Side-Eye at the Dog Park

Dog-Fight-domestic-animals-4595960-500-375Two days ago Schatzi got into a scrap at the dog park. There were eight or nine balls on the grass, but Schatzi took a shine to one in particular, a thick rubber orange job about the size of a tennis ball. She’s going blind but still has some vision, and I suspect she could see this one more clearly than the others. The orange ball, though, had already been claimed by another dog, and that dog was determined to defend it.

The other dog lay down on its belly with the orange ball between its front paws. Schatzi stood face to face with it, the hair on her shoulders and rump beginning to rise, a low growl coming from her throat. The other dog began to bristle and growl as well. The other dog’s owner decided to defuse the situation by taking the ball away. He reached between them for the ball, and the fight was on.

It lasted only a second, but such yelping and barking! Most of which was coming from the other dog owners! The man who’d reached for the ball dove into the furball and pulled his dog away. I wound up being the one to pick up the ball, which I hid in a nearby tree. Neither dog was harmed.

Afterward, with no ball to fight over, Schatzi and her opponent chilled, and the other dogs, who’d gathered round to watch the fun, went back to chasing one another around the park. The humans gradually settled down, except for the other dog’s owner, who fussily harnessed and leashed his dog and left. I began to feel a certain chill in the air. The other owners were giving me side-eye, as if they thought Schatzi and I were to blame for the ruckus. So we stayed. And after a while I plucked the orange ball from the tree and tossed it to Schatzi, who was delighted to find it again.

Did I mention our dog park has two sides, with separate gates and fences, one for small dogs and one for large dogs? And that Schatzi and I were in the small dog side? With us in the small dog side were six or seven people and a dozen dogs, mostly small breeds but not all. Mixed in were some special snowflakes … a full-sized boxer, a lab, and a golden retriever, big dogs who, their owners will swear if you confront them, would never harm a flea (until they do), are intimidated by other big dogs, and how dare you object to my breaking the rules because my dog is special?

The dog Schatzi fought with? It was the golden retriever, an animal ten times Schatzi’s size. That had no fucking business being in the small dog enclosure. Whose owner is a dog park douchebag. Give me side-eye for being in the small dog side of the park with my miniature dachshund? Oh yeah? Wanna fight?

This blog really has gone to the dogs lately, hasn’t it?

© 2015, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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2 thoughts on “Side-Eye at the Dog Park

  • When we’ve taken puppy training classes at the Marin Humane Society they gave us a flier with the pros and cons of dog parks, there were no pros.

    In general there are two problems, the first is that different breeds and even different dogs have different play styles and that can cause problems. The second problem, the greater one in my opinion, is that owners tend to be more interested in what they and the other owners are doing than in their dogs. Sure dogs get to socialize and that’s great until it isn’t and someone has an injured hound and a vet bill.

  • I’m pretty much an outsider at our dog park, certainly not a regular. The regulars have a sort of sewing circle thing going. Generally the dogs get along, and if there aren’t any pit bulls in evidence, I’ll even take the girls into the big dog side once in a while. I didn’t say so in the post, but I think another reason for the side-eye might have been that the golden’s owner was one of the regulars, and my dogs and I aren’t.

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