Polly LOVES going to the dog park. I work at home most days, so she has the power to bug me endlessly about it. Starting at about noon, she gets The Look. She’ll lay down near my desk, and watch me expectantly. Sometimes she makes a sad little growl/whine in her throat. Whenever I get up from my desk, Polly is right there on top of me, her body language saying “ARE WE GOING? WE’RE GOING? CAN WE GO NOW?” I feel bad for her. What else has she got to do around here but look forward to going to the dog park? A lot of days I go earlier than planned, just so Polly will quit nagging me. When I head downstairs to get her leash, she knows that YES YES THIS IS IT WE’RE GOING WE’RE REALLY GOING YAY!!! and we’re in danger of Polly tripping me, such is her excitement. It’s so easy to please a dog.
It’s more work than you’d think. Polly is a good-natured dog, very friendly. She introduces herself to just about every dog and human she comes in contact with. But if some other dog gets too aggressive with her, her attitude can turn ugly in a big hurry. She’s never bitten anybody, or been bitten herself, but there have been many times when I thought such a thing was seconds away. Sometimes she lets me know she’s had enough by running up to me, and I’ll dutifully put myself between her and the other dog. Sometimes she’s not that sensible, and I have to drag her out of a dogpile.
I can tell as clear as day when Polly is getting unhappy. Her movements become clipped and choppy. She puts her tail between her legs. She stands at a weird angle with respect to the other dog, not looking him in the eye because that’s aggressive, but looking like she wants to. That’s my cue to intervene.
Of course, it’s better when I don’t have to. Polly’s best friend at the dog park is a Weimaraner named Ushi. Those two would wrestle for hours, if I could stand around that long. Ushi acts like a big cat, coming after Polly with her front paws, using them like they were hands. Polly runs faster, but Ushi is more limber. I’ve gotten to be friends with Ushi’s owner, Jess. I feel like I know that girl pretty well now.
There are a couple of other dogs Polly will almost always wrestle with, if we see them. Polly really likes puppies for some reason. She’s always very sweet and gentle with young dogs that are smaller than her. Polly feels threatened by dogs bigger than her, she tends to avoid them.
I don’t know what we’ll do when the weather gets cold again. Polly acts like she’s going to die on days when we don’t get to go. I hope next winter will be mild, like the ones we usually get around here.