It turns out that I’m not exactly a paragon of Doggie Mama Perfection. I mean, I try—lord knows, I try—but, well, sometimes my optimism vastly outweighs reality. (For those who are new or who have spotty memories, I present supporting exhibits A and B as evidence of my dumbassitude when it comes to believing that dogs should just love me and want to be with me always. Ahem.) And the problem with Licorice is that the longer we have her, the more I become deluded into thinking I Know Things when, really, I should just consult the Dog Emailer before I do anything other than, oh, I don’t know, feed the dog or rub her belly.
Anyway, we’ve had Licorice for a couple of months, now. She is still shy with new people, but totally comfortable with our home and family. (Um, if her flying leap into my bed every time I enter the bedroom and subsequent valiant slaying of my pillow—followed by a velocity of wagging that’s almost enough to knock her right off the bed—is any indication, that is.) When we go to doggie class she is a little timid, but has warmed up to the other dogs and has even been known to sniff at them and wag.
So really, was I so wrong in thinking she might enjoy a trip to a local dog park?
Answer: Yes. Yes, I was. YES, MORON, PLEASE TURN IN YOUR DOG.
It was a busy weekend; the kids went off with their dad, which meant that Otto and I embarked on a dozen projects and errands and such, and as a result we were in and out on Saturday. Licorice spent a lot of time chilling out here, alone, and when we hit a lull on Sunday I said to Otto, “Hey! It’s a beautiful day—why don’t we go try the dog park?” He agreed, and off we went.
We arrived at the dog park, and because it was a beautiful day and a weekend, it was mobbed. And I’m not making any accusations or anything, but I am pretty sure that several people had brought their pet ponies rather than actual dogs. It was… well, it was crowded and possibly overwhelming, so we did the smart thing and took Licorice into the separate area intended for small dogs. The only problem was, there weren’t any other dogs in there.
She trotted around a little and then mostly spent her time right up at the fence, checking out the other dogs on the other side.
Had we just done that, I think she would’ve been fine. But no. No, I’m an idiot. A dog abuser. A trauma causer. I will star in the hit made-for-television movie, Fear and Loathing at the Dog Park. Because what did I do? I said to Otto, “She wants to go see the other dogs! Let’s take her in the main part!”
So we did. And a swarm of dogs came up to “say hello,” and Licorice allowed herself to be sniffed, and then she ran over to a nearby bench and JUMPED INTO THE LAP OF THE NEAREST STRANGER. (His reaction: “Oh! Um, hello there!”) (Thank God all the people at the dog park are Dog People, right?) I talked to her and patted her head and offered her treats, and she just sat in that strange man’s lap and refused to even look at me, because she. was. PISSED.
I kind of wanted to take her from this guy, but she was all curled up in his lap, and he seemed to be enjoying petting her (he and his wife commenced with a long story about their dog and which dogs there are regular buddies and such), and there was no way for me to extricate her without, you know, sticking my hands directly into this guy’s crotch. So finally I said, “Well, maybe we’ll take her back over to the small dog area!” and he caught the clue and picked her up and handed her back to me.
This time a couple of people took pity on us—a woman with a pretty little Bichon, and another woman with some sort of chihuahua mix, and we went back into the other area with these two other dogs and set Licorice down and sat down on a bench to see what would happen.
Here’s what happened: The other two dogs ran and played and enjoyed themselves, and Licorice walked slowly around the perimeter, planning her escape and/or our violent deaths, while stopping to pee every fifteen seconds and poop three times. I kept expecting to see a kidney or her liver pop out of her rear end, so focused as she was on squeezing everything out.
Also, did you know that dogs salivate when they’re nervous? Did you know that a 12-pound dog who is incredibly freaked out can manufacture enough saliva in 15 minutes to be wet down her chin, down her neck, down her front, and ACTUALLY SATURATE HER FEET? It’s true! Handy little piece of information for you, there, should you ever decide to similarly torment your pet.
Really, I could’ve made this a much shorter story by comparing and contrasting the thought processes, here.
I thought: It’s a beautiful day, and Licorice loves being outside, and the dog park will allow us to take her off leash in a much larger area than she can run free in at home, and it will be TONS OF FUN! She will enjoy seeing some other dogs, and love getting to run around!
She thought: My humans got rid of the hairless puppies; they were here and now they’re gone. I’m pretty sure they left in a car. And now I’ve left in a car. Wait, now I’m in a strange place with a bunch of butt-sniffers who I think might be biting each other and will soon realize I would make an extremely tasty appetizer. The humans are going to leave me here with them! OH NO! I WILL NEVER SEE THE COUCH OR PEPPERONI AGAIN!! Maybe if I make myself VERY SMALL no one will notice me. I will just excrete until I disappear. Starting… NOW.
So… yeah. We finally realized she was not going to “warm up” and brought her home (after wiping her down with some paper napkins we had in the glove box, because she was slick with drool and angst), and although I really wanted to curl up with her on the couch and feed her three pounds of treats and assure her that we love her and won’t ever get rid of her, I did the “right” thing and put her in her crate to decompress. Five seconds after I shut the door I heard a Mighty Snoring, the likes of which generally only follows an insane amount of exercise.
Fortunately, after her nap she was more or less back to her old self, and I’m pretty sure she’s forgiven us. I’m also pretty sure it’s because the kids came back and she realized that we don’t just routinely dispose of our children.
Note to self: Spend more time on the couch with the dog. Fresh air and socialization is hazardous to her health.