We were at one of the local parks yesterday walking our dogs on their leashes. We visit one of the many parks near our house every afternoon. It provides our dogs the mental and physical stimulation they need to keep them healthy. As a matter of fact, it does the same things for us. This is a great excuse to soak up some rays, take a “fresh air” break, and forget about work and any other challenges going on during the day.
This particular park has a lot to offer the dogs and us. There are some nicely paved walk paths, an open field to explore, a playground area with sand and mulch, two separate fenced dog parks (one for large dogs and one for smaller dogs), and a wilderness walk path that winds through the woods and near the creek where a lot of people take their larger dogs to play and swim. There are more than enough opportunities to get some exercise and sniff the surroundings.
While at the park, we always make sure our dogs are on leash. First of all, it’s the law in our county to keep your dogs on leash, except in areas designated specifically for dogs. Second, you never know when you’re going to encounter a person or another dog who is not overly comfortable with you or your dogs. Some dogs are just not that social. Third, you never know when something is going to distract your dog and cause them to unexpectedly run away. This particular park is especially known for the wild deer that inhabit the woods. We’ve been lucky enough to see them grazing in the open fields on occasion. It would be very easy for a dog to want to run off after the deer and then find themselves in trouble.
On this particular day, we were finishing our walk and heading back to the car. As we approached the parking lot, we noticed a bright red Cadillac Escalade pulling into a parking spot. Once parked, a very fit, mid-thirties, blonde-haired woman got out of the vehicle in her full running gear. She was wearing a bright pink top, pink shorts and black runner’s pants. She began running in our direction, making her way back to the wilderness walk path. She stopped for a moment, turned toward her sports utility vehicle and yelled “BERNIE.”
Suddenly, out of nowhere a very large yellow Labrador retriever came bounding in our direction. He was one of the biggest Labs I’ve ever seen. He must have been pushing close to 100 pounds in weight. He had a collar on but, of course, no leash. Totally disregarding the calls of his human companion, he was making his way towards us. She smiled and yelled in our direction, “Don’t worry. He’s very friendly!” Which I promptly yelled, “Well, my dogs aren’t!” The smile quickly left her face as she rushed over to grab her dog by the collar. She then proceeded to tug and pull on her dog until everyone was a safe distance away from one another.
Neither of my dogs is mean. They are very sweet and love to give kisses whenever possible. However, Dusty weighs a mere eight pounds. One wrong move, playful or not, from an unknown 100-pound dog could have caused her real harm. My dog Kramer has only been with us a couple of months. He had never seen a park until we adopted him and started taking him every day. It’s also unclear how much exposure he has had to other dogs. He is very gentle with Dusty but is very unsure and growls at other dogs. Of course, this is something we are working on with him. However, anyone that’s introduced new dogs to each other will tell you that these types of introductions need to be done gradually and in a controlled manner.
So, my advice is to not assume that every dog is friendly just because you believe your dog is. Also, keeping your dogs on leash while in public will ensure their safety as well as ensure the safety of other dogs and people they may encounter. If you want to let them off leash, take them to a secure area marked for dogs. This will make everyone happy.
When outside, do you always leash your dog? Do you obey the posted signs at your local parks? Share your stories and pictures in the comments!
About the author: Tim Link is an all American guy, loves to rock out to Queen while consuming pizza and Pinot Noir, prefers to associate with open minded people who love all critters, considered to be the literal voice for all animals –- author, writer, radio host, Reiki Master, animal communicator and consultant. Visit him at www.wagging-tales.com.
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