RIP, Winnie The Pooh

Teona Pipiya Johnson writes:

This weekend, our dog was hit by a car when he ran out of Winslow Park. My 10-year-old son Alex — a 5th grader at Kings Highway Elementary School — wants to share a letter with the Westport community, in an effort to save other dogs.

If you have recommendations on what we can do to make this park safer for dogs, please let us know.

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Dear Westport:

On Saturday I was volunteering at the library with my mom. After our shift ended we were looking for books, when we got a call from my dad. He said my dog got hit by a car. We rushed to get out of there.

A little while later we got a call from my dad again, saying my dog died. I was so sad, and so were my dad and mom.

The Johnsons, and their dog.

The reason he died is because he was running out of Winslow Park. There was this perfectly high stone wall … and a literal 5-foot gap. He ran and ran. When he came to the road he stopped for a split second and ran. And when he was in the middle of the road he got hit by a car. He got hit in the head and died immediately. The good thing is that he had no pain.

We have been grieving ever since he died. April 30, 2022 is the WORST DAY EVER. We cried and cried.

My point is that we should close off that big gap in Winslow Park. Some dogs died before my dog the same way, and I want to prevent that from happening to other dogs in the future.

My dog was only 3 years old. His name was Winnie the Pooh.

RIP Winnie The Pooh. We love you so much. You will forever be in our hearts, and will be with us in spirit. Love you so much Winnie.

Winnie the Pooh.

17 responses to “RIP, Winnie The Pooh

  1. So sorry for your loss Alex and family. It’s really great you are trying to help others by writing this excellent article. Hopefully the town will take action.

  2. So sorry to hear this. It’s so sad. I completely agree that it makes no sense that there are not gates put up to prevent dogs from accidentally running onto the road. Is it the town that can make this happen?

  3. So sorry. I know the pain of loosing a beloved animal and to have it happen that way is a shame. Hope you can get the gap filled with a gate.

  4. I am so sorry to hear this – there is nothing quite like the pain of losing a beloved animal family member. Sending your whole family love.

    As far as closing the gap, this may be a proposal that the RTM can hear and consider. I’d be more than happy to discuss this and how to take that step with Alex and his parents. They may email me at LNewman@westportct.gov any time.

    • Jennifer Anderson

      This seems like a worthy cause for a fundraising effort. Westport being the dog town that it is. We don’t live there any more, but maybe someone can take this on. Seems like there may be some other problem spots in the park that need addressing. Piece of mind for everyone who uses the dog park.

  5. Susan Iseman

    I am so sorry for you & your family! I have seen dogs get struck by vehicles and it’s devastating, for sure. We have a fenced in yard and that keeps our dog from taking off. Sadly, letting a dog off leash no matter how obedient is risky. A breeder who owned AKC obedience champion dogs once told me that fencing was the only way to go. Even so called “invisible fencing ” systems are no guarantee. Animals can still get in (coyotes, fox, etc) and pets CAN & WILL escape. I have actual experience with this when dog sitting for a friend’s 3 dogs. One was a standard poodle (who are very smart) and she took off after a runner on the streets of New Canaan. I tested the collars at the invisible fencing store and they were the strongest made. Still, she took off, but luckily made it home safe after frightening the runner! It would be great if there was a fenced in dog running area somewhere in Westport for all of these pups.

  6. Very sorrowful experience. Probably a section of the dog park area could be enclosed with a deer type fence and gate? The remaining Winslow Park area closest to the busy streets should be a leashed walking area.

  7. Michaela Farquhar

    So sorry for your loss. We also lost a young dog this year so totally understand why April 30 is your worst day ever. I often drive past that gap in the wall nervous a dog might run out given, from memory, it’s in the off-leash part of the park. I do hope you’re successful having a gate or similar installed to save other families from the pain of their dog being taken too soon.

  8. Richard Johnson

    What a terrible tragedy. As a dog owner and lover, I can’t imagine what the family is going through. Unfortunately, as someone who’s visited Winslow Park many times, closing one gap in the wall will not prevent this type of tragedy. There are many gaps, the stone walls are not high enough to reliably stop a dog, and there are so many other entry points where there are no barriers at all, including at the parking lots.

    I don’t walk my dog off leash at Winslow Park because, although my dog is well trained, I am not 100% sure that if she saw a deer or squirrel and gave chase, she wouldn’t run into the road chasing it. Anyone who also isn’t 100% sure that their dog would recall to them in that situation (which based on my experience at Winslow Park, is almost every dog owner) or who can’t outrun their dog should be very cautious about having them off leash in this park.

  9. I am so very very sorry to hear of your losing your adorable Winnie the Pooh. Dogs can take off in an instant and sometimes chasing after them only makes them run faster! I have heard of this happening with other dogs at Winslow and it’s absolutely devastating – it would be nice if there were gates for access – along North Compo where more dogs are off leash. This is very upsetting to the driver in the car that hits the dog also. It is very attractive to be able to let your dog go off leash but so dangerous along that road!

  10. Nancie Rinaldi

    Losing a dog is the most heartbreaking thing. I’m so sadden to learn you lost your beloved Winnie the Pooh. He was adorable. They say owning a dog will bring you some of the best days of your life and on of the very worst. So true.

    Is there talk in town of creating a proper fenced in dog park like the one in Ridgefield? There they have a large fenced in area for large dogs and another for small dogs.

    Winslow is large enough to where a substantial fenced in dog park could be erected and still have plenty of open space. I so surprised the town has addressed this before.

    I won’t take our dogs to Winslow but I do take them to the Ridgefield dog park where they can run and romp with other dogs their size in the safety of an enclosed area.

  11. I am so sorry for your family’s loss of your Winnie the Pooh, especially given how young he still was. I think it’s great that you wrote this letter … I hope the town does address this issue. I know that gap you speak of and it makes me very nervous since there are lots of cars driving fast there so I always leash my dog when I am in that area. I definitely think filling in that gap in the wall would help deter pups from running into the street and maybe having a street sign to watch out for dogs given that there’s a dog park there.

  12. Alex Johnson

    Thank you all for your support. it’s a very tough time for me and my family.

  13. I’m so sorry for your loss. Thanks for writing a letter to this column. I don’t have a dog, but I have heard about Winslow Park. The Park is a great idea, but I heard that it is dangerous because dogs can escape into traffic quickly. Perhaps that was not the case when it was first a dog park. But, now it needs to be fixed. Let’s find a way to do that!

  14. Erica Holmberger

    I’m so sorry for your loss! We had a dog run out that same gap and almost cause a major accident. I agree, the gap needs to be closed!

  15. Toni Simonetti

    Heartbreaking. I am So very sorry. I keep my dog on leash unless we are in a completely fenced-in area. I love Winslow, but my dog stays on leash there. The nearby roads (Compo and Post) are far too dangerous.

  16. Diane & Rady Johnson

    We are so very sorry for your loss; this is heartbreaking news. We share the same last name and a love of JRT’s (Jack Russell Terriers). Please add us to your list to support making changes at Winslow Park to increase the safety in memory of your beloved Winnie the Pooh, for our Wilbur and for all the four legged friends who enjoy Winslow Park. 🐶

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