Saturday afternoon Sabu and I went to the dog park on the way to the Studio, as we do four or five days a week. We’ve never had a problem – people are respectful and the dogs tend to work things out themselves while the people talk.
This particular park has separate areas for large dogs and small dogs. Sometimes people take puppies or very shy dogs into the small dog side so they can play without getting hurt. It sometimes gets very rough on the big dog side of the park, but we all understand that dogs like to play and wrestle and so far I haven’t seen anyone hurt.
Sabu, being Alpha, is often in the middle of a confrontation, breaking it up, maintaining order. Yeah, surprised the hell out of me the first time I saw it, but there ya go – she will have no fighting in her pack and has done some pretty strange things during our dog park adventures.
Sabu and I went through the first gate and into the little holding area. I took her leash off and opened the second gate as an older couple (and by older I just mean older than me – I have very little notion of age other than older than me, younger than me and “children” which has come to include anyone under 25, much to my dismay.) with a large Labrador-looking dog came in through the first gate.
Dog park etiquette dictates that you don’t bring your dog into the holding area or open the first gate until the dog before you has exited the second gate and it’s been closed, letting dog and human into the alley that leads to the park proper. Dogs can fight if they’re confined together before they get to know each other and most dogs are already over excited just being at the park – no need to add fuel to the fire, right?
They followed too closely and Sabu doubled back to see if they would be lax at the gate, letting her escape for a romp in the pond. I caught her and dragged her back.
“Is your dog nice?” the woman asked.
“Yes, she’s nice, but she’s a gate pusher. I’ll just hold her until you get in so she doesn’t knock you over.”
They came in, closed the gate and I let Sabu go, turning my back and calling for her to move out into the main part of the park.
The man was holding the leash and not taking it off the dog – a real no-no at the dog park as dogs on leashes can be very defensive towards dogs not on leashes. You’re supposed to take the leash off in the holding area so the dog enters the park with no leash, thereby minimizing confrontations – when Sabu doubled back again to have a sniff at the new dog. Because she’s Alpha, she bumped him on the shoulder to let him know what was what and he stumbled, causing the woman to start shrieking at me.
My back was partly turned, but as soon as I realized Sabu wasn’t at my side I whirled around and tried to grab her. She was dodging around, not at all sure what the yelling was about but not willing to move away from this new dog – he was now part of her pack and if the shrieking woman wouldn’t shut up, well, something was about to Get Done about the situation.*
I leaned down to get a grip on Sabu’s harness, noticing the woman’s feet and getting distracted. She was wearing flip flops and her feet were all twisted up. A bunch of things ran through my head and I finally settled upon “ballet dancer” as an explanation and tuned in to what she was saying. I mean, Sabu hadn’t done anything wrong and I was confused about what the woman was so upset about.
“We just spent $6000 on surgeries for this dog! We saved his life and now he could be hurt again! He’s only just been cleared to go out on a leash and now this! Get your dog under control!” and on and on in this vein at high volume.
I finally got a good grip on Sabu and looked the woman in the face.
“I’m sorry! You do realize this is an off-leash park?”
“Of course!” she snapped back at me. “It’s just that he hasn’t seen other dogs in so long we thought it would be good for him to come here but I can see that no one keeps their dogs under control and I spent all this money blah, blah, blah…”
That set me off. “You can’t expect to bring a dog to an off-leash dog park and not let it be a dog. All the other dogs here are off leash. All of the dogs are big dogs. If your dog is recovering from an injury you should not have brought it here.”
I was fuming and not about to let this entitled bitch make me feel bad about my dog being a dog.
I mean, really?!? Often the pack running in the park will bomb down the alley and crowd the gate when a new dog comes in – it’s all part of the Dog Park Experience. This woman was out of her mind bringing her injured dog inside the park.
They finally just walked it around the outside of the fence, where it got to sniff noses through the fence, which is what they should have done in the first place!
Stoopid people! Really soured the rest of my day.
* Sabu allows a certain amount of growling and barking when she’s at the park, but if a dog sounds like it’s being hurt or is squealing with fear, Sabu is right over there, sorting out who the problem dog is (not the one making the fear noises) and herding it away from its victim. It’s amazing to see. If two or more dogs are playing and they get too loud, either growling or barking, Sabu races over to be sure no one is getting hurt and if one dog is being too rough, in Sabu’s opinion, it will be corrected, severely if need be, before being allowed to continue playing.
One day there was a smaller intact male dog who was humping every other dog. I mean, he was really trying with everything that moved. This caused the other dogs to start hopping around to avoid him while still playing their game. Sabu took one look at the the situation, ran over and herded that horny little shit away from the other dogs. She then grabbed him in the middle of his back and repeatedly pushed him down onto the ground until he submitted to her. There would be no more humping while Sabu was on duty. Little Dog was not hurt and his owner was not unhappy about Sabu’s discipline (thankfully) and peace once again reigned.