So we finally brought Dobby to our community’s dog park. This wasn’t just a delay on the 9 months that we’ve had her. Oh noooo…before we could get a permit for her to use the dog park, Joe and I had to get Community ID cards. I mean, we’ve only been living here for 7-1/2 years without them. We weren’t actually trying to be delinquent or anything…just never really did anything that would warrant needed them. Well, except for the 2 times we used the handball court. Or those 3 months last year when I walked the bike track for a half hour 5 days a week. But no one asked us for our ID cards then, so nope, we had never gotten them. We needed ID cards to get Dobby’s tag for the dog park though, so we jumped through all of the required hoops and were ready.

Dobby is normally VERY friendly to everyone….people of all shapes, sizes, ages, colors, abilities and uniforms/clothing. And she’s very friendly with dogs too…she does the “social sniffing” thing whenever we’re at PetSmart or visiting our friends who have dogs and when we’re at Obedience Class, she’s the one running around like a maniac, playfully “beating up” on the other dogs (She looks so vicious when she does it, too. I checked with the obedience trainer several times: “Are you SURE that’s just playing?” “Oh yeah…if she really wanted to hurt the other dogs, she would.” But she also explained what Dobby’s doing that shows it’s play and not an attack, so I know it’s OK.). So I knew she would have a blast at the dog park.

Joe and I brought her this past Wednesday. As we arrived, two big dogs and their owners were leaving and then, as luck and timing would have it, we were the only ones in the dog park. Probably the best thing so she could get used to the space (which is huge, by the way, totally fenced in and several hundred feet wide and deep). She had a blast playing fetch with us (the dog park has a good dozen tennis balls for the dogs to play with, plus community water bowls).

Eventually 4 other HUGE dogs got there and although I wasn’t sure how Dobby would handle it, I, the overprotective doggy mom, didn’t feel comfortable with her being there with them. Not just yet, anyway. So we took her into the fenced area reserved for “non social dogs”, next-door. It was significantly smaller, but still gave her enough space to run and fetch.

The weather was not cooperating and when the threat of rain got too big, we decided to go home. Dobby had other ideas though and it took a while for us to catch her because I think she was just having too much fun having all that space to run and not be on a leash. And then in the midst of her “hahaha, you can’t get me” antics, she whipped herself into that frenzy that we lovingly call Apeshit Puppy, where she’s going at 200% and there is just NO stopping her. But eventually she ran out of energy, got tired, slowed down and let us leash her. I figured next time I would bring some “coveted” treats with which to try to lure her, just in case.

Joe was working late the next day so I decided to bring Dobby to the dog park by myself. I decided to go to the “big park” again and this time there were several dogs already in attendance. I liked how as we got closer to the gate, they all ran over to check out and say hi the new blood, LOL! Dobby was interested but unsure so I let her say hi through the fence first and kept her on the leash even once we got inside the double gate, so she could stay nearby and I could pick her up quickly if I had to. The other dogs stiffed her and she sniffed them back as well as she could while still on a leash. I think she started to become a little overwhelmed though…eventually she become surrounded and her tail went WAY down between her legs, so I picked her up for a little while and then, when she showed interest in the dogs again, I put her down. That was what we did for the first 10 minutes or so, up and down, up and down. Finally she was comfortable enough to just say down and say hi to the other dogs.

I walked over to where they had some picnic benches and greeted the rest of the humans. They all seemed nice, although very much already acquaintances with each other and there I was, the “new girl,” so my shyness took over (For those of you who know me, yes, believe it or not. Underneath all that bravado…) and I didn’t say much. It was OK though, because I was more interested in watching Dobby than talking to them anyway, LOL!

Meanwhile, a lot of the dogs were VERY interested in me. Not because I’m really dog fodder so much as the fact that I had stashed a full Pupperoni treat in my jacket pocket (remember that “lure?”). After 5 minutes of several drooly dogs trying to get into my pocket, I put the treat back in the car.

Dobby had definitely hit the “big time”…no little dogs for her to “beat up on”…these were all big guys:

Christmas was a mixed breed who had a lot of Australian Shepherd in him and he spent his time “herding” other dogs. Dobby apparently was a challenge for him to herd, though…she kept running in different directions! And let me tell you – when unleashed and with room to run, she runs FAST!

A dog on the smaller side of large (didn’t get his name but he looked like Sandy from “Annie”) really PLAYED with her…went into play position and everything. But they only paid attention to each other here and there.

George was a Bassett Hound who apparently LOVED Dobby…he followed her everywhere, ran with her, barked at her nonstop and drooled all over her, LOL! (eventually George’s “parents” leashed him so he wouldn’t freak Dobby out too much – she didn’t seem to mind the playing or the drool, but I knew she didn’t like his barking – she had an issue with loud noises).

There were other dogs there who tended to ignore her more often than not. She didn’t care though…she was having fun!

After a good hour of running around with the dogs and/or chasing balls that I threw and/or exploring the far corners of the dog park, she was finally so tired that she came when called and didn’t even give me grief about putting her leash on, LOL!

She slept HARD when we got home!

I posted something about our dog park adventure on Facebook and got a message from Janey, a neighbor on our street who also happens to work at “our” vet. She strongly suggested we not “play with the big dogs” again, because they could be so dangerous to a little one. In thinking about it, I knew she was right. So I think we’ll use the “non social dog” space for quick outings (it’s only 5 minutes from our house) and check out the various dog parks with spaces specifically for small dogs, until we find one that we like. Plus we’re probably going to look at a doggie day care place for the days when we know neither of us will be home for several hours…she wont’ be alone in the house that way and she’ll have other small dogs to play with.

Oh, and that possessiveness (we now know it’s called “resource guarding”) issue we’ve been having? It’s changed and increased to include “I’m going to growl and snap when I’m mad” too. She was playing with my mother-in-law the other day and snapped at me when I picked her up (“Hey! Do you MIND? I’m PLAYING!”). And then I found out she bit the groomer on Monday. Drew blood and everything. Great, huh? We’ve been working with our obedience trainer at PetSmart to figure out way to make her drop stuff that she’s stolen, without biting us. But I always felt that was just putting a Band Aid on it and not really solving the problem of her stealing stuff in the first place and then being possessive of it. On top of that, these new behaviors are far worse. So we’re hiring a dog behavior guy – he’s coming for an initial consultation next Thursday.  Fingers crossed that we can nip this in the bud!

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