cats, Dogs with Issues, Fanny

Dog Park By Reservation Only

Ever since moving here, I’ve been tracking the activity at the local dog park. It’s a great park. Two big areas that have built-in agilty equipment, plus shade and water and benches to sit on.

It’s a busy place.

And that’s the problem.

My three dogs all have issues with busy places. Gracie will bark at people and not tolerate the overtures of strange dogs, especially young friendly ones.

Fanny, on the other hand, would LOVE to play with all the dogs but her style of place is more Greco-Roman wrestling than chase or tug. Some most dogs don’t appreciate that about her.

And Otis? My lover-boy has eyes only for humans. Other dogs, he assumes are all threats to his life and reacts as such. If he has the opportunity to meet them in a quieter way – like on a walk together—he makes fast friends and then is the perfect playmate. Enjoying chase, tackle, and tug in equal measure.

But you see my predicament when it comes to a dog park. Fanny must be managed, Otis must be restrained, and Gracie must be protected. All of which is impossible if there is even one other dog at the park (even on the other side of the fence, Otis and Gracie understand the apparent threat).

There is a nice walking trail (the high school’s cross country course) to walk at the park, so if we arrive and discover it occupied, then we make for the trail.

This morning, however, (9:30 on a Friday, make note) we had the place to ourselves. Fanny got plenty of ball chasing and frisbee catching in.

And in between the dogs romped and wrestled. And then raced through the tunnel, over the A-frame, and along the dog walk before working on ‘WAIT!’ on the table and leaping through the rings.

There is a small trail of round stools at varying heights, so I set about teaching Otis (Fanny was busy devouring a tennis ball) to put his paws on the stools. I imagine they are meant for dogs to sit on, but he would be hard-pressed to balance his big gangly self on the stools.

Dog people have strong feelings one way or the other about dog parks. I get that. With my dog Frankie, we loved to visit dog parks – he could play with any dog, any day. I thought having one nearby would be a great thing—until I watched Fanny roll a Shih tzu, Otis erupt at another lab-mix, and Gracie snarl at a friendly hound.

Now, I get it. Too many opportunities for things to go sideways. And not every person knows how to safely manage their dog. Also, it’s pretty clear that not everyone comes to the dog park to play with their dogs. Plenty of people seem to come to the dog park to talk with other people—in person or on their cell phones.

So we plan to be flexible every time we go and spend a lot of time on the cross county course. But I do fantasize about a dog park that would be by reservation only. That would be perfect.

For now, we enjoy it when we can.

If you’ve been keeping score, you’ll want to know that my foster kittens, Bonnie and Clyde, were spayed/neutered and have left the building. But that is only to go to another building (Petsmart in Winchester). Cat fostering continues to be an entirely new experience for me. Apparently, being showcased at Petsmart means they’ll have a new home in no time. Happy for these two cuties and hoping for the best!

Until Each One Has a Home,


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9 thoughts on “Dog Park By Reservation Only”

      1. Having adopted a dog since the surge in popularity of dog parks, I have found myself championing their existence, coming from a new housing area where gardens have become distant memories, a large and fenced dog park means my Kelpie cross can properly stretch his legs like he is built to do. Luckily, we adopted a puppy so have been able to socialise him at the dog park since he was fully vaccinated, there have been no major incidents and he just turned 1. With all the stories I have heard about dog parks I sometimes wonder if we have just been lucky. I have another suggestion for park designers, consider section within for the dogs that need a little space. The park we frequent has a sectioned off area inside, the section in the main park and has a smaller selection of the agility equipment and is just as fun. If someone enters the park with their dog wearing a signal that it is nervous, people will hold their dogs back and let them into the safety of the segregated area. This means they get to enjoy freedom of a fenced dog park without the stress, and the owners can still participate in dog park life. The other benefit of the segregated area means a nervous or unsocialised dog can get used to being near other dogs safely. I often see them up at the fence enjoying a sniff of another dog, without their usual fears.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow, that’s the nicest dog park I’ve ever seen. The one near my house is strictly a fenced gravel area with no trees. It’s too depressing for me to even consider going there. Luckily there are enough sidewalks to sniff and check out as a better alternative. Enjoy it when you are able. Your former foster kitties should have no trouble finding new homes. They’re pretty doggone cute.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it’s a pretty nice place. There was a dog park in our town in PA, but it was mostly muddy and there were rarely other dogs there, plus no equipment. This is much better, I just wish my dogs were a little more well-adjusted. Ah, well, we’ll get there eventually I hope.

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  2. We have a large dog park near us (although not as nice as yours!). Our first dog, Pupper, was anti-social, but loved to fetch. I ended up taking her down to the park very early (6 a.m.) before work. Only a handful of hard-core regulars were there at that time, so Pupper got used to the other dogs, and everyone was tolerant of her slips (she snarked and lunged, but didn’t make contact)
    Mr. B is a lot more dog-tolerant, and could go in the late afternoon/evening, when it was the Wild West; amped up dogs and tired owners. But we still do the sunrise meeting. Different people, but the same faces every day. The younger, more energetic dogs come later around 7:30/8:00, and the dog walkers start bringing multiples in around noon-two p.m.
    I love our crew of regulars. The dogs now range from middle-aged to elderly; none are terribly playful, but all are dog-tolerant, and know to either tell off a youngster or turn away from a troublemaker.

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    1. I’m hopeful we can find a few regular friends eventually. Fanny is always more focused on chasing balls/frisbee than the other dogs, but Otis just loses his mind. This is a whole community of dog people I never knew existed – hopefully, we’ll find a way to fit in as you have.


  3. I love the idea of reservations at a dog park! The idea of dog parks is good, I think, but I tend to avoid them for the reasons you mentioned: too many people bring dogs there that really don’t do well in groups. And that doesn’t always end well for the other dogs involved. But when you have a truly social dog in a group of other social dogs, they can be fun. Meanwhile, why NOT make a dog park that takes reservations? If people want to play with multiple dogs, they can make reservations together. If not, you can reserve your spot, and mark the reservation as “no other dogs allowed.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m waiting for someone to create this new phenomenon! But a reader did mention a site called where people actually rent out their yards as private dog parks. I found one about 30 minutes from me for $5/hour and I might actually try it!

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