Fairfield Beach Access is a diverse and growing network of dog guardians, lovers, educators, rescuers...
and supporters. Our common bond has resulted in a unique and vigorous community that, like our dogs, displays character of devotion, spirit, and tenacity.
Our mission statement is displayed on the “Home” page of this site. Our over-arching goal is focused on developing a strong community of responsible dog guardians through an information and opinion-sharing network. We advocate inclusive public policy regarding public access, acceptance, and welfare of dogs and dog guardians in Fairfield County.
To achieve that, our members are committed to combating the negativity, caricaturing and most particularly the false politicking that makes working toward solutions to important issues difficult; and determined to seek new pathways that incorporate and balance the opinions of all.
We are dedicated to building and maintaining communication channels between groups with interests or concerns about the issue of beach access for dogs—called “stakeholders”—so that we can work with the Town of Fairfield government to ensure the long-term stability of winter season access for our ENTIRE families—which includes our devoted dogs.
of our members
... are Fairfield, CT residents:
representing a significant block of taxpaying constituents
These citizens see that many of the Fairfield parks, open spaces, and public venues have areas dedicated for soccer or field hockey, baseball fields, jogging, skateboarding, juvenile playgrounds and other recreational uses: some constructed within exceptionally valuable properties or at great expense. Many of these settings enfold facilities and necessitate costly ongoing maintenance.
These citizens freely support these and a myriad of other passive or active recreational purposes as a matter of ordinary consideration for others and also as good public policy. They—and many others—however, believe that supervised off-leash activity for families with dogs within designated areas of beach also represents valid use of public space: but which, unlike other recreational designations, costs the Town of Fairfield virtually nothing
Celebrating how extraordinarily fortunate we are...
In parallel, our beach access offers unmatched and enviable opportunity for family recreational activities that most US cities can only dream of offering— indeed, the Town of Fairfield is extraordinarily fortunate in this regard— and our members are disappointed that it has been curtailed despite the impassioned and overwhelming opposition demonstrated at the public hearing prior to rules changes in 2008.
Many are so-called “childless” couples who nevertheless financially support the town's school system (more than half of the Town's budget is diverted to public education): and question why it is so difficult to gain recognition of the needs and interests of their own families with “4-legged children.”
For our members, the term dog “owner” is shunned: “Guardian” (not owner) is worn proudly, and identifies the remarkable, acute, and sometimes painful bond that exists between us human beings and our animal companions. This philosophy has led to representing the guiding principle of our group:
Our philosophy: “Families Together... ”
Approximately 25% of our members visit from their homes in nearby communities
a 17-mile radius;
and a further
10% from a greater (often significantly greater) distance
Some take delight in visiting the beaches with their dogs while in town to call on relatives or friends, many of those having resided in Fairfield in the past. While concentrated in the tri-state area, some visit from other states as far as the Pacific Coast; and are anxious that Fairfield preserve its reputation as a progressive, welcoming community that continues to accommodate dogs—and their families—during the off-season.
Out-of-town dog guardians represent an important economic resource for Fairfield: many of these members patronize local retailers and restaurants while in town during their visits to walk their dogs at the beach (more than a few having adopted dogs from the town's shelter subsequent to enjoying a weekend sojourn); some have enjoyed it so much, they’ve formed scheduled lunch groups… others have bought property in town, in part: specifically owing to Fairfield’s
off-season access policy.
Perhaps not surprisingly, many of our members do not have dogs in their families: they minimally believe that dog guardians should have similar rights of use of the beach that other groups hold, particularly during the winter (off-season), when—were it not for people with their dogs—the beach is commonly deserted.
More immediately, they encourage off-leash exercise as a direct avenue to “good canine citizenry,” an important cost-free benefit to the Fairfield community-at-large, and which town government should be expected to actively support.
Many take simple delight in just watching dogs romp freely: “there is no greater pleasure for me... than to visit the beach and enjoy the dogs dashing about in careless abandon…” wrote one “no dog” resident to us.
Indeed, there is an uncomplicated, down-to-earth pleasure to be had, beholding the dogs as though we ourselves once were: children on a playground... absorbed in the moment, lacking pretention or prejudice, paying no regard to physical attributes or political barriers... most all forming “just-met” friendships with startling swiftness… and why not? it’s all in fun! Our members take pleasure in the off-leash beach as:
a place that can bring us closer to what we were,
what is possible, and what we wish could be
within our human interactions...
Some of the other reasons
that members support our efforts include:
- Merchants, realtors, and other residents interested in improving the area's attractiveness to tourists
- People interested in providing an optimal recreational experience in the area;
- People who want reasonable government policies defining respectful uses for public beaches;
- People concerned with the humane lifetime treatment of dogs, and knowledgeable about the importance of socialization in the process to become a “good canine citizen”;
- People committed to fulfilling their responsibilities to ensure that both their dog's physical and emotional needs are met;
- People interested in the social aspects of and promoting community based activities;
- People explicitly concerned for the immediate safety of their dogs: unlike town-owned "open spaces" popular with dog walkers, hunting and discharging of firearms are not allowed on Fairfield beaches.
Our Philosophy: “Guardian,” NOT “Owner”
Throughout this site we use the term “guardian” to describe the pet parent. We eschew the term “dog owner” since it conveys a concept of dogs as property: something that is disposable... a theory of ownership which we feel should not apply to sentient beings that we respect deeply and share every aspect of our daily lives with.
This restrictive (legal) concept of pet ownership contributes to the process of bureaucratic rule-making that wrongly constrains access to public spaces with our dogs.
When we think about our dogs, the term “family” springs forth very readily: we don't hesitate to attach this inclusive and most intimate portrayal to our faithful and valiant, four-legged “children.” Daily life planning often revolves around the dog. And, without question, the dog is summoned for the family portrait.
“Guardian” (not owner) identifies this remarkable, acute, and sometimes painful bond that can exist between human beings and their canine companions.
“Guardian” more clearly expresses the struggles, the first triumphs, the setbacks... the unexpected and often dramatic achievements we experience... as we journey through life stages side-by-side. It reworks the ordinary and sometimes dismissive perception of personal relationships with animals, and holds close the powerful idea that we respect and honor the essence of their instincts, their feelings, what interests them... their very lives... their warm and tenderhearted souls.
Implicit in the term “Guardian”
is everything that embodies responsibility and commitment:
and thus we are creating the most fundamental, treasured, and enduring relationships with these animals who share our lives.
We allow them a dignity that they deserve: not as property, but as individual beings that are vitally important to us, and who gently nurture the concept of family itself. This seemingly nuanced but critical change in dialect elevates in our eyes our companions' status from that of easily disposable property... to individual being. “Guardian” radiates optimism, hope... but most importantly:
a pledge of enduring security.
As we examine the travails of our own lives, the term “guardian” honors their profound role as emotional support systems that often aid our survival of challenges in day-to-day life. Are our dogs family? The question need not be asked. And so for the maxim adopted as the guiding principle of our group, we have chosen:
He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being:
by the way he rests against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile...
by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him.
I think perhaps, it makes him sick with worry when he is not along to care for me.
When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive.
When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile.
When I am happy, he is joy unbounded. When I am a fool, he ignores it.
When I succeed, he brags.
Without him, I am only another man.
With him, I am all-powerful.
He is loyalty itself.
He has taught me the meaning of devotion. With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace.
He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant. His head on my knee can heal my human hurts.
His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things.
He has promised to wait for me... whenever... wherever— in case I need him.
And I expect I will— as I always have.
He is just my dog.”