Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dog park altercations

The local dog park (the one that we are fighting to save in our neighbourhood), is a great place to be on a sunny Saturday, the morning after we got dumped on with 10-15 cm of snow. Especially at 9:00 a.m., which appears to be a peak hour. All bundled up to guard ourselves against the -30 windchill, we arrived this morning with the Beast in toe to find dogs, dogs and more dogs bounding along in the snow, chasing balls and other squeaky toys, and giving each other snowy face washes.

And so hubby and I played along, chasing the Beast around in circles, throwing his ball, play bowing and rolling around in the snow with him and his pals. It made me feel like a kid again.

All was going super well. All the dogs were getting along. The kids were having fun. The adults were shivering but smiling. The Beast was behaving like a prince. Picture perfect dog park snowy day.

When all of a sudden, the Beast's pal Jengo bolted off across the park towards a woman who was walking her dog down the street. His owner tried calling him back, but it was too late. He had already spotted the leashed-up dog and was proceeding to mount her. The next thing I knew, the woman was screaming, swearing (words that are too profane to put in writing) and venomously insulting both Jengo and his owner. Sensing the tension and the excitement, the rest of the dogs began to rush off towards the unfolding scene, making the woman swear even more profusely and threaten to call the city by-law officer to have all of our dogs "arrested" and put in the pound (even though we were all in the off-leash park). This of course caused all the humans in the dog park to rush towards the scene to extricate their dogs, which caused even more tension and more excitement, which caused all the dogs to start barking, which agitated all of the humans, which agitated the woman, which made her swear even more, which agitated her dog, which caused Jengo to get even more excited, which agitated his human, which agitated the other humans, which got the dogs all worked up, which got the humans all worked up, which caused the dogs to ignore the humans as the humans panicked more and more, which....

Well, you get the picture. This went on for no more than 3 minutes (although it felt like much longer), the time it took Jengo's owner to catch him and haul him away, which gave everyone else a chance to leash up their own dogs so that they could also take their leave, while the woman at the centre of the debacle continued walking down the street swearing like a sailor at the top of her lungs.

And the whole time, the Beast sat quietly at my side.

No seriously. I know it's hard to believe, but he sat by my side the whole time. He was the only dog that was behaved through this little ordeal.

Now, can I just tell you how good it felt to know that there was an altercation at the dog park that (a) my dog didn't start, (b) my dog didn't take part in; and (c) my dog didn't somehow make worse with his frenetic behaviour? Because it felt damn good. Like holy shit good!

And then it hit me. The Beast stayed calm and well-behaved because we stayed calm. While everyone else was panicking, hubby and I calmly reached out for the Beast, got him in a sit and stay, and didn't get agitated alongside everyone else. We stayed in control.

Holy shit! We're becoming calm and assertive pack leaders!!!

I'm probably getting a little too far ahead of myself. I'll need to navigate a few more dog park altercations before I can earn that title... But I'm going to savour this morning's little victory...