is a sensitive issue, not helped by many of the snide and sarcastic comments above. Too bad that so many people who comment here can’t treat legitimate community issues seriously and respectfully.

  • Bartmann

    I have a two dogs and two children. And I use Hillside as a Dog Park. That’s where my dogs go to run around, defecate and urinate.

    I don’t take my kids there because it’s slightly disgusting to have them rolling around on the ground, even with the snow. The park is in fact a giant litter box. Maybe some parents don’t mind having their kids gulping fudge, but I’m not that open-minded.


  • The Where

    Sounds to me like the hounds are going to have to find a new place to frolic. I hear they are quite delish with some relish and fava beans.

  • nabeguy

    Nice post, Matthew, You hit a lot of nails squarely on the head.

  • Kim G.

    I hope I didn’t come across as rude or sarcastic…I respect both sides who want to use the park.

  • Randall

    have you checked out our neighborhood sidewalks? (“That’s where my dogs go to run around, defecate and urinate.”) I’d say about 1% of owners actually bother to curb the dogs, instead of just letting them do their business on the sidewalk (even if they do pick it up). if you let the rugrats walk on the sidewalk and then traipse into the home, I don’t see how it’s any different.

  • No One of Consequence

    It’s easy, take off their shoes when they come home. Doesn’t excuse the owners, but it’s a viable solution.

    AAR, I don’t really see any overly snide or sarcastic remarks (in this thread, at least). Ok , maybe from The Where, but his comment came after your post.

    I’d be happy if the dog runs were the ONLY places dogs were allowed to go and kids were never allowed to sled in there.
    But none of that will ever happen.

  • my2cents

    Matthew Parker’s post should put this discussion to rest. He makes the whole thing crystal clear.

  • anon

    “If you can’t control your dog to avoid barking or running after the sledders on the hilly part of the dog park, choose one of the four options listed above. It’s the dog owners’ responsibility.”

    Dog owner pwned.

  • Jose Uribe

    I say put the kids on a leash. Or maybe just up the meds of the parent who overreactedt to a ferocious puppy.

  • Joe

    Thanks Matthew for your enlightening and clear post.

    Last year I remembered all the dogs being in the special fenced in small dog area while the kids were sledding but I wasn’t sure if this was just a special case of overly considerate dog owners or whether it was a policy.

  • Dog Parent Granny Hater

    Now that the dogs and kids are sorted, can we please find a way to end the scourge of senior citizens hanging around and being all ookie-old at Teresa’s. If I wanted to watch someone complain and eat prunes, I’d visit my parents.

  • nabeguy

    DogParentGrannyHater, you left someone off the list…yourself. Perhaps you should go home and take it up with your parents.

  • nabeguy

    Jose, you’re not roommates with The Where by any chance?

  • Dog Parent Granny Hater

    @ nabeguy: Dad??? is that you?