Why you see plenty of dogs, but no farmers and pilots at Thompson's Field any more

By Dan Hamilton
Photo by Barry A. Donahue
Dog walkers enjoy Thompson's Field HARWICH - (08/22/04) "I know a lot of people complain about the number of dogs in there." Say what? John Chatham is not the Harwich dog officer. But as Harwich Conservation Administrator he gets calls about use of Thompson's Field, the most popular dog-walking spot for miles around.

The history books make a mockery of such complaints. Who ever heard of a working farm with no dogs? Between 1914 and 1917, the prominent Thompson family, operators of Snow Inn, bought the property and farmed it. Their inn served food grown and raised at Thompson's Field.

The farm stayed in use until 1978, so animals were no strangers to the property. At various times it hosted pigs, chickens, mules, and cows. And presumably dogs. But today, complaints and all, Thompson's Field has become a virtual Disneyland for dogs. Its man-made trails, running water, signs, poop-mitt dispensers, groomed parking areas, and mowed meadows comprise a beautiful if somewhat artificial landscape -- if you like canines.

Farmers, bicyclists, hikers, hunters, model airplane enthusiasts, picnickers, ball players, stargazers, campers, artists, and wildflower experts are either no longer welcome on these 57 town-owned acres, feel they're no longer welcome, or just refuse to consider that many of these activities can co-exist with dogs.

It all depends on your point of view, which side of the yawning chasm between dog lovers and the rest of the human race you occupy. ....