Our sweet dog Lucy is a puppy-level bundle of canine energy. She’s seven months old and loves running because she’s a 50% pitty mix with border collie, box and beagle mixed in. She has a nose for fun and isn’t afraid to run. Just like me.
Yet that makes it a challenging job to contain her behavior at times. She is still learning not to yank on the leash or follow her nose into the brush at ever scent. I’m always torn reining her in because her walks are obviously the highlight of her day. In summer she bounds after frogs into the green bushes. Now it has snowed. Everything’s brown and damped down. So now she sits and barks out the window at the fat squirrels hanging around our bird feeder.
But when she gets to the dog park it’s open season on fun. Trouble is, she can be overly assertive in her play. When the dog group is right she usually does fine. Her hyper nature passes after a few minutes and everyone gets along. But sometimes she sticks her nose where another dog doesn’t like it and some snarling ensues. Dog politics.
Of course dogs snarl when they’re at play too. Yesterday Lucy and a dog named Apple wrestled and played for a full half hour. While Lucy is fast, Apple was faster. So Lucy charged after her and Apple ran like a middle distance runner laughing at the 10K runner trying to keep up over a short sprint. Apple would glance back and you could see the playful look in her eyes while Lucy charged after with her back hackles up in frustration. Then they’d meet, wrestle some more and make a mess out of each other in the soggy grass. In fact she got so tired she trotted over to the gate and wanted to leave. That was a first for her.
Lucy has a white coat and she came home covered in mud. I took her to the tub for a bath and she was happy once she felt the warm water. Plus she smells better.
But thinking back to the dog park made me realize how much much alike dogs and people can be. The other dogs wrestled with Lucy over a stick and fortunately everyone got along. They usually do. But sometimes dogs get possessive and things get dicey for a moment. Just like people.
The sight of her running full bore around the big open field is worth the occasional intervention on my part. She’s getting socialized after being initially fearful of the whole dog park dynamic. Now my job is to teach her manners. That happens by regular visit. The other dogs also teach her too.
It’s all part of dealing at the dog park. Our goal is to get her tired enough each day to chill out when she’s at home. Then she can rest her head on our legs and dream about fun another time.
The daily walk is definitely a highlight for our lab mix. She, too would like to chase down whatever left a scent on the side of the road. Some times she’ll spot a deer, turkey, rabbit or squirrel which really tests my strength. I’d like to let her chase occasionally, but my wife is afraid we’ll never see her again. We rescued her seven years ago and I think she’s only missed two meals since then. I think she’s smart enough to find her way back home.
I have a friend whose dog is allowed free reign along the park paths north of St. Louis. She rambles through the brush sniffing out whatever she can find. They put a lighted collar on her to keep track of the dog. But she’s well-trained to return. Our pup stays near me but will run off if she sees other dogs.