I took Shadow to the dog park today. We usually go at the same time so he hangs out with the same group of dogs. They have their own little pack now. Today we had a special visitor named Sheena. Shadow and Sheena have met before. They are both around the same age, 10 or 11 months old. They play perfectly together and run like the wind. It is glorious to watch them run the entire length of the park with the wind in their hair. They don’t have any worries. The only thing that matters is the joy they are feeling in that very moment.
I have never really paid attention to dogs at play before. I am becoming fascinated with their interactions. They share a language that only the dogs know. If you watch closely you start to pick up on their conversations. For instance, there is one dog at the park that does not like Shadow. He has never liked him. I don’t know why, but Shadow is young and still learning to pick up cues from other dogs. He doesn’t always understand that they are not in the mood to play. Most of the other dogs are tolerant and are teaching him what their behavior means. He’s starting to get it. The one dog that doesn’t like him, certainly makes it known that he is not a fan of Shadow but for some reason Shadow refuses to believe him and then a riot ensues. I am noticing now that Shadow is starting to step back when that particular dog growls at him, but he doesn’t always back away. He better figure it out soon, though.
As I watch the dogs play, I notice that they like to spar. They both jump up on their two back legs and come at each other in a way that may look threatening but they are careful not to hurt one another. They mouth each other and nip at each others’ ears. But there is no intent to injure when they are in full play mode. They automatically know not to bite down too hard. Of course, there are occasions when that happens and there will be a loud yelp but no harm ,no foul.
When a dog means harm, there is no doubt what is happening. You cannot misinterpret their cues. Not from the human standpoint. When they are agitated, they will make their intentions known immediately. Shadow, on the other hand, will learn one way or another. When I notice a problem arising, I immediately leash Shadow and walk him away from the ruckus. All of the other dog owners do the same. We have a little community at the dog park and we realize that some personalities just won’t mesh.
While watching the dogs interact, I realized that if humans interacted like the dogs, there would never be misunderstandings. Dogs don’t talk about each other and spread rumors. They do what they do and if they don’t like what is happening, they share that very loudly and clearly. It would be great if humans could just say what’s on their mind, have it out and move on. It would only take a second for the situation to be solved. But, there’s the whole, getting feelings hurt stuff. Yes, I guess humans have it a little bit more complicated. It would feel so good if you got in a situation with someone and you didn’t like what they did or said, so you just spurted out what you thought, true to your deepest feelings ,and then both parties would just walk away with no hard feelings. Unfortunately, that’s not how the world works. Every now and then, I would love to just shout out what I am really thinking.
There is a lot of joy in watching the dogs run free and wild. There are also lessons we can learn while watching. But, humans are not dogs and we do get our feelings hurt. We have a right to have different opinions but we do not have a right to hurt each other. Eventually, I think we will also figure it out, one way or another. Hopefully, peace and harmony will be the outcome. Meanwhile, I will continue to admire the strength, and willingness to have fun as I watch my four legged friends frolick in the park.