Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Drama at the Dog Park

It has been rather a long time since I posted here, and I apologize for that. I was working a temp job that drained me of energy to do anything once I got home. But that is over now, and I have tales to tell. This time it is the tale of how I was the bitch at the dog park.

Every time I tell my father something that happens at the dog park, he says "I just can't believe that all those dogs just get along together and there are no problems." For the most part, things do go very smoothly there- the dogs either play well together, or they don't interact with each other, but there are few instances of irritation or aggression. I have heard of some, but have not witnessed any.

However, last night we had an injury, not from aggression or irritation, but from overly enthusiastic play.

Boodles loves to be chased. She doesn't much like to chase other dogs, but she adores being chased. She sprints, she turns on a dime, her footwork is fancy and her speed is tremendous, but almost invariably the chase ends with Boodles on the ground, the chaser demanding homage. She surrenders, and then they hop up and do it all over again- great good fun. The pictures below show her on two different days in a typical end of chase stance with her buddy Gus, as a weimaraner looks on and Juniper pretends disinterest. Below that, Homer declares victory. Boodles lets everyone win.

But since dogs don't have hands, and they DO have teeth, sometimes unexpected events occur. Last night Boodles was playing with a couple of other dogs (not Gus or Homer) and received a bite at some point. She never yelped, never stopped playing and I wouldn't have even known she was hurt except that she was bleeding. We cleaned the wound up last night, and worked some over-the-counter topical antibiotic into it. I called the vet for advice, because I couldn't get the fur on her neck out of the way enough to see what was going on there. At one point it seemed as though there were two puncture wounds, at others, just one. Since she didn't continue to bleed, showed no signs of being in pain, and there seemed to be no crushing injuries underneath, we decided we could wait until the morning to be seen. This morning, Chuck shaved the area around her wound with his hair clippers, and we discovered it was just one small puncture. We cleaned it with hydrogen peroxide, again worked more antibiotic into it and it seems fine. We'll keep a close eye on it for infection, since puncture wounds can be dangerous. I am not terribly worried about disease-
boodles bite

there were two dogs who might have been the owner of the tooth that got Boodles, and both dogs were in good health, appeared normal and played normally. While that can't be the sole indicator, it is a requirement of the dog park that all dogs be vaccinated, and all of Boodle's shots are up-to-date.

OK, so far you have heard nothing of how I was the bitch of the dog park. Are you assuming I shrieked at the other dog owners for allowing my poor baby to be ravaged? Nope- this is how dogs play. I'm not happy about it, but it was avoidable only by staying away from the dog park. My kids got skinned knees when they played on the playground, and we washed the wounds, talked about how to avoid getting hurt in that way again, and moved on.

The bitch part was earlier- when I arrived, there were some people in the large dog area with two small children. I am guessing 4 and 5, or 5 and 6, in that range. I reminded them that the rules of the park are that children under 10 should not come in. After another dog park user suggested that one of their dogs was not playing well with the others, the people packed up and left. I felt terribly officious, and considered not saying anything. I mean, after all these people had big dogs, and one must assume the children live with them. However, the rules exist for their safety as well as the safety and well-being of other park patrons. Some of these dogs are very large- Juniper weighs 80 pounds, Boodles is a slim 68, but runs like a juggernaut. Others are even larger. They don't always pay attention to where people are standing as they run. I would hate to think of these kids being in the path of the chase, and getting knocked down, perhaps run over. And what about that errant tooth that gave Boodles her wound? It drew blood through her very thick fur- how quickly would it puncture skin?

I've never been one to blindly follow rules, and I tend to question authority to an uncomfortable degree. But I would think this would just be common sense- don't bring small children around a lot of loose, strange dogs playing together. And I guess I will continue to be a bitch about stuff like this. I don't want children to be hurt. Our dog park is an amazing resource, and I don't want to lose it over an avoidable incident.

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