Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dorothy Does Dogpark

Last Friday, when it was a cool and humane 80 degrees instead of the 102 it is today (oh when we were young and times were merry!), Dorothy and I set out on an evening walk.  It wasn’t going to be an ordinary walk, I decided; instead, we would head towards the dogpark and see how far we got.  The dogpark is a fenced-in area about 7½ blocks from my apartment.  There’s a small area for small dogs and a large area for all other dogs and small dogs with a napoleon complex (you know who you are).  The small dog area was where my pug, Tulip, had her monthly pug meet-ups, and the first few years we often walked down just so she could be off-leash and “socialize” (and yes, for those of you who knew the middle-aged and then elderly Tulip, by “socialize” I mean walk around greeting the people and begging for treats).

Anyway, the walk to the dogpark is very do-able for a normal dog; but as readers of this blog know, Dorothy is not too keen on an outdoors walk.  So I thought maybe we’d go halfway and then each time hereafter walk farther.  But the evening was cool and fine for walking.  And I had the clicker with me, which always makes Dorothy concentrate a bit more on the task at hand.  So we got closer and closer to the dog-park, until we were only a few blocks away and I knew we were going to make it (cue "Chariots of Fire" music here).

Lo and behold we were at the dogpark gates!  Dorothy was suspicious.  I had to carry her through the gates, because she was having none of them.  However, once we were inside, she was curious.  The area is actually pretty big, although its surface is a mixture of pebbles and dust with the occasional shade tree here and there, and benches around the edges (unfortunately, when the wind blows, clouds of dust billow around the park, so it is not unlike taking one’s dog for a romp in the Sahara.  Note to self: don’t wear contact lenses to park Ever.)  After a few dogs had greeted Dorothy and she seemed comfortable, I took her leash off.  

And did Dorothy immediately go check out the dogs, or start to run, or pay attention to the dogs who had come up to check her out?  No, no she did not.  What she did do was go around to all the benches, and scramble up on the bench if there was room, and if there wasn’t room, she scrambled up on the people who were sitting on the benches.  And once there:  she gave kisses.  So while the big dogs galloped and the medium dogs trotted and the small dogs scurried and gamboled, Dorothy sat on benches and smooched.

After about twenty minutes, however, she began to be curious about what her fellow creatures were doing (and no doubt began to be a bit dry-mouthed and chapped-lipped from all the kissing), and ventured forth to join their ranks.  She was very savvy about it for the most part.  She was interested in the dogs who had sticks, and she was interested to see if they would give their sticks to her.  So she would tentatively and politely nibble on an edge and see what the reaction was.  If negative, she would go on her way; if positive, she would tighten her hold on the free end of the stick!  At one point she started running around going crazy and letting out all her energy – and Dorothy, I discovered, is a fast runner!  She left many a dog in the dust, until she was finally overtaken by an Irish Wolfhound named Rocco.

There were a lot of nice dogs there, too: a very low-to-the-ground Basset Hound, a friendly fat blue pitbull named Benny, who was wearing a spiffy orange bandana and whom all the people there seemed to know well, many labs and retrievers, some viszlas, a pair of fat puggles, and many more.  Dorothy had a good time, all in all, and she especially enjoyed getting fed water from a nice lady’s water-bottle.  That was fun!

Our return walk home was at tortoise speed, but that was to be expected, since a good hour and a half had elapsed since we left home.  I did have to carry Dorothy on the penultimate block, where she lay down panting, but after such an excursion, I was happy to do it.  Now if the temperature would only drop a bit, we’ll attempt dogpark trip #2!

Dorothy, ready to go to the dogpark again:

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