Route 225 East of the Nashua River
Hundreds of dogs visit Groton Place each week to enjoy leash-free romps and dips in the water. Once part of the Dumaine family estate, this 52-acrea sanctuary encompasses two ponds, fields, and woodlands with 1,600 feet of frontage on the Nashua River. Rhododendrons line its wide paths, and specimen trees and flowering shrubs edge the expansive fields. We paused to watch a crane preen itself in one of the marshy areas before I headed over to inspect a monument to The Groton Hunt (the Dumaine family were noted equestrians). As stewards of the land, the private New England Forestry Foundation provides a baggy station for dog owners right at the entrance.
Unfortunately, too many people frequenting this little gem of a preserve appear to suffer from the belief that just because one can do something (let one’s dog run off leash), one should do so. Consider Brontë. My sister loves to run free, but she is not allowed off leash in such open public spaces because she is a big, bouncy, loving one-year-old lab still learning how to control her own energy and behave like a lady.
The first dog we encountered trotted up to Brontë as if to play – and then proceeded to lift his leg on her. The owner did nothing, only running up to drag his animal away by the collar when he began jostling me as I posed for a photograph. Five minutes later, two young golden retrievers came around a corner, spotted us, and bolted over at top speed (their owner yelling after them frantically once she came around the corner and saw what was happening). The dogs immediately got tangled up in Bronte’s leash and knocked The Boy over. It took the woman several minutes to gain physical control of them. Responsible dog owners know you never let your dogs off leash if you cannot control them with voice commands! (Fenced-in dog parks being something of an exception.)
I must add that we did meet two other perfectly behaved sets of dogs accompanying friendly owners! Yet those breaching the basic rules of dog-owner etiquette must be a common sight at Groton Place – given the flier and sign at the entrance that entreat owners to keep their dogs on leashes “until business is complete” and to pick up after them. Apparently, so much dog waste near the river bank has been contaminating the water that they have had to consider closing the area to dogs completely.
When the Trustees of the Groton Place voted to give this land to the New England Forestry Foundation in 1975, they intended the property to be managed both as a wildlife habitat and for public enjoyment. What a shame it would be were thoughtless dog owners to ruin this lovely spot for all of us. (May 2009)