At the dog park

'Dog Park' by Donna ColemanI always wonder what dogs think when they’re thrown into a situation filled with other dogs.

For instance: today we took Becket to the dog park. Once there, he encountered at least 15-20 other dogs, all running around in circles, sniffing each other’s privates and drinking each other’s saliva. Becket would prance from dog to dog, encountering not just a new animal, but an entire cacophony of smells – hundreds of pieces of that dog’s environment, clashing together in disharmony.

At times, he would break out into a run in order to follow a group of dogs. Other times, he would completely ignore the same dogs, instead focusing on a section of fence line or a specific spot in the grass. When we wanted him to run, he would stand and sniff. When we wanted him to stay or come, he would barrel off. He was in his own world.

At the dog park, you’re not in human territory anymore. Human rules don’t hold up. With the thousands of scents left by former dogs, it could only be doggy paradise.

No one is in charge at the dog park. No dog is more important than the others. Such is the benefit of a dog park – everyone is on equal footing. Each human takes care of everyone else’s dogs.

Every dog is friendly. Scuffles are laughed off, with even the dogs seemingly shaking it off and retreating to another new friend. People who wouldn’t normally talk are amazingly latched together, all by virtue of a common thread – dogs, and the love for them.

What do dogs think when they meet not just one new friend, but a dozen? How does the overabundance of scents affect their noses? Are they having fun? Or are they just over-stimulated enough to become docile?

The only thing I’m sure of is that Becket seemed to smile the entire time.

This was lovingly handwritten on June 8th, 2007