Beware park benches!

We had a disturbing incident today at the dog park.  Tierce loves jumping up on the benches and until an hour ago, I didn’t have a problem with this.

Unfortunately, this time, he jumped up and got his leg stuck between the slats.  This picture isn’t a great example because this bench has slats close together, but some of the benches have slats further apart.

I was watching Tierce play halfway across the field, but didn’t see when he leaped up onto the bench.  I and everyone else heard him, though, when he jumped down and  his right hind leg fell through the slats.

For a horrible moment, I was running towards him, screaming, “TIERCE!  TIERCE!  TIERCE!  TIERCE!”  Like all Shibas can, when the need arises, he screamed like a piercing train whistle and about five people ran to save him.

I must say now that I’m very proud of my little boy, because despite having his leg wrenched, he did not bite or try to bite anyone who picked him up or held him or fed him treats (as one gentlemen did – Tierce gobbled down the treat and went back to screaming).  He was a very good boy.

I called Mischa to drive us home, because I didn’t want to carry Tierce all the way there, nor did I want to make him walk/hop home.  Once he got home, he was able to weight bear, so we’re not rushing him to the vet right away, but he’s not going running or for long walks for a few weeks.  He’s sleeping on the couch right now, a very demoralized Shiba.

I’d like to approach the City about having the benches covered at my own expense, but I’m not sure if this will be allowed.  Perhaps a letter?  I’m not sure; I’ll have to look into it some more.  Tierce shouldn’t necessarily have been on the benches, but he’s not the only dog that jumps up there and perhaps this will keep things a little safer.


  1. Are children allowed in the park? What if a child had gotten his/her leg jammed in between the slats? Something to consider.

    If the dog park has a website/blog, ask the other dog owners for their support to get the slats reworked. Cite a safety issue for dogs and their owners.

  2. the same thing happened to niko last summer… while he didn’t break anything, he scuffed his paw up badly where a chunk of skin was taken off… and he screamed bloody murder for quite a while!

  3. The dog run I went to daily in my old neighborhood had benches like that and one little dog broke his leg. We replaced the benches with some nice hardwood benches with much closer slats and didn’t have any more injuries after that.

    Another thing to beware of regarding benches in dog parks is how close they are to the fence! I bet Tierce could easily go over the fence in your photo from that bench. We had a park in Manhattan where that used to be a real problem until they replaced the fence with a much higher one.

    • Hi, Jenna,

      You’re quite right about the closeness of the dog park benches to the fence and I watch Tierce carefully. I’ve sent a message to the Parks & Rec director for Nanaimo and hopefully I’ll hear something back from him soon.

      Dear Mr. Harding,

      My name is Julie MacTire and I got your email address from the City of Nanaimo website. I am writing to you about an incident that happened last Sunday (January 31) at the Nanaimo dog park. My small dog jumped up on one of the park benches that happened to have widely spaced planks and his right hind leg slipped through when he tried to jump down and got caught. This has caused a severe muscle strain, perhaps some tearing in the affected leg that is taking him some time to get over.

      As a result, I’ve become concerned about those benches that have widely spaced planks. While we discourage our dogs from jumping up on these seats, it happens sometimes before the owner can warn the dog away. Also, there are a number of parents with small children who keep their children on the seats to avoid an accidental collision with rambunctious dogs and I fear they could be at risk of an accident as well.

      I am wondering if you can give me any information as to what I should do to put forth a petition to the City to have the benches replaced or covered by material that prevents small legs from getting stuck. I would also be interested in taking an active role in fundraising for the modification to the dog park benches if that is a feasible option.


      Julie MacTire

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