Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Keeping Dog Park A No-Bite Zone
Then last night came a notice from Carl, our listserv master, about an aggressive black lab that cornered a TxDoT employee on the afternoon of New Year's Eve. According to the employee, neither the dog's owner nor bystanders (other Parkers!) seemed overly concerned. If the dog were a regular at the Park, I can't believe someone would not have stepped in, which leads me to think the dog and its owners were newbies. Not cool, newbies! In response to that e-mail, two fellow Parkers mentioned to me that they separately encountered an older man walking Monday with a badly behaved, medium-sized, black dog on leash. The guy actually warned, "Ladies, you'd better put your dogs on leashes." Hmmph. Ladies? As if. Another Parker reported that the guy had trouble controlling his dog when it met other dogs. Honestly. We should put up a sign: "It is true; this is NOT a dog park. You are invited to walk here ONLY if your dog is well behaved, and you are capable of picking up its poop."
To what do we owe these recent disruptions? It seems that every year around this time, something unpleasant happens at Dog Park, and before we know it, Animal Control begins visiting on a regular basis. Part of it, don't you think, is that the cooler weather brings out more people and dogs. Also, as others have noticed, the apartments/condos across the street from Dog Park are beginning to fill up in earnest. (As one Parker told me, there always seems to be a mattress truck parked illegally out front now.) An influx of newbies always upsets the mix at Dog Park. New folks don't know the rules. Old folks aren't always so welcoming. (My Muzzy is a notorious non-welcomer. She busts a move on every new dog, which is rarely well received by either the dog or the owner. I have noticed, though, that she is less likely to be obnoxious when Roma is not with us. Also, taking her to other parks where she is not queen bee has helped give her some perspective. But, still, some day, she's gonna get hurt, and an "I told you so" will not staunch any wounds.) The lesson I try to instill in her is simple: "Good things rarely result from acting territorial, unless you are Alexander the Great, and you are not."
So lately I have tried to be more alert and cautious when meeting new dogs and their owners. In the past, I have often forgotten to bring a leash for Muzzy, but now I try keep one handy, and I make a big show of snapping it on her when she acts like a spaz. Let's be careful out there. Let's keep Park a no-bite zone. Stay safe and stay warm.