Snyder's Sandwich: Sandwich Goes To The Dogs

Mark Snyder and his dog Harry
GENE M. MARCHAND/ENTERPRISE - Mark Snyder and his dog Harry

All of us humans love it in Sandwich. That is why my wife and I relocated here from Stoughton two months ago. Who can argue with the quaint village area, the myriad beaches, the friendly people, the food emporiums, and the shopping? And, once we cross the bridge back onto the Cape, doesn’t your blood pressure go down, and a sense of calm envelop you? It certainly does me!

But what about our extended family—like our dogs? During the summer, you can go from Provincetown to Bourne and you won’t find many beaches that allow dogs. Most have signs barring our furry best friends until the fall.

But, Snyder’s Sandwich, along with Harry the Rescue Dog, found a beach that welcomes dogs and one where they get to socialize and meet new friends, even during summer. It’s a well-kept secret (until now).

First, let me direct your attention to a jewel in Sandwich. The Cape Cod Canal Visitors Center at 60 Ed Moffitt Drive on the Sandwich section of the canal, near the Sandwich Marina, welcomes visitors of all ages. You can (for free) explore the canal’s rich history, fascinating features, and the Army Corps of Engineers’ vigilant operation of the Cape Cod Canal, through various hands-on exhibits, films, and interpretive programs. Explore an actual ship in the interior of the building!

Park rangers patrol the canal land year-round, and offer a variety of free public educational programs from spring to fall. 

Well, Mark, what about the dogs? Glad you asked.

From the time you go in the parking lot, you’ll see that the paths leading to Town Neck Beach have a dispenser of “Mutt Mitts.” These are provided by the Army Corps of Engineers, and distributed by the park rangers who take care of the property. Samantha Gray, a park ranger with 17 years on the canal, tells Snyder’s Sandwich, “We don’t take care of the beach, but the pathway, the bathrooms, and a few feet from the jetty are under our care.” I asked her why this is one of the only beaches on the Cape that invites dogs in season and she told me, “We’re encouraging people to take responsibility. We’ve had the Mutt Mitt dispensers for several years. They are at all access areas on both sides of the canal. All we ask is that owners keep their pets on a leash six feet or shorter, and take the responsibility to clean up for their own dogs.” 

I have noticed that during the off-season, since the bags are not dispensed after the summer season, that owners are not bothering to clean up the messes.  Hence, walking the dog in winter can become a hazard to your shoes.

Why is this beach one of the only ones on the Cape that allows dogs? The NRG power plant owns the beach. Since it’s privately owned, it doesn’t come under town rules. Mark Galkowski, director of natural resources for the Town of Sandwich, adds that “plovers and terns have prevented us from opening up the entire Town Neck to dogs, and the swimming beach is also closed because of it.”

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If you want to stay inside, you can take advantage of the Sandwich Public Library, which welcomes dogs with open arms and a jar of treats. Harry, like many other dogs that come to the library on a regular basis with their human friends, stops at the circulation desk and stands and waits his turn. Some people wonder if he’s taking out a book, but he’s there for one reason—the goody jar!  The friendly librarians and assistants are always happy to give him a cookie.  And, he’s happy to accept!

Library director Joanne Lamont told Snyder’s Sandwich she’s been in the Sandwich Library for three years (after serving in Duxbury). She said, “I know it’s out of the ordinary, but it was part of the culture when I came. A few people have complained about the dogs, but we have never had an incident. We have the best behaved dogs and responsible owners. Dogs must be leashed, of course.”  Most owners walk their dogs before they come into the library. They can do their duty elsewhere and not ruin a good thing.

And speaking of dogs and the library, Jan Weiner of the Companion Animal Program is going to be starting a therapy dog training program at the library. She says she is aiming for a March start, targeting Tuesday afternoons for the six-week course. Cost is $130 and testing of dogs will be in April. Ms. Weiner said they do screen all possible dogs and handlers. Dogs must be at least 1 year old to participate. She stressed, “Comfort dogs are not trained as service dogs. Therapy dogs visit all over the Cape. We get requests for reading programs in libraries, and visits to senior facilities.” Times and dates are still to be determined, but you can visit www.companionanimalprogram.com for details.

There are several drive-throughs in town that offer dogs a treat. Among them Marylou’s coffee shop on Tupper Road and Eastern Bank locations.

Of course, dogs loved to be walked, and Sandwich has so many wonderful trails, complete with breathtaking sights for the humans, and many dogs for our canine friends to play with. Talbot’s Point, on Old County Road, is a spectacular 112-acre tract, which extends into Scorton Marsh. There are several trails there to follow. As always, please bring bags to any of these trails to pick up your dog’s wastes. Some have them, some don’t.

