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Garth Hilderman (left) takes a stroll with fellow dog walker Ed Loewen in one of Hilderman's favourite places in Winnipeg - Little Mountain Park., where puppy love takes over in winter.

Winnipeg Free Press On 7 Sunday, February 27, 2011 pg. 14 .

http://winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/theyre-doggone-considerate-117004603.html

by Garth Hilderman

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They're Doggone considerate

Dog owners make Little Mountain Park a real treat.

"Every winter, Little Mountain Park gets taken over by dogs and their owners. The park's trails are a great place for dog walking, being both scenic and out of the wind. I like taking my dog there because it's a chance for him to run and roughhouse with members of his own species.

But as nice as the park is and for as much fun and exercise as my dog gets while there. it's the other owners who really make it a remarkable place. It is their generosity and sense of community that cause Little Mountain to rank among my favourite places in Winnipeg.

I've met several dog owners who always bring birdseed with them on their walks, just to top up the bird feeders that can be found alongside many of Little Mountain's trails. One lady I've met hangs bagels on tree branches just to give the birds an extra treat. I've seen someone else bring peanuts, so the squirrels have something, too.

Scattered through the park are wooden boxes that house plastic bags for those owners who find themselves in need of one to pick up after their dog. I have no idea who originally was responsible for placing these boxes, or even if they are fulfilling their original purpose, but I do know dog walkers have appointed themselves responsible for keeping them stocked.

During the winter, it's the dog walkers who deal with plastic bags that have fulfilled their purpose. The city doesn't appear to send anyone around to gather the trash from throughout Little Mountain once there is snow on the ground. Trash cans would quickly overflow with empty coffee cups and not-nearly-as-empty plastic bags if not for an exceptional few people who have taken it upon themselves to perform this task.

Despite these best efforts, some stuff gets missed in the snow. Come the spring thaw, there is a need to do a bit of extra cleaning, so some of the regulars put aside a couple of hours on a weekend to tidy things up. Armed with shovels and gloves, they set about cleaning the park, making it ready for summer crowds to enjoy roasting wieners and toasting marshmallows.

Nobody told any of them to do these things, they just do them. They do them not for personal gain, but for the betterment of everyone who uses the park. And I think that's pretty special."