Updated: French Bulldog Who Is Unofficial Mayor of Chevy Chase Dog Park Featured in Message of Support
The canine dignitary was used to urge supporters to attend hearing on contentious recreation area
Louie, a black French bulldog, is the unofficial mayor of the Chevy Chase Dog Park.
Photos courtesy of Patty Martin
As the unofficial mayor of the Chevy Chase dog park, Louie Martin takes his duties seriously.
Seriously enough to issue an official press “releash.”
The diminutive French bulldog with a dashing black coat pawtitioned the community for support on Sunday, the day before a public hearing on the roughly year-old doggie exercise area.
Chevy Chase Village found itself in the national doghouse, metaphorically speaking, when a Washington Post article exposed a contentious divide between lovers of the park — furry visitors and their human companions — and nearby neighbors who just wanted some doggone quiet.
Business Insider and the New York Post picked up the story. So did The Cut, a division of New York magazine. NPR’s Scott Simon took a swipe at the opposition in a column on August 31, decrying the “Beltway insiders” who can’t recognize the absurdity of “No Excessive Barking” signs at a neighborhood dog park.
Locally, things grew tense, said Julia Small, a member of the Save the Chevy Chase Dog Park advocacy group. The village chief of police visited the park recently, “just to say he wanted to chat about the park and make sure we understood how serious things were,” she added, after a nearby neighbor called in with another complaint.
Small sent the tongue-in-cheek statement on Louie’s behalf and said it was a joint effort by the dog park group.
Inside the fenced-in park, the dogs have played happily.
Louie is a wrestler. Small’s dog, Finn, a 16-month-old mini Goldendoodle, is fond of chasing his friends around the perimeter.
A majority of the Chevy Chase Village Board of Managers voted on Monday night to shut down the dog park.
Previously, the hours were cut from 7 a.m. to sunset on weekdays — and 8 a.m. to sunset on weekends — to opening at 8 or 9 a.m. on weekdays and weekends, respectively.
Louie did not technically author the press “releash,” Small admitted (yes, that’s really what it’s titled), but he’s long served as a public ambassador to the park. Few could better represent the pooches of Chevy Chase.
“He greets everyone, all the other dogs like him, and he’s just a friendly face around there,” she said. His unofficial title was bestowed by Doug Gansler, the former attorney general for Maryland, giving it a certain aura of authenticity.
“I think the park will fall into disuse,” Small said before the vote about the possibility of closure. “The whole point was to create a place where dogs could run off-leash. Not many other people use it.”
As for Finn, who visits the park every morning and most afternoons?
“I think I’ll definitely have to look into our options,” Small continued. “That was definitely the closest and the most convenient place for us to go.”