Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dog Park: Visit 1

Socializing with other dogs is not one of Winnie’s strong suits. I took her to the dog park a number of times when she first joined the family, and then I found her the perfect puppy play mate…her bestie, Gavin (Shout out, Gavin! We miss you!). Winnie and Gavin would frolic for hours on end, and Gavin was always willing to let Winnie call the shots. Gavin moved away some time ago and Winnie has been woefully under-socialized ever since.

There is only so much Sharona can do. She’s an old lady and needs a lot less play time than Winnie does. Even though Winnie loves and respects (it’s a sliding scale) Sharona, Winnie has recently been behaving poorly when we meet other dogs out on her walks. We live in a nice neighborhood and I feel an obligation not to have the crazy annoying dog that everyone crosses the street to avoid, so it’s back to the dog park to find Winnie some doggie friends.

Our first foray to the dog park did not garner the desired outcome. Winnie was quite anxious, Winnie was not even keen to get out of the truck. Andy and I had to practically drag her into the fenced in area of the park.

Within minutes, Winnie had barked at (okay, she’s tiny and some folks may describe this as a “yip”) and chased a big dog away for the audacity to sniff her butt before she was acclimated to her surroundings. To be fair, she did need a little time to adjust. Winnie is a city dog and off leash time is very limited, she was completely unsure of what to do with herself, and stuck very close by, like really close (she kept trying to jump into my lap as Andy and I sat on a bench).

It was clear after a forced stroll around the park, that she had no interest in the labs, border collies or various mixed breeds that were 3 to 4 times her size. Luckily, this park has a different area just for small dogs and we spied a group in the small dog area and headed over there to see if some friends could be made.
Are we done here?
Sorry to say, Winnie was not having any of it. She went over to a nearby, unoccupied area, and lay down, where she remained, looking ever so suspiciously at the other dogs.  Andy and I had some great friendly conversations with the other small dog parents. We even played with the other doggies; which was met with some jealous, reproachful looks from you know who. Eventually, Winnie did come over and hung around our feet, but she refused to engage in anything more than a butt sniff or two with any of the dogs.

The most unusual part of the dog park visit: Winnie was drooling like a Drooly Mcdroolersons the whole time. The drooling was obviously caused by her anxiety and it was very unbecoming. It certainly reinforces my commitment to take her to the park more, so that she can socialize and not feel so nervous outside of her own home. My hope is that she will begin to relax and start making some friends as she gets used to the park.

Stay tuned for more reports on trips to the dog park.

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