We got to the dog park at about our usual time. And, as usual, it was crowded because it was the weekend. Ray trotted in and headed to the far side of the park to meet and greet a couple of dogs that I hadn't seen before. I followed in his wake because I saw a group of people that I knew not far from where Ray and dogs were sniffing each other. When I reached the group, the woman who's dogs Ray was sniffing called out and said, "Could you get your dog away from my dogs." "Excuse me?" I replied politely. "Could you get your dog away from my dogs before he attacks them," she said coldly. I walked over to where Ray was still sniffing the dogs and grabbed his collar to drag him away. "My dogs are rescues," the woman said, "And I don't want them to be attacked." "My dog is a rescue too," I replied, deeply offended, "And he would NEVER attack another dog. He's blind." I led Ray over to the group of people and let him loose. "Go," I said to Ray who immediately turned and headed back to the woman's dogs. I followed him over and grabbed his collar again and led him away. "Go," I said to Ray who, again, immediately turned and headed back to the woman's dogs. The woman, convinced that Ray had evil intensions, clipped leashes on her dogs and left the park.
Ray ran around and played with his favorite dog, Nikki, for about an hour. Nikki, whose favorite thing is to pick up a toy that another dog wants (or steal another dog's toy) and keep it away from them, had found something good and was playing tug of war and keep away with Ray and Cherry. I don't know what happened next, but Ray and she were in a rip roaring fight. I dragged Ray off and put on his leash. Nikki retreated to a safe distance and sat down to chew on the prized toy.
I thanked my lucky stars that the unpleasant woman hadn't been there to see the fight, and that Nikki's mom, Fran, is totally reasonable when it comes to dog behavior. "Nikki," I called, "Are you all right?" "She doesn't look too concerned," said Fran. She called Nikki over and clipped on her leash. We left the park together, the dogs walking next to each other, tails wagging. They touched noses, all was forgiven.
Which brings me to my TOP TEN LIST of DOG PARK RULES (arrived at after hours and hours of in-depth dog park research.)
- If you don't want your dog to be around other dogs DON'T TAKE IT TO THE DOG PARK. (Some people just want their dog to chase balls or play with toys. But dogs have their own ideas about what they want to do. So if you want your dog to only play with you or toys, stay home.)
- If your dog has to wear a muzzle, DON'T TAKE IT TO THE DOG PARK. (I don't know why I should have to include this rule. Seems like it should be common sense. But last week a guy brought his muzzled dog to the park and turned him off-leash just as Ray was walking by. The dog immediately attacked Ray. We went home. As we were walking out the gate, the dog was attacking another dog.)
- If your dog attacks two dogs in a row, TAKE IT HOME. (We were at the park one morning when there were only 4 dogs in the park. A woman brought her dog in, who immediately went after Ray, then each of the other three dogs, two of them at once. Only then did she take it home.)
- Don't expect that there will never be dog fights and try not to overreact when there are. Dog's are like kids, sometimes things just spin out of control (like today) and sometimes there are two dogs that, for whatever reason, don't get along.
- Don't overreact when your dog is getting humped or is humping another dog. (There was a woman who's dog was randomly humping dogs. Every time he started, the woman threw a fit. She was attracting quite a bit of attention. Her husband stood around looking uncomfortable and miserable).
- Don't wear nice clothes to the dog park and don't get mad when a dog jumps up on you. Not all dogs are well-trained. So expect to get dirty.
- If you notice someone's dog taking a dump, and they are involved in a conversation with someone, point it out to them. It's easy to become distracted and most people are grateful that you let them know.
- Expect to get peed on. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. Try to figure out who the serial pee-ers are and keep an eye on them.
- If your park doesn't have running water, bring water with you. It's amazing how quickly the bowls empty out. Especially if you have a blind dog running around kicking them over and stepping in them
- Try to enjoy yourself. Walk around and talk to people. You always have a conversation starter ("What kind of dog is that?" and "You have a beautiful dog." are two good openers).
If you have a dog park rule that you want people to know about, post them in the comments. I know I'm interested.