One of the best things about Barnsbury is, in my mind, Barnsbury Square. Having spent a few months looking for a suitable space to socialise my two little hounds I discovered the square. Initially I had been doing loops of the area, taking in Thornhill Square, Barnard Park - top and bottom, Thornhill Gardens and Barnsbury Square.
Unfortunately however I had several close shaves with other dogs in Barnard Park . On one occasion a group of Staffies which were off the lead charged at my Scrap while he was still tiny - out of the blue and completely unprovoked. It was clear that as a pack they viewed him as prey and would have treated him as such had they managed to get hold of him. Luckily another dog owner was sitting on one of the benches and managed to grab him as he ran by.
A few weeks later Scrap was charged by a 3 legged rescue Greyhound - although the Greyhound was muzzled he managed to scoop and flip Scrap several feet into the air. Luckily it appears Papillon pups are less fragile than they look! This just goes to show that muzzling does not mean your dog can't be injured - this scoop and flick is something I have often seen - particularly in sight hounds - with the intention of breaking the prey's neck.
The final straw was when I learnt that a particular Akita that uses the park has killed at least one smaller dog. I was outraged by this - not just because such a dog was being walked off the lead and unmuzzled in a public space, but because I had specifically asked the owner whether he was friendly towards smaller puppies and been assured that he 'loved them'.
After those episodes I realised that allowing my dogs into the Barnard 'Dog' Park was jeopardising their safety and so I gave up going. I felt disappointed by this as I am a firm believer in socialising pups with as broad a range of other breeds as possible but I can't risk their lives for my ideals.
Sadly I soon stopped walking over the other side of Barnard Park for similar reasons - on several occasions my dogs were pinned down by much larger, out of control breeds. It had come to the stage where I was wondering whether there was anywhere nearby where my dogs could safely stretch their legs and thankfully there was - Barnsbury Square.
The great thing about the Square is that it is frequented by smaller, nicer and typically better behaved dogs than anywhere else I've been to in Islington. I believe this is due to the great community spirit in the Square, greatly fostered by the Friends of Barnsbury Square. I can't think of anything that better represents English Community and its quirks than the regular Tuesday afternoon tea and biscuits for dogs, owners, and anyone else who cares to join.