April 30, 2011

Dog Park Afternooon

This afternoon we took the pups to the local dog park. Which is really just a glorified fenced-in yard. But still, the excitement it provokes in the boys borders on apoplexy.

We get there and eventually a medium-small dachshund/beagle mix shows up and they all decided they were best friends, running around and tumbling all over each other.

After we had been there a half an hour or so, the other pet owners look up and say, "Oh, good, more big dogs!" (They're hard to come by here) And I look over and see two pitbulls headed our way.

Yes, they looked exactly like these,
except the top one was all-white,
and they both had golden eyes.

Now, I just want to clarify something - I'm not anti-pitbull in general. Dogs are dogs, and any dog can be trained to be aggressive, and any dog can be trained to be obedient. But not every animal requires the same level of training or methods of training.

This may sound harsh, but whenever there's an "incident" involving a pitbull - at least every one I've read about - it later comes out that the pitbull, while it may have been loved and coddled, wasn't trained sufficiently, like beyond basic "sit" and "stay". Which is why I would never own a pitbull - it's a much bigger responsibility than owning, say, a squishy Husky that's predisposed to being cuddly and nurturing. However, I'm am all in favor of responsible people who are prepared and dedicated to training their pit correctly owning one.

All that to say: I see these two hefty pitbulls headed our direction and I get nervous. I don't know these dogs or their owners, I don't know if they are safe to be around, I don't know if they have been trained not to act on their instinctive aggression to my loud, rough-and-tumble puppies.

The owners - a father and his jr. high aged son - walk the dogs over and ask us if they can let their dogs meet our dogs. Good sign. We have ahold of our dogs and say, sure. They amble over and start sniffing our dogs.

These pits didn't bark once the whole time we were there, and were snuggly and friendly with all the humans. They even let the little yipper chew on them. Let's just say, I was very impressed with these pits, and their owners.

The little dachshund/beagle dog is loving it. He's jumping and barking at them and they are just sitting there sniffing him and licking him. He's having a blast.

Our puppies? Freaked. Out.

Achilles started running, and the pit terrier started running with him. Achilles, however, thought he was being chased and started screaming (no, really, bloody-murder-scared-to-death screaming) and hid behind the trash can by the gate. It was bizarre.

Jeb also wasn't a fan. He stayed close to my legs - unless I was petting one of the pits and trying to show him it was a nice dog, in which case he also kept a wide berth. I don't think the fact she kept trying to hump him helped. (Yes, she was humping my dog. Major crush, apparently.)

I have never seen my puppies instinctively fear another dog like that, for no reason whatsoever. It was strange. Achilles even "hid" between another lady's legs. Never seen this before. Ever. Nothing we did - trying to get them to sniff each other, petting and playing with the pits gratuitously in frot of them, slowly working them closer and closer together - nothing calmed them down.

Finally we pulled them to the gate and they were very ready to leave. It was the strangest afternoon in the dog park we've ever had. Other than the time this one guy didn't want any of the other dozen or so dogs playing with his Lab. Weirdo.

It was a good reminder for us that, even though they are already bigger than 75% of the dogs they play with at the dog park (considering I think 1/3 dog owners in El Paso own a chihuahua) they are still babies. Just turned 5 months old. And they will react like little kids to uncomfortable "scary" situations, which is to cling and maybe cry. And that's okay. It's part of growing up.

And they were very happy to go home.

Duh-duh! Batdog!


  1. I agree with you about the pitbull thing. I know that they can be nice dogs but I feel that it takes a very good owner who knows how to train extensively. I mean really knows how to be the pack leader. Have you read Cesar Millan's book, "Cesar's Way"? It's a great read for any dog owner. He talks a lot about pitbulls.

  2. I might be able to shed a little light on your pups reaction. :) I have a bullmastiff that I picked out specifically to train for service and therapy work. On of the conversations I had with the breeders was about that fact that Bull type dogs are put together in such a way as to look intimidating to humans- and it goes for dogs too. Bull types stand very square, have large chests, and eyes that are more to the front of their head. <-- these characteristics make the dog look more alert and watchful. This was done on purpose when the breeds were originally created. But it sends the same signal to other dogs that it does to most people- that the dog is watching YOU and is very aware and alert (leaving open the possibility of aggression). It is well known among bullmastiff owners that a happy, excited bullie will incite other dogs to attack out of fear. Because due to their conformation, my happy bouncing bullie girl looks to a small dog like a dominant, on guard, 120 lb canon ball. :) I'm glad you had a run in with responsible pit owners. When raised responsibly, pits are lovely animals.

  3. Totally agree! We had small dogs and every time I see pitbulls, I get the shivers down my spine. Although the owners are very sweet people, I am still always on the edge of my seat.

  4. I'm not a person who stereotypes dogs but my neighbor has one and it is the meanest dog I have ever seen! I constantly have to make sure that it's on it's leash anytime I'm in my back yard!

  5. I had a similar experience with the Remster when I was there on Sunday. There were 3 dogs when we got there, and 1 was ready to play, some lab mix looking thing. But it quickly turned into more dominant play with lots of barking and nipping. Remy didn't like it. He kept his tail down and actually stuck by my side until they left. I've never seen him actively avoid another dog before. He'll somewhat ignore the older dogs that don't want to play, but he doesn't avoid them on purpose.

    Then an older Vet showed up with his 6 dogs. 5 were pretty old and 1 was about Remy's age. They were all so well behaved, only the basset hound barked when his owner went to the truck to get more water. They had a blast.

  6. Your poor babies! Pit bulls are scary, but that is interesting that they so instinctively ran for cover!


I was nice and didn't turn on word verifications. Please reciprocate by having your reply-to email set and not posting anonymously.