Dog Park Days of Summer

Yesterday was a great day to be at the dog park. With blue skies and a slight breeze, Murray and Sydney had the run of the joint, and since we haven’t been there in a week there were many new adventures to be sniffed out (get it).

The running adventure. Never are the dogs happier then when off their leashes, unencumbered by my directional decision making and free to pee wherever and whenever.

The smelling game. Our dog park has so many visitors that even if we came ever day, they’d always have a new bouquet of stink to figure out.

The watering hole. Fort Steilacoom Dog Park does it right. Be wary of dog parks without water. It makes me nervous, especially in the summer, to not have a fresh water source for the “kids”. Our dogs have heavy coats and need to drink a lot to stay cool.

JJ Attack is a big fan of the park too. He’s figured out that his stroller has a sun roof, so he can keep an eye on Mom and Dad.

So what’s a dog park?

“Off-leash dog areas, or dog parks, provide a community setting in which people can gather and socialize and where they can observe the interaction of groups of dogs at play. Dog parks the world over allow owners and their dogs to spend time together while the dog satisfies its cravings for canine play and companionship,” says the all-knowing and powerful Wikipedia.

Socializing, very important with all dogs, is ingrained in the motive behind dog parks. Leashes can cause territorialism. Allowing dogs the opportunity to interact off-leash curbs aggressive behavior. You wouldn't hover over your human children all day, would you? Well, maybe you would. Like children, dogs need to learn boundaries and interrelate on their own.

My favorite part of that description is “satisfies is cravings for canine play.” Uh…butt smelling and peeing on everything. Got it. Shouldn’t we all have an area for that?

Most importantly dog parks are enclosed. Fences range from four to six feet in height and most parks have double gates, where you can safely remove leashes without concern of your dog running off, unless you want them to then you just look the other way and act oblivious. Be free!

Well, our dogs love the dog park and we 100-percent encourage their use. Personally, I recommend Fort Steilacoom and Marymoor dog parks. They are expansive and provide plenty of water. Fort Steilacoom is our home park and we’re very grateful to have it so close.

Let me introduce you to our kids.

He has four legs, I promise.

Murray, the three year old, is the lover. Weighing in at over 105 pounds, he’s a Bernese (no, it’s not Burmese) Mountain Dog which means he will always want to sit on your feet, always crawl through your legs for some booty scratching and always be a huge weenie. He’s petrified of the cat and the baby, a combined 35 pounds of fur pulling, talon flashing terror in his eyes. 

Bernese Mountain dogs, referred to as Berners, originated in Switzerland as a farm dog. Their temperament is calm and well behaved. Berners are gentle creatures, who you may see pulling carts full of children. They are strong and eager to please. Murray in particular, when not coerced by his sister, needs minimal supervision. Last time we went camping, he put himself to sleep next to our tent when it started to get dark. Often times we’ll hear him stomping up the stairs at home as if telling us, “I’m tired. Going to bed now. See you tomorrow.”

The big chicken’s partner in crime is Sydney, our princess. She turned nine last May and you can start to see her slowing down, which breaks my heart. That is, until she hits the trail. Sydney, an Alaskan Malamute, is a working dog through and through, although she only works on her terms and at her pace. On the trail she’s a speed demon, always 25 yards ahead at the front of our mismatched pack.

Alaskan Malamutes, commonly confused with Siberian Huskies, are one of the oldest, genetically distinct breeds of dog. During the Alaskan gold rush days, they were coveted sled dogs, “used for heavy freighting, pulling hundreds (maybe thousands) of pounds of supplies to villages and camps,” according to Wikipedia. Today they don’t do as much sled pulling as in years past, but still are viewed as the icon of the Iditarod, Alaska’s 1150 endurance race. The most distinctive characteristic of a Malamute may be its voice. Not a barker, a malamute will sing a song like a wolf’s howl. Sydney, in particular, does an excellent Chubaka impression and has learned that singing into drive-thru windows generally produces a treat. Once, at a Taco Time, she got a box of free mexi-tots. Man, I love her.

Back to the parks, a dog park is an ideal illustration of how dogs should live - carefree, safe, active. Dog parks do not allow aggressive animals, and I can attest that if a dog owner does bring in a misbehaving dog they are quickly denounced and sent packing. Good dog owners do not tolerate bad dog owners, and most of us will agree that a dog takes on the characteristics of its owner. If your dog is “bad” it’s probably your fault.

And that is the end of today's public service announcement. We're off to the park.

Visit Dog Park USA for a dog park near you.