Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dog park observations

My puppy is 21 weeks old now. I managed to potty train her in two weeks, thanks to some advice from friends. This was a big win because I tried a few things I saw online and bought puppy pads (which she tore to shreds), but the only thing that worked was placing a bell the puppy could reach on the door knob, and every time she goes on the carpet, lift her paw to the bell and take her out ASAP. Soon, she started ringing it when she wanted to go out. Sure, she might ring it when she's bored and just wants to go out and look for frogs after a good rain as well, but hey, that's a better problem.

So, potty trained and old enough to get all the shots, the pup is ready for the dog park. As of two weeks ago, I was something of a dog park virgin because our last dog wasn't very social and would simply sit in the corner bored and slightly irritated by all the pushy dogs around him. Needless to say, we never stayed long. With the pup, however, the dog park is necessary. She's a social dog, and she's got energy to burn. This means I have been introduced properly now, to the culture of the dog park. I have to say, the dog park is an interesting place to watch human behavior as well as dog behavior. Seeing the love dog owners have for their pets is heartwarming, and some owners, it seems, even view their pets as an extension of themselves, apologizing profusely if the dog does something embarrassing or a bit rude and jumping up and down when the dog, say, catches a ball.

Observations and reflections from a dog park newbie:

1. My husband wore an OSU jacket. I was wearing a hoodie and jeans. It took us a few minutes to notice, and it may have been a twofold coincidence, but a good number of folks at the dog park, both times, were around couples, our age, wearing sweats or college football gear. So, apparently we're a key demographic in this area.

2. On both visits there was a guy with two out-of-control dogs, and he didn't seem willing to move an inch as he watched his dog bully another one across the way as a woman tried to break the two up herself. I thought he was a statue. I'm guessing an owner like this probably frequents all dog parks.

3. "Ooh, a puppy," was repeated a lot, and my girl got enough pets to last her a week. She loved it. Puppies are the popular dogs with other owners.

4. "Ugh, a puppy," was what I imagined the older dogs were thinking as they ran from her or played without her, or pushed her down and went on about their business. She trailed along, undeterred, and engaged whatever dog would give her a few seconds of his time.

I love the dog park, but it's an exercise in hyper-vigilance when going with a growing dog. I watched her like a hawk and worried when I saw the troublemakers get to close. An older man there told us stories about all the dog park brawls he'd seen, how one owner even flashed his service weapon as warning once. He said the one we go to has not seen gun play under his watch, so I guess we picked a good playground. So dog parks: so far, so good. Think we'll continue to take her, but we'll be those overprotective owners--never too far away but insistent she "get out there" and socialize a little, so long as we know where she is and what she'd doing.

In literary news: I haven't been writing too much because I just started teaching my Flex II course, but I am committed to NaNoWriMo this year, so I have some catching up to do. I want to write a lot and have a cool little mess to clean up later. That's my goal with it.

I got the official date for the release of Don't Tease the Elephants: March 20th, 2014. Mark your calendars. No, really, mark them! I'm putting my all into this little chap, and I think you should plan to read it.

Have a beautiful week! Cheers!


  1. Hey, Jen:

    I really enjoyed this post. I started going to a dog park over a year ago for the first time. Well, probably because I didn't have a dog before then.

    The dog park that I go to is divided into into two parks. There's a bigger park for the big guys and a smaller park on the other side of the fence for smaller or special needs dogs. The park is closed on Tuesdays for cleaning up.

    My boy absolutely LOVES to go. He's extremely social and is either chasing another dog or being chased only seconds into the park.

    Most people there are very nice. They clean up after their dogs and they are part of a community. There are always the exceptions in any group. There's one woman who comes once and a while and squirts other dogs with a water bottle if they try to play with her dog. As you can imagine, this does NOT go down well with other dog owners. Seriously, why would you bring your child to a playground if you didn't want him/her to play with other children? When an upset dog owner asked the woman to NOT squirt her dog, upon hearing the dog owner's accent, the woman said, "You don't belong here." Well, that's another blog entirely. Not a nice person!

    But dog parks really are fun. My boy gets so excited every time we go. He just does not like the bath he has to take at night. :)

    Thanks for a great blog! Have fun.

  2. Yes, our dog park is like that, too, with two sections, and the afterbath is so necessary. It's amazing how much dirt our girl can pick up in an hour. Ha. The woman with a water bottle must become an antagonist in a story! Geez! But I agree, most people are just good pet owners. Thanks so much for stopping by.


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