Take Your Dog on a Scenic Walk around Boston Harbor with a Park Ranger

It's part of the B.A.R.K. Ranger Program from the National Parks Service.


bark ranger program badges

Photo provided by Boston Harbor Now

You and your fuzzy best friend are invited on a walk with a park ranger to learn more about dog etiquette at public parks this weekend. It’s all part of an initiative started by the National Parks Service called the B.A.R.K. Ranger Program.

The acronym doesn’t just rhyme with park, though—it stands for “bag your poop, always wear a leash, respect wildlife, know your surroundings.” The program is designed to help dog owners enjoy parks more comfortably and safely.

Christian Merfeld, director of communications at Boston Harbor Now, which is collaborating with the NPS to put on the event, says the purpose of the initiative is to connect the dog walking community to the many parks throughout the city.

“We also want them to be educated on how to better share space with other people who may not be dog owners or who might be using the park for other reasons,” Merfeld said.

The ranger-led walks start October 14 and occur every Saturday morning after that during the month of October. They’ll begin at the Edward McCormack Bath House in South Boston and end in Dorchester Heights.

Dog owners can enjoy a scenic, half-mile walk while learning more about the history of the area from a park ranger.

“We really wanted to provide history and background of the important spaces they’re walking in,” says Rebecca Smerling, organizer of the event.

The park ranger, of course, will also give advice on how to best handle dogs in public spaces and discuss why rules like keeping your dog on a leash are important.

“It’s not just about protecting your dogs, but also protecting resources or nesting birds,” Smerling says.

This is Boston’s first time participating in the national program, which has already made waves across the country.

“Boston has a rich history, so it’s getting people to care and connecting people to care about the history of the spaces we live in,” she says.

On the last Saturday of the month, Oct. 27, the walk will feature a dog costume parade and challenge, where owners can dress their dogs up in the spookiest—or cutest—of outfits.

The group walks are also a way to encourage dog owners to enjoy walking their dogs in the offseason and to celebrate fall by appreciating the cooler temperatures and colorful landscapes.

After completing the walk, participating dogs will receive an official NPS “bark ranger” metal badge that can be attached to their collars. Families can enjoy coffee and cookies from Top Shelf Cookies, and dogs can enjoy a treat from 2 Dog Treats at the end of the walk.

“We know how much Boston loves their dogs,” Merfeld says. “This is a great way to connect people, dogs, and parks together.”

All of the walks are free and open to the public. They will begin at 9:30 a.m. each Saturday. For more info, visit facebook.com.