We have a 50 pound Labrador-Shar Pei mix pooch that we rescued almost 2 years ago from a local shelter. Since she’s a house dog we feel often times like she needs more exercise then what we are able to give her daily, so we frequently take her to a dog park or on outtings with us. Why do we go to such lengths? Because we love her, like a child… as one of the family.
(Here she has new fallen show on her back.)
We were driving almost thirty miles or so to take her to a dog park on the opposite end of town until we discovered back in the fall that there is a good-sized well kept dog park that’s only about 5 minutes from home. We have frequented several times a month now and each time we go, the experience is a little different.
When we first started going to dog parks we had to learn some of the rules of etiquette. Just like any beginner would. We learned about picking up our dog’s poop, maintaining her composure and control, and appropriate social interactions. And I have to say that most dog owners on the opposite side of town were very welcoming, understanding, and congenial. We also learned that taking your dog’s personality and how they react in different situations into consideration is a must. I mean, this should be obvious to the average person with common sense, right?
Alright, that’s enough history for you. As with any other place there are regulars that come daily or weekly. Their dogs know each other and have developed some sort of friendship or acquaintance. Since the pet owners are regulars, I recognize them from time to time. We may not be on a first name basis but there is a familiar between all of us. It’s a beautiful Park, well kept and maintained. There are waste receptacles and poop bags readily available on every section of the park. It’s fenced in and there’s an awesome swimming pond on one section. Teeny tiny dogs have a lot to run in, medium sized dogs have a lot and really large dogs do as well. Medium and large dogs tend to mingle with each other and get along pretty well.
Occasionally you have that owner of a tiny dog who will try to bring their itty bitty dog into the big dog arena. It’s generally peaceful for the first five minutes. Then suddenly the teeny tiny dog will try to attack a huge dog and the owner of that small dog will get upset that the large dog defended itself. This is a pretty common thing. People who own small dogs know this but for some reason fall into the belief that their tiny dog will be well behaved around a huge dog. It is what it is. That’s not what this story is about.
Yesterday while at the dog park our 50 pound fixed female Labrador / Shar-Pei mix dog was attacked. Not by a tiny dog but by three dogs her size and a little bit larger. They were intact males. They were all curious about her one at a time and played with her one on one for a while. It was when they were all interested in her at the same time that things became volatile. One of these dogs was a pit, the other was a boxer, the other I have no idea.
The owners of these aggressive dogs were female. They stayed huddled around on the other side of the park, hands on hips, laughing and conversating with one another. Their dogs had been pooping everywhere and none of them bothered to stop their conversation to clean up. Their conversation continued completely uninterrupted as their dogs were beginning to growl and get aggressive with our dog. They couldn’t be bothered with something so trivial when their conversations were so important!
Now, just to be clear, this was happening literally at my feet. My dog came to me for comfort and protection because she was fearful. We were probably 25 to 30 feet away from the owners of the other dogs. They were looking in our direction but did not intervene. My husband, who had cleaned up after our dog, was walking back to the area where we were to intervene. Needless to say he was pretty angry. I had already been attempting voice commands to intervene but those aggressive dogs were not heeding my voice.
My husband tends to bring with him some amazing energy and it was obvious that he was not happy. The largest of the three ladies decided to waddle in our general direction to get her dog. She did not help or intervene though. She just stood there watching. My husband took control of our dog’s harness and led her to the gate to take her to another section of the park. Basically we were removing ourselves from the situation peacefully to protect ours. The boxer & the pit became increasingly agitated and the largest of the dogs that belonged to the largest of the women got on top of ours. Still this lady did not intervene or attempt to help. Bad etiquette indeed.
The owner of the two most aggressive dogs was smaller in stature and thought she could control them. Through verbal commands she attempted but failed. Her dogs made it through the fence with my husband and our dog. She was yelling and cussing & was obviously mad at us.
Now understand that we know it’s bad etiquette to allow another owner’s dog through the gate. We also could not control the situation and she wasn’t helping, so it was more an accident than anything. I even apologized to her when she should have been the one apologizing to me for neglecting her animals and allowing the situation to escalate.
My husband said some not-so-nice things to her as she was retrieving her dog. As she passed by me she gave me a hard stare eye to eye. The three ladies were obviously upset that their conversation had been so rudely interrupted and we continued to be the topic of their loud conversation as they pointed at us on the other side of the fence. More people with even larger dogs converged around them and began talking. While all these dog owners were conversating about how horrible we were, the original three aggressive dogs broke out in a dogfight with the other people’s dogs. I’ll admit, I had to snicker a bit.
The craziest thing was that I recognized the smaller, more petite lady who was trying to control the two most aggressive dogs. I know her. She dated my brother. I went to school with her. We are friends on Facebook. She didn’t recognize me. I didn’t care. I did not have a high opinion of her when we were young. Obviously I do not have a high opinion of her now. Isn’t it funny how the world goes around? I’ve always thought people could change, but the more I consider it, I am second guessing this idea now. And on the off chance she may ever read this article, here is a link about Dog Park Etiquette. Oh, and this is a great article too!