I am wary about dog parks. They are great business for veterinarians. This mean that dogs can get hurt at a dog park. Yet I serve on the Parks and Recreation board (16 years total so far,) and when we build a new community or large park, we include a dog park. That’s what the people ask for in a park.
I cringe whenever I see a dog off leash. I live next to a dedicated prairie, the Cathy Fromme Prairie, dog laws strictly enforced. But still, every time I walk Ivy on the paved trail, some yahoo has his or her dog off leash.
One dude on a bike was running his mutt off leash while he pedaled in comfort. I asked him to please leash his dog. His reply, “Oh get over it.” Oh well, there are only so many park rangers, and they are usually elsewhere.
On the prairie, there are an uncountable number of rattlesnakes in the grass. Want to see one in the heat of the day? Surprise one. It doesn’t want to eat you, you are too big. So is your dog. However, the coil and strike maneuver is the snake’s defense mechanism. I’m teaching Ivy the word, “sidewalk,” so she knows not to yaw off the trail. If you want to go and look at a snake, go in the early morning, when they are basking in the warmth of the pavement after a cool night. When it warms up, the snakes retreat to the cooler underbrush.
The dumbest thing I’ve seen on the prairie was a grown woman with a black Lab, and a tennis ball launcher. She actually was going to have her dog chase balls through snake-infested grass. Oy.
In my old neighborhood made up largely of college students, I asked dog walkers to please put Fido on a leash. Their retort: “This dog is on voice command.” Sorry, dudes and dudettes, there is no such thing. Sure, your dog may come with you and be good for regular or boring things, but if it sees something exciting like a racing bunny rabbit, pause for mental image of a racing bunny, voice command is no more.
So today I took Ivy to the dog park. It’s on the east side of town. I live on the west side. I go to this park because it is not frequented by students and their largely untrained dogs, who prefer the west side dog park at the very end of Horsetooth Road. We people know each other, and our dogs know each other as well. A lady came in with her doodle-it’s fun to see an adult version of my Ivy-and promptly yelled at a man with what she called an aggressive dog. He wasn’t aggressive. He met dogs with a bark, and maybe a chest bump. Then he settles in to play. She took her dog to the end of the park. She stayed there. Her “dood” came back to the other dogs to play.
Just as there is no voice command, at the dog park, there is not much obedience. The dogs are there to run and play. If we leave them alone, they work it out. Once, I was there with just a few people. Two women came in with a truly aggressive dog, the women oblivious to the sign prohibiting them. The dog went after our little cadre of mutts. We nicely said that her dog was aggressive and should be removed. Totally different behavior than the man’s dog who settled down. This dog didn’t, and attacked again. The ladies got the message and left.
Ivy loves the dog park, and she is a popular figure to see. It’s kind of like the TV show, “Cheers” where everyone shouts, “NORM” when he enters the bar. She knows how to play appropriately and socialize, which will serve her well.
Go to the dog park, don’t go to the dog park. It’s entirely up to you. But before you go, read up a little on canine behavior, OK?