For the past few months, I have been taking my dog Shadow to the dog park. I’m a newbie at the dog park. I’m still learning about how the dogs interact. Besides being fascinated by dog behavior, I am becoming ever more fascinated by the semblance of characters that are human.
People are very serious about their pets, as they should be. I love my dog and he’s part of my family. The dog park is great stimulation for a one-year-old puppy who needs to get rid of stored up energy. Shadow has no attention span when it comes to the park. He starts chasing after one dog and his head goes back and forth, searching for what else is happening along the way. He darts from one end of the park to the other. I cannot keep up with him.
When you mix different dog personalities it becomes very interesting. Certain dogs don’t have tolerance for specific dogs. I’m learning that they all have unique personalities, the same as humans do.
Speaking of humans, my fascination with their interactions at the dog park piques my interest even more. One lady brought her young dog into our off-leash dog park and Shadow wanted to play with him right away. The owner was very nervous as she shouted, “Now, don’t you use your mouth.” My question was, “What else are they going to use?” Dogs play by mouthing each other along with using their paws to spar. That’s what dogs do. This particular owner was extremely over the top because the dogs were playing nicely. Did I mention that she brought an air horn with her in case there was a boxing match between the dogs? I was astonished at the level of fear she brought into the park with her.
I came across a different owner the other day. Her dog looked like a Doberman but he was small and fat. I thought maybe he was a mixed breed but she was sticking by her story. I thought Dobermans were a taller, sleeker breed. Once again, he wanted to play but she didn’t want him to use his mouth either. I found her to be a bit eccentric. I commented on how shiny her dog’s coat was and she went on about how people give their dogs raw eggs to make the coat shiny. But, she explained that if eggs are clogging the arteries of people, it certainly cannot be good for the dogs so she used cod liver oil instead. That’s what her mother gave her when she was little. Hmm, I wondered if it made her skin shiny. I don’t know.
Moving along to the characters that I have met, there’s a little dog, kind of scruffy, who doesn’t like Shadow at all. I don’t know why but he has never liked him. Whenever Shadow approaches, the dog snarls at him and Shadow retreats. There has never been an altercation and I stay close to Shadow so as to be able to break up a situation if need be. The owner of this dog continues to yell at Shadow. I was allowing the two dogs to interact because I felt this was a teaching moment for Shadow to learn boundaries and cues from other dogs. As I stated before, I stay close to avoid conflict. The other owner clearly stated to me that his dog is not very social but he continued to yell at Shadow. I subsequently put Shadow on the leash and escorted him to the other end of the park. I shared this interaction with another woman. I was aggravated because I was at an off-leash dog park and I had to put my dog on a leash because Mr. scruffy isn’t very social. I was ranting and raving about why a person would bring a dog to the dog park who isn’t very social. The owner of Mr. Scruffy happens to be an attendant at the dog park and he should know better than to bring his anti-social dog to the park.
Another owner came in with who I believed to be his mother. This man did not want any dog near his dog. His dog just wanted to play. I approached the man, trying to be kind and ease his fearfulness. I asked him about his dog and he wouldn’t answer me. His mother, who was cloaked in a long fur coat with a hood to the point that you couldn’t see her face, barely responded with the dog’s name but I couldn’t understand what she said. I continued to try to speak kindly to the man and he kept shooing Shadow away. He was a mean type of person and eventually, I gave up and put Shadow on the leash and led him away, muttering out loud that the other dog apparently isn’t allowed to play. I was so irritated and went to the other end of the park and told my friends why Shadow was once again being ‘punished’ by being put on the leash at the off-leash dog park.
Most people that I encounter here are very friendly and cohesive. Our dogs get along very well and we have all become our own little pack. But, you never know who is going to come through that gate and what baggage they are going to bring with them.
We are talking about a dog park. You know, a dog park for dogs to run free and play. Sometimes I wonder if it’s not a place for the mentally deranged, over the top, off-kilter types of people. Dogs feel the energy of their owners and that spreads to the other dogs. Most times, the dogs come in happy and ready to be free but I wonder if some of the dog altercations are coming from the negative energy that the owners bring with them. I’m going out on a limb here and blaming the humans. And, that’s all I have to say about that.