Field Trip to a Dog Park - Tricia Breen

Today I felt a need to visit my old stomping grounds. I took the two appropriate dogs to Point Isabel, the endlessly fascinating laboratory for any amateur ethologist or anthropologist. As I irresponsibly went to get a cup of coffee at Mud Puppies, Aspen quickly became smitten with a cute little Schipperke, flirting in her very balanced fashion — "I am shy and reserved, but come hither." Boo said hello to a gorgeous intact Dobie. Both were super, as Boo no longer has any issues with intact males. There were dogs everywhere of course. As I passed 3 Huskies on leash, lunging to my little one, I gave them a wide berth.

As we set out for a nice walk, I happily observed how well behaved all the dogs were. Some were being rowdy chasers and slammers, but all were in agreement as to levels. Then I came around the corner and watched some people who stopped to chat, one couple with a little Chihuahua, the other with two Huskies. The Huskies were chasing the little one as he tried desperately to get in between his people's legs. Then he started to scream in fear as he darted around his people, evading the Huskies. Of course they thought this was a grand game, and wasn't it cool that the little one squeaked so loudly too! I was aghast. Finally the owners picked up the very loud and frightened little one, and all was ok. They certainly failed on their part of the bargain to keep their small dog feeling safe and secure. Neither owner tried to interrupt the game as the Huskies became more and more entranced with the squeaky toy. In fact, the Husky owner directed his dogs to go chase something else as they parted company.

I breathed once more and walked along, again noting some fine behavior. A very muscular small Pit Bull ran past me at a rate of speed that created a whooshing sound. She also caused a thunder on the ground with all that intensity and muscle hitting the ground. She was obsessively chasing her ball. Two herding dogs took exception and chased and barked at her. She was indifferent, ignoring the busy bodies, as she only had eyes for her ball. This was a dog genetically gifted with pure muscle, but I think she also must spend every day at Crossfit, building upon her natural gifts. I was glad that her attention was so fixed on the ball, since she was bound to encounter more nosy dogs.

As I saw more and more Northern dogs, including some with muzzles, some on leashes as they lunged at canine passersby, I said something to a group about the numbers of Northern dogs. They told me it was the Husky club. At the footbridge bottleneck, one poor woman with two dogs, one on muzzle, the other not, tried to break up the fight that the one not on muzzle had initiated with a hound. Somehow I think she wasn't having fun, and might have wisely chosen to leave at least one at home. Needless to say, Aspen crossed the bridge in my arms.

Meanwhile I watched the Dobie as he walked along, one of the most beautiful Dobies I have seen. He had the best manners of most anyone. A young, clumsy, huge Otterhound was ramming into him, trying to play in a fairly rude and unpolished manner, and the Dobie handled it beautifully. I passed a guy with a gorgeous Borzoi and an elegant little Italian Greyhound.  I asked if he wasn't worried about bringing the IG to this place, and he said he never had any problems. I hope it continues that way.

Why was it irresponsible of me to get coffee? As I walked with coffee in hand, I watched as a woman tried to separate her group of assertive and barking dogs from another group of dogs, all the while keeping her coffee safe in one hand. I know I should have both hands free while walking through this potential mine field with a 12 pound dog. As it happens, all seemed well on this outing while I was there. Aspen did not stray from me.  It only takes a minute for things to go wrong, and when I worked for a vet in Albany, they did their share of patching up dogs from incidents at the park. And I have seen ambulances at Pt. Isabel tending to people bitten trying to break up fights. But it is also magical when so many can romp and have a great time the much of the time. The complacency is alarming, and the risk is real, but at least at this destination, people are usually walking, moving along, rather than gathering in a stationary spot. This increases the chances of good outcomes. 

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Comments: 9
  • #1

    Kathleen (Saturday, 28 December 2013 20:42)

    It's always delightful reading your observations. Seeing happy dogs with attentive owners makes me smile. Today I took my senior dogs out for a walk. I have to admit it was nice not to worry who was coming or going. They don't care about other dogs anymore or people for that matter. Just want a good sniff and a roll. For me it still pays to keep both hands on the reins (no coffee here). Happy Holidays!

  • #2

    dog lover (Thursday, 30 October 2014 22:34)

    Great post! There's some really helpful information here. I just got my pup and sometime's she's a real pain, but I still love her. Keep up the good work on this blog!

  • #3

    Kathy A (Monday, 23 February 2015 01:17)

    I enjoyed your fun and elogant post. I had no idea that you had moved quite a while ago until I was checking Trish's dog training videos. Hope you are enjoying your new (now home) location. :)

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