Last September I visited Nelson and the graves of my relatives in the Nelson Memorial Cemetery. It was a peaceful, well-kept and respectful place to reflect on the lives of my loved ones and the history of those I didn’t know.
Unleashed dogs and cemeteries are not a good mix. Simply, dogs can’t differentiate between a loved one’s grave and a tree root. That is why there is a sign at the gate of the cemetery stating that dogs must be on a leash.
However, I was very disturbed to see a large dog romping freely across and around the graves, markers and flowers, its owner walking behind it, not on the pathway but across the graves, with a second large dog on a leash. When I stopped to say that what his actions were not respectful (how does one communicate effectively with someone so lacking in social intelligence?) he didn’t stop but continued walking and without looking at me responded flippantly, “We don’t mean any disrespect.” He did not retrieve his wandering dog.
Where does one begin to explain to a person for whom the cemetery is merely a dog park, and the concept of sacred ground means nothing? There will always be ignorant, thoughtless people. It is up to others who use the cemetery grounds as a park to stroll through, a place to meditate and find peace in a chaotic world, to help maintain the honour and reverence we offer our dead and living.