I've always considered love of animals to be a key sign of good character. They depend upon us, defend us if need be, leap for joy when we walk in the door - what's not to like? (Well, ignore the parts about chewed furniture, hair everywhere and drool on your good black pants.) They do so much to fit into our lives - they sit, lay down, hang out while we're at work and wait patiently when the 10-year-old is 2 hours late in feeding them dinner.
Yes, as I've written before, I love my dogs. I've been very excited about the development of our first local dog park. I was looking forward to going because a) it's good exercise and socialization for my two canine friends, b) because I get to meet other dog people, who are typically very social, and c) the pups come home completely worn out and plop on the rug snoring for the rest of the evening (instead of the puppy stealing and chewing on a series of my daughter's toys.)
The dog park has a double gate much like an air lock in a submarine that prevents puppies from dashing out unaccompanied or unleashed. And there are two separate areas: one for big dogs and one for small dogs who don't want to be trampled by the big ones. Cookie, our seven-year-old Lab, starts to cry and whine as soon as she sees that we're pulling into the dog park driveway. And as soon as we open the inner gate she and Boomerang, our 8-month-old Aussiedoodle, streak toward the cluster of dogs at the other end of the enclosure.
There are a couple of guidelines for the park so everyone can have a good time:
- Keep your dog at home if he or she is aggressive toward other dogs or people
- Children under 10 are not allowed, and I totally get it, even if it's less convenient for us. I see every day what my 4-year-old doggie loving daughter does to show her affection. Her dogs tolerate being squeezed around the neck and chased mercilessly, but other dogs might not. In addition, there are some horse-sized regulars at the park who might intimidate or accidentally knock over a little one who gets in their path.
- Pick up after your dog, please. There are dumpsters for disposing of "buddy bags" so people don't have to worry about land mines.
- Just like in school, if you bring treats you'll be VERY popular, so bring some for everybody.
- Although there's a water fountain at the entry, on a hot evening you'll want your own supply in the area where you're hanging out. Your dog won't drink it - they'll drink out of everybody else's bowls - but the other doggies will thank you for it.
- Balls and Frisbees are welcome but not necessary. Your pups' main activities will be sniffing other dog's parts (you know which ones) and doing crazy puppy laps as they greet the new arrivals.
If you're a business owner or have some influence in your local community, please consider advocating for a dog park. So many times dog walkers are (inadvertently) the bane of trail walkers' existence, and the park gives them a designated place to give their puppies some exercise. I would never recommend a "no pets" policy at a park - in my opinion that's like saying don't bring your kids to the playground if they're not potty trained. But the dog park has quickly become one of my favorite places.