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Memories Once a month or so, Tessi and I head to London to visit friends. Driving through the city stirs up many memories from my 16 years living there. I share some of those memories with Tessi as we pass through familiar neighbourhoods. She only knows London as a busy place with many dog-loving people, including her buddy Helen. I never owned a pet during my years there; however, many of the city's citizens did and still do. Tessi doesn't know I used to see numerous people walking their furry companions as I rode my bike on the multi-use pathways running throughout the city, joining its many recreational and nature parks, and its few dog parks. She only knows there are several places where she can run free. I tell her the one in the east end of London, at Pottersburg Park, was once unfenced. Usually, the animals were too busy playing with one another to bother any people passing by; yet, there was one instance, while I was struggling on roller blades, I almost ran into a dog that suddenly appeared in front of me from the trees bordering that stretch. Off-leash Parks The five ha (14 ac) section is now enclosed and is one of three generous sized fenced-in off-leash settings. Each one features an open field and a wooded spot with worn footpaths meandering throughout. Stoney Creek Park, in the north end, has the added bonus or annoyance (depending on your pet and the time of year) of a creek flowing through it. Each park has a double-gated entrance and includes a small dog area. Artistic bone-shaped benches were added last year. Tessi and I often stop at one of the parks when we're in the city. She spends a little time greeting other visitors before moving off to explore the grass and bushes. Greenway Park, in London's west end, has the newest off-leash area. The nearby multi-use path leads to the bigger Springbank Park, where I've taken Tessi for leashed walks along the Thames River. Many ducks and geese make the river their home. At times, the water's edge gets crowded as an audience of adults watch their children and grandchildren joyfully feed bread scraps to the waterfowl. Associations and Societies London is very much a dog-friendly city. The London Dog Association organizes all things canine to help dog lovers and non-dog people live in peaceful co-existence. Rules are established at the off-leash parks so the animals, with their distinctive personalities, get along as amicably as possible; and also to help owners avoid triggering undesirable situations. The association holds an annual fundraiser pooch plunge. This year it will be on September 6 (2009) at the Stronach Pool. The London Humane Society also holds a couple of annual fundraisers. Bark in the Park, which runs on June 7, 2009, features a walk-a-thon, events and booths selling canine items or sharing canine information. I participated a few years ago by selling pet pictures I had taken at the event. Retail Establishments I've been able to take Tessi into two former places of employment. Most of the staff at Forest City Image Centre (FCIC) love animals. Joe, the manager, encourages customers to bring their dogs in. I remember while working at Novacks (an outdoor/travel store), I once watched a dog being fitted for a doggy backpack (which they still sell). That led me to eventually ask the manager, Terry, if I could bring Tessi in. He gave me an enthusiastic okay. Officially, Terry states, "Dogs are more than welcome, as long as they are well behaved." (I would emphasize that for any place of business.) These stores are both downtown. If I happen to be there in the summer, I can get a bite to eat at the Covent Garden Market. Though our four-legged friends aren't allowed inside the building, vendors are situated around the outdoor eating area in the nice weather. The nearby McDonalds has the convenience of a walk-up window so you don't have to enter the restaurant. Whether shopping inside, appreciating nature at one of the off-leash parks or a leashed stroll along one of the paths, I can keep Tessi busy with many sights and sounds (and smells). I can enjoy my former place of residence in a way I never could while living there. For More Info Date:  Sunday Sept. 6th, 2009 Location:  Stronach Pool Plunge Times: 1st Session: 1:00 - 1:50 p.m. 2nd Session: 2:10 - 3:00 p.m. 3rd Session: 3:20 - 4:10 p.m. Don't forget to register at All proceeds from this years plunge will go to the St. John's Therapy dogs.
  • London Humane Society Fundraisers:
Bark in the Park 25th Annual Dog (and People) Walk-a-thon Sunday, June 7, 2009 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Greenway Park, London, ON Pledge forms available soon at the London Humane Society or call 519-451-0630 ext. 222 for further details
  • Christmas Pet Gifts campaign
November & December 2009 Various citywide venues Put a special gift under the tree this year for your pet and help all the animals at the London Humane Society at the same time. Full details available on their website or by calling 519-451-0630 ext. 222 in October.

 (c) Cheryl Smyth, 2009

January 2013 - Novacks has closed it retail store. Tessi and I will miss our visits there.

March 2013 - Parvo concerns at the dog parks.

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