I've been bummed out lately, because of a sprained left foot, I haven't been able to take the dogs for our daily walks. We were up to two miles a day, but because my foot got all banged up, walking just one block is very slow and it starts to ache badly. The Doc says it can take up to 6 weeks to heal, that's a long time, and we are feeling it already. It's only been 2 weeks at this point.
So in lieu, I take them to the local dog park. Tucker loves the dog park, Claire not so much. She loves her harness, loves to walk and sniff and see new (or old) stuff in the neighborhood. Tucker would rather run free and be careless. He hates the harness, he will zig zag to get in Claire's and mine way just because he can't be free. But at the same time, if I leave him behind so Claire and I can walk alone, he has a fit and goes crazy. Go figure. I endure this when we do walk, because in the end, it's all good. But at the dog park, Tucker will run like the wind, chasing every other dog who runs, and will play with any dog who shows enthusiasm. Claire likes to sniff around for about 5 or 6 minutes, then will either plop down by my side or walk around to greet the other dog owners. She doesn't do much, and the most common comment I get is "wow, what a mellow dog!" yep, mellow is the perfect word for her. Tucker on the other hand is a barker. He's mostly Terrier, and that's what Terriers do, they bark, that loud, high pitched, yelping bark, that most people can't stand to hear. When he chases other dogs he barks at them, mostly I think its to get them to play. He's a very friendly little guy, just expressive when he plays. Otherwise, he's kinda quiet at home. So, at the Dog park, he's vocal, and wild, either people laugh and say he's high spirited, or they don't say anything and I can see the annoyance on their face ( it's not hard to miss folks)..
There are two kinds of dog parks in my local area. A Park that is separated-by-size, and a park that includes all sizes. We have been to both but prefer the all included, mainly because I have two sized dogs, Claire weighs about 45lbs, Tucker about 16.
Dog parks have their own fascinating culture within themselves. I love it, and am surprised by it too.
When I take my dogs to the separated-by-size dog park, Tucker of course is welcome because he's basically the size of the others, in the small sized dog section. What's nice, is that I don't see the annoyed faces directed at him, because the other owners simply know about Terriers, and the vocalization, the crazy while-at-play look. What's bad, is I get the annoyed faces directed at Claire, because she does not like the big dog section, she doesn't want to interact with them, she'd rather just stay with me. I've gotten comments like "my dog is intimidated by the big dogs" or "your dog is supposed to be with the big ones, this side is for little ones" . Well, OK. I get that. Truth is Claire actually prefers the company of smaller dogs and Tucker will play with any size. It's really surprising how indignant people can be when it comes to separating the sizes.
At the All-sizes-included, both dogs are generally welcomed until Tucker starts in with his barking. I've been told that it riles up the other dogs, that it creates an atmosphere of chaos. Really, I've been told that. One person who said that, immediately left the dog park, because she was fearful Tucker's verbalization would stir up the bigger dogs into fighting. In all this time, I have never seen a dog fight in the park because of one dog's barking. I've never seen it. Tucker has gotten told off by bigger dogs, nothing violent, just a back off warning. Dogs are smart, they don't mess with other dogs who have issued this warning (well, of course in the case of two Alphas, you may have a problem). But over all, they have some sense, Tucker isn't elusive to this sense. It's really surprising how people tend to forget that.
I guess, we all want to protect our dogs to our fullest ability. It's natural. We love them, they are family, it's a good partnership. I would never say "dont", they need us as much as we need them. But this culture of dog parks is amazing. To me, they are dogs, animals that have been on this earth for thousands of years. For the most part they haven't evolved outside selective breeding. Science proves that the DNA of a dog is linked to the Wolf and Wild dog ancestors. The fear we feel, the want to protect, is only bred into humans. The dogs senses haven't changed, they know what's up. I think for the most part, dogs would rather protect us, than us protect them, it's in their nature, it's in their soul.
We will still go to the dog park. Tucker will still bark and chase and play. Claire will still chill out and wonder why we aren't walking the neighborhood instead. I will still see the annoyed looks on people's faces as Tucker barks, and gentle emotions lopped onto Claire as she gingerly stands by a their side. I will still love to talk to the folks who feel like me, knowing their dogs are just dogs after all. And I will still be surprised talking to the folks who go overboard and forget that their canine isn't human.