Friday, July 27, 2012

we definitely need to raise doggy play-style awareness in this town; perhaps a petition drive is in order

Yesterday in the dog park was so Portland I expected Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein to jump out from behind a tree.  As I opened the gate to the dog park in Wallace Park in Northwest, I noticed a sign that read something to the effect of, "Please Communicate With Other Owners and Make Sure They Are Comfortable With Your Dog's Play Style."

That struck me as odd, but I didn't worry about it much.  It certainly wasn't an issue for Clyde (the elder beagle). He usually just wanders around by himself sniffing things, but Austin is more social.  Austin is still very puppyish-- or perhaps, at this point, more of a teenager. At any rate, he wants to play with all the other dogs. Usually this takes the form of running around at extremely high rates of speed.  He did a little of that, in a pack with three or four other dogs, and I guess at some point he decided that if that many dogs were running together, they must be chasing something.  So he started baying.

At that point one of the other dogs, a chocolate lab, did a play bow and started trying to wrestle with Austin. Austin was up for it and jumped right in, growling and showing his teeth, but I didn't worry about it because that's how dogs play, right? Apparently the chocolate lab's owner didn't think so, because he started yelling-- the dog's name was Dolce-- "Dolce! Dolce! DOL-ce!" Then he started chasing them, trying to get in between them and trying to grab Dolce.

Clearly Dolce's dad was not comfortable with this play style, so I grabbed Austin, told him that Dolce (Dolce's owner, really) did not want to play and tried to redirect Austin toward other dogs. He was having none of it.  As soon as I let him go, he ran back to Dolce, prompting another round of "Dolce! Dolce! DOL-ce!" from Dolce's dad. The only solution was to put Austin back on his leash, which I did. "I'm not being paranoid," Dolce's dad told me.  "I just don't want anyone to get hurt."

At that point another guy came in with a giant white fluffy Alaskan something-or-other. Austin seemed very interested and-- still on his leash-- started sniffing at the giant white dog. The white dog's owner looked panicked. "Why is he on a leash?" he wanted to know, and literally jumped in front of his dog.  "Is he vicious?"

No, no, I assured him, and to prove it let Austin off the leash since he seemed more interested in the white dog than Dolce at this point, anyway.  The two immediately started running around in circles, and were soon joined by-- of course-- Dolce.  Now they were just running, but apparently Dolce's dad wasn't comfortable with that play style, either, because he started chasing the dogs until he looked like he was about to have a heart attack, all the while screaming, "Dolce! Dolce! DOL-ce!" 

The giant white fluffy Alaskan something-or-other's dad seemed disinclined to put his dog on a leash, so we just let them go, three dogs running around in circles chased by a fiftyish balding man under a canopy of trees in a Portland summer.

1 comment:

  1. Dolce's owner actually seems like a pretty familiar type from the Amarillo dog park.


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Upside Down on Mars by Barry J. Cochran is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.