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.
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...