I take Sienna to University Lake, one of the dog parks in Anchorage, almost every night. It's great because it's a place where dogs can truly be dogs and can swim, run, chase, fetch, wrestle, and play with logs of dogs and their humans. However, tonight seemed remarkable for a wide variety of reasons.
The first reason happened early on in the venture. We made it around to her favorite beach by the water and I started throwing sticks and tennis balls for her. By this time Sienna had thoroughly established that she was going to be a Turdbucket today, but I figured that just getting her exhausted would deplete her reserve stash of turdiness. But no, she was not listening and running everywhere and harassing other dogs that were giving her very clear I Don't Want To Play With A Puppy And Yes, That Means You signals and displaying the various accoutrements of Turdbucketness. This got to be even worse when she hit the puppy jackpot and happened across a group of about three young puppies. Now, Sienna loves other puppies because she figures they will have similar desires to play, but unfortunately, at five months she is already a monster puppy and is even way too much for other dogs that are a few months older than her. She just plays too rough with them. So I had to break up about twenty potential Puppy Incidents, apologizing profusely to the owners and trying to explain how Sienna is feeling more Turdbucketish than usual.
When I had had about EEE-NOUGH (yes, two very distinct syllables), my saviors arrive: Sienna's favorite friend Riley and her two doggie housemates Benji and Bart. Riley is a black Lab, about a month older than Sienna, and the same size, and they will wear themselves completely out wrestling. This is the perfect solution to the puppy problem, so I draw Sienna's attention to her furry friends and soon they are frolicking like two puppies that haven't seen each other in ages. You've gotta love that Lab enthusiasm!
The playing migrates to dry land and they are chasing balls, frisbees, and other dogs (what could be better?), having a great time, when a man on a bike with a huge Husky on a leash enter the scene. Before I have any inkling of what is happening, ten-pound Benji trots by the Husky and it goes off like a time bomb and jumps on him, growling and snarling. Benji is screaming like any tiny dog that has been assaulted by a something at least fourteen times heavier than it and the owner runs over screaming and rescues him from the aggressive dog. About fifteen seconds after the rescue it occurs to the man on the bike to scold his dog and then he says not a word to anyone else, not even an apology to my sobbing friend, and leaves. Had I been in my right mind I would have said something to the guy, but during the attack I had been totally frozen to the spot, horrified, my hand barely covering my gaping mouth. I have never seen anything like that -- the dog was totally unprovoked, and I have never seen such an irresponsible owner at the park before. Later I remembered that I had seen him last week with the dog and complimented him on the beautiful animal (it really is a magnificent -- if scary -- Husky) and I could tell in his very delayed response and the way he spoke that he has, at the very least, some sort of social issues. If I ever see him there again I'm going to have to do something to get more information on him.
Luckily, the night wasn't ruined. Benji, Riley, and Bar left shortly thereafter, but I remained in the field because the dangerous dog had departed and a delightful yellow Lab that gave me a very good idea of what Sienna will look like when she's older had arrived. They were playing and frolicking and having a great time, and while they were oblivious to anything outside of their sphere of dogginess another great dog arrived on the scene. She is an Australian Shepard that I was having a blast throwing the ball for because someone had taught her the greatest trick ever: when you said "roll it!" she would crouch down with her front paws together and perfectly even with each other, put the ball on top of her paws, and then use her nose to roll the ball to you. This was both awesome and cute on its own, but when she looked at you with those big blue eyes of her you felt as though you would be committing a grave and evil sin if you didn't throw the ball for her immediately. Naturally, I ended up throwing the ball for her until the two Labs had totally exhausted each other (and if you've ever known a Lab puppy, you know how seemingly impossible that prospect is!) and the Shepard's owner had to go.
Did I say that Sienna was totally exhausted? I misspoke. I swear, perpetual motion machines have already been invented, and they are Lab puppies at dog parks. We went back to her favorite beach since it looked like there were more dogs playing there now, and when I was about two hundred yards away I realized what my brain had been trying to tune out for, oh, about five minutes: the ever-insistent yap of Poopsie. No, I am not making that up. The dog's name is Poopsie. I hate Poopsie. She's basically a miniature Jack Russell and barks incessantly. She's got a total Napoleon complex. It takes a lot for me to say that I don't like a dog, but I really loathe not only Poopsie, but her owner too. He makes no effort whatsoever to make her shut up. I'm definitely going to print out the part about "Owners should control excessive barking" on the Dog Park Rules page.
Come to think of it though, I've never met a Jack Russell Terrier that I didn't loathe. The one I met when I first started going to the dog park would try to hump Sienna incessantly even though she was already bigger than him when she was two months old. The second, Jester, runs amok, jumps on everyone, and is really, really obnoxious. Poopsie is the third and her doggie brother, Itchy, harasses bigger dogs, jumps up on people, and also runs amok. Not looking like this breed has a good track record, or maybe their owners all really suck. Someone needs to tell those dogs that they are tiny and they need to come to terms with that and leave other dogs the fuck alone. Stupid Jacks.
Some more full-grown Lab-sized dogs arrived on the scene shortly after me, which meant that they could run around like crazy with each other and Sienna and play Chase Me Chase Me without bothering anyone else, so that was good -- there's no way those insecure Jacks could keep up with them. Even better, a really big stick washed up on shore so I got to throw that for Sienna a bunch to try and seal the tiredness deal. Right now, I'm pretty damn sure it worked because she is completely conked out at my feet as I write this.
I hate to be telling bad stories the first time I write about the dog park, but if it was ever like that on a regular basis I wouldn't take her there every day. It's definitely one of her favorite places, and it's great for her to meet other dogs and get socialized properly. It's just that once in a blue moon you have a bad or scary experience, just like with anything else.
Mission: Exhaust the Puppy
Measure of Effectiveness: Said puppy flops around uselessly until bedtime arrives
Assessment: Mission Accomplished!