January 20, 2015

Dog Park Dirt


Boca's visit to a big off-leash park this past Saturday went very well, but there were a few things I left out of my narrative yesterday, since I didn't think they fit in with a leash review. Any time you have a large variety of dogs and people running amok on a substantial piece of property, there are bound to be...stories.

Toddlers Unleashed

Who decides that a busy, muddy dog park, with huge dogs racing by, people navigating trails and trying to keep track of their dogs, strange dogs running, jumping, playing and greeting is a great place to leave their barely-walking little one to its own devices? Quite a few people, apparently. I dodged several knee-high kiddos toddling down the middle of the path, and my heart traveled briefly into my throat when Boca and a Chow mix intersected right in front of one for a meet & sniff. The greeting was thankfully friendly and appropriate, but the toddler nearly barreled between the dogs waving a plastic bag, the parents oblivious. I don't think a lot of people realize how quickly a situation like that can go wrong, and that a dog park is not the best place for small children.

The Poop Pantomime

It's only a matter of time before a dog blogger talks about dog poop, right? Boca had been to the vet's office before our dog park adventure, and it had turned her stomach a bit...nervous. In my focus on her new leather leash, I neglected to bring my poop bag bag, but there were stations scattered around the dog park, so I grabbed an extra after picking up the first pile. One extra. Boca had several more bouts of...nervousness...and honestly, there was very little to...collect...but all the people that saw my dog squat repeatedly didn't know that, so I hurried after her with my one, already-full poop bag going through the motions of picking up the unpickupable. 

Dogue de Bord-No 

After Boca's stomach recovered, she was strolling around happily, politely greeting dogs medium and small. I have seen her get intimidated by large dogs before - in particular, she was frightened of two boisterous Bernese Mountain dogs at the Woof Pack event this summer. When I saw a gigantic Dogue de Bordeaux lumbering toward her, I watched her reaction carefully. Her tail went between her legs as the dog approached, and she shrunk back. The dog seemed young and jolly and continued to advance, and that's when Boca opened her mouth wide and emitted her shrill screech. It's a noise that's difficult to describe - halfway between a whine and a scream - and one she makes when she and Ruby are playing bitey-face, so its message is not always one of "get the hell away from me, monstrous mastiff," but this time it was. The Dogue de Bordeaux looked just as shocked as the people that heard Boca's banshee howl, and trundled off in search of more receptive playmates.

Dog parks can mean acres of anxiety for a control-freak like myself, but even with their potential for mishap, it's hard not see the appeal when huskies are racing by with their tongues hanging wildly out of their mouths, Shiba Inus are mincing haughtily down the trail, Aussie puppies are wiggling practically out of their merle fur as they are surrounded by adoring fans and my own dog is trotting purposefully through the grass, white-tipped tail swinging, glancing back at me every so often, checking in. We might have to go back again soon for some more dirt...

17 comments:

  1. Glad to know I'm not the only person who has done a fake poop pick up when there's nothing more than a couple of unpickupable drops on the ground. :)

    I enjoy taking Honey to the dog park. But we only go very early on weekend mornings when there are only a small handful of dogs and their people. And rarely small children.

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    1. It was an unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon here in Denver and EVERYONE was out. Next time we will go on a Friday morning - fewer people means less stress!

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  2. The poop pantomime is also fun when you can't FIND the poop!

    Congrats to the Bord-no for reading Boca's signals. I'm picturing a Jurassic Park dinosaur when I try to imagine her shriek.

    Know what's worse than a toddler toddling at a dog park? A knee-high toddler wielding a Chuck-It. Or EATING. Seriously, what's wrong with people?

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  3. Hmmm...I guess that puts things in perspective for me. I was on a trail last week where the dog obviously had an upset tummy. Maybe the humans picked up the first pile but weren't prepared for the others that followed? It helps to hear the other side of the story rather than the rant in my own head about lazy owners...so thank you for that! It never occurred to me that something like that could be a complete surprise to the owner too. :)

    I stopped going to the dog park for a lot of reasons - one of them being the flagrant disregard of almost all of the rules posted! I'm such a rule follower and it drives me batty to see people just doing whatever they want. The rules are there to keep everyone safe - please, NO children! Although it is amazing to me that not once have I ever actually heard of a child being injured inside of a dog park - so maybe I'm just being too rigid in my thinking...

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  4. I totally agree about the toddlers.. Who does that?? I've seen so many!! Also one time there was a family there allowing their 10 year old to chase after the dogs and run around with them. I actually said something and the mother flipped out on me! There were signs everywhere saying not to do that!! That the kids needed to be seated and not bother the dogs. Sigh.. Then there was the other mother who allowed her very young children to play in the sand.. like make mud pies and sand castles.. I was astonished to say the least.. I told her, you realize that this place is full of giardia, right? (among other things!!) I had just gotten done treating Zoe for it! (Giardia is very common in Oregon, lots of standing water) Parents are unbelievable!

    I've also totally been there with the extra drip no poop, poop. Not fun, especially when other owners are watching and Phoenix does a similar scream when she does not like a dog, we've been there with a pit bull that wouldn't listen and wouldn't back off, it was so not fun.

    Dog parks totally make me nervous, too!

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    1. There are so many parks and playgrounds for kids. I can see if you have a little kid and a dog you want to "multi-task" but there are just so many things that seem like common sense that people don't pay attention to.

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  5. Oh man. Every last minute of that toddler experience would have driven me insane. Barley's herding instincts really kick in when small things are moving around, especially in the awkward way little kids move around. I'm so glad that Boca was a good pup and handled their presence well!

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  6. I had to giggle when you mentioned the fake poop pickup.

    I've run into that issue before on the trail when forgetting to put more poop bags in Bain's backpack, and of course something he ate wasn't agreeing with him. So he ended up ghost pooping several times before going back home.

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  7. Toddlers?! Who does that?! That's just a recipe for disaster. Oy.

    I am so, so glad to read I'm not the only one to have faked a pick up! Pike especially likes to "fake out" when he poops, so he'll squat repeatedly without actually pooping.

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    1. From the comments I'm gathering that we have all "faked it!"

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  8. One of my dogs seems to think ghost pooping is terribly funny to pull when there are lots of people around. I know she does it on purpose with no medical reason.

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  9. I thought that you were going to write about all the germs in the dirt. I had a dog who got a serious toe bone infection, which the vet thought was from infected dirt getting into a paw pad. I have to admit that I've pretty much given up on dog parks.

    Those toddlers? What is wrong with their parents? I've seen the same thing, and I cannot imagine what the parents are thinking.

    I'd love to hear the Boca "scream". It sounds unique.

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    1. Oh my...between the germs and the terrible stabbing incident at a Lakewood dog park over the weekend, a few more reasons to stay away...

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  10. It's always an adventure going to a dog park. I don't take Haley often, but we always seem to run into toddlers and some of the common problem situations. I love April's term "ghost pooping", haha!

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    1. I do, too - I can just imagine replying to a dirty look by saying "It's okay, she's only ghost pooping!"

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