On Service Road, between Exits 3 and 4 off Route 6 (near Sandwich Hollows Golf Club) is Maple Swamp Conservation Area. This is a 500-acre site that is much more than a swamp. According to the Sandwich Department of Natural Resources, this area contains some of the most dramatic topography on Cape Cod, ranging from 40 feet above sea level in the deepest hollow to a high point of 250 feet. If you walk the right trail (there are two main ones), you won’t believe what you’ll find. Stay on the righthand trail and you’ll eventually come to an area of spectacular views, across Cape Cod Bay to Provincetown, and in the other direction to Vineyard Sound! Plenty of free parking there, too.

The Briar Patch, behind the jam-making Green Briar Nature Center off Route 6A, is 166 acres with a couple of well-marked trails. My last visit there didn’t turn out well. It appears there were many inconsiderate dog owners who were too lazy to clean up their mess. My boot paid the price.

Murkwood is also off Route 6A in the East Sandwich area. It has parking and 79 acres to explore. In the words of the natural resources site, “You can observe an unparalleled panorama of salt marsh, bog, and barrier beach, framed by cedar groves, tupelo trees, and pines.” It is not far from the East Sandwich Fire Station. 

Two other locations are on Cotuit Road. Boyden Farm has 48 acres, with 730 feet of frontage on Peters Pond. It is just south of Farmersville Road. The walking trail sometimes dips near the water—so be careful.  The Ryder Reservation features frontage on Wakeby Pond. There are many walking trails there.

Mr. Galkowski says, “The main area for dogs really is the Ryder Conservation land, off Cotuit Road. Ultimately, we expect to build a dog park there. We hope to have separate runs for small and large dogs, and a swim area for pets, as well.”

Mr. Galkowski tells Snyder’s Sandwich, “We supply doggie bags and barrels in more of the heavier-traveled areas. We received a donation from a local veterinarian to provide the bags. In the warmer months, we have seasonal help so we can pick up those areas.  In the winter, there are basically two of us, so it’s a bit more difficult. We’re short-staffed. If we find people not picking up, we’ll cite them. We’ll also cite unlicensed dogs, as well. Licensing is important because it assures that the dog is vaccinated for rabies.”

Speaking of licensing your dogs, town clerk Taylor White invites all dog owners to enter their dogs in the Best Dog in Sandwich Contest and have a chance to win   the 5th Annual Sandwich “Top Dog” Contest. Residents who license their dogs may participate for a chance to have their canine named Sandwich’s “2014 Top Dog.”

The first-place winner will receive 2014 dog license #1 and have their picture in The Sandwich Enterprise. The second- and third-place winners will get licenses #2 and #3, respectively. Participants will need to submit a favorite photo of their loyal companion when they apply for their license. This may be done in person at the clerk’s office, 145 Main Street, or via mail by downloading the form from the clerk’s website. If residents own more than one dog, they may enter each of them. A copy of a valid rabies certificate is also required for each dog entered. For more information on the contest and the registration process, contact the Sandwich Town Clerk’s Office at 508-888-0340, e-mail  twhite@townofsandwich.net, or check the website, www.sandwichmass.org.

Did your dog get filthy on his trail travels? Sandwich also has Happy Tails Dog Wash & Grooming at 267 Cotuit Road. They are open Tuesday through Sunday, and you can walk in and can drop off your pet, or do the self-serve wash and nail clipping.

And, if you have to go away, and can’t take your furry friend, we’re lucky to have Cape Cod Pet Resort nearby in North Falmouth. With their pet cams, you can even watch your loved one on your smart phone, while you’re away! 

As wildlife photographer and writer Roger Caras once said, “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”

Rumblings Around Town

They are not blaming Bush: The next meeting of the Sandwich Republican Town Committee will be on Tuesday, January 28, at 7 PM at the Riverview School, Route 6A in East Sandwich.  They will select the delegates to the GOP March 22 Convention at that time.

DON’T YELL “FIRE,” JUST YELL “HELLO”: A warm welcome to William Carrico, the new fire chief for the Town of Sandwich. He comes from the Halifax Fire Department, where he served as chief. Snyder’s Sandwich wishes him many years of successful and safe service.

Mark Snyder, who has written more than 1,870 articles in newspapers and magazines, and published three books, is the CEO of PMPNetwork.com, the Internet’s entertainment superstation, and snyderssandwich.com, a local community website. Have a story idea? He can be reached by e-mail at snyderssandwich@aol.com, on Facebook (Snyder’s Stoughton), and on Twitter (MediaMan2009). Write him via snail mail at Box 639, East Sandwich, MA 02537.

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