Lessons Learned from the Dog Park

My family bonds over our animals. Growing up, we were surrounded by horses, donkeys, gerbils, hamsters, chickens, dogs, cats, ferrets, bunnies, fish, etc. My older sister had a hamster named Cinnamon that lived a more luxurious life than she did. My brother got in a fight with my step-mom because she accused his cats (or, as we call them, his “titties”) of pooping on some of her new jacket.

A popular activity for my family is to take our dogs to the dog park. It is quite an adventure as we walk around, chit-chat, and our herd runs around us.

Literally, we have a herd.

My older sister has Daisy (a Puggle) and Molly (a Shih Zsu). These two dogs could not be the most dysfunctional pair, but also best friends. Molly is a princess. She loves attention from men and will run across the entire dog park to be petted by a man. Daisy is really overweight, tattles on other dogs who get in trouble, and is stubborn (she loves finding people’s half-eaten hamburgers on the ground and eating them. One time, she sniffed out a piece of bread that was positioned under someone’s car fender?).

My younger sister has Lexi (a German Shepherd, whom she wanted to name “Rex”, but since she was a girl, Lex had to do) and Annie (a Blue Heeler/Border Collie mix). These two are best friends and often get themselves in trouble when they run away. We will often find Annie doing her instinctual job, herding us as we walk.

My mom owns Max (a Saint Bernard), who crawled out on the roof this summer and can be found chasing dirt clods?, and Spencer (some black dog), who is often forgotten about and abused by Max’s clumsiness.

Here are a few lessons I have learned from going to the dog park:

  1. There are three kinds of people in this world: those who pick up and throw away their dog’s poop, those who pretend they don’t see their dog pooping, and those who pick up their dog’s poop and leave it by a fence. We are personally the kind of people who pick up and throw away our dog’s poop (unless, of course, they go in an inconspicuous place that is highly unlikely for someone to step in). To be honest, those who blatantly pretend not to see their dog poop are probably more moralistic citizens, because at least the poop has a chance to decompose and return nutrients to the soil; those who leave it in a bag are just plain pollutin’.
  2. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow: Today, this obviously really horny dog kept trying to hump this other dog and the owner kept shooing the horny dog away. The dogs would run a few feet, the dog would try to hump again, and the owner would get mad. But, sometimes you just have to let it go. Dogs are animals, instinctual, and don’t really have any self-esteem issues of public judgment. They don’t really care; if they want to hump, they are going to hump.
  3. Take accountability for YOUR dog’s actions: Our dogs are very friendly and will run around, trying to play with other dogs. Sometimes, big, mean dogs who need to assert their dominance will get in our dog’s face and our dog will start snarling. The owners of the other dog will often get mad at us for OUR dog being mean to their dog, but haven’t they ever considered that perhaps THEIR dog started the fight? (This is very true in teaching as well—“my kid can never do any harm”).

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