Adventures at the Dog Park (#141)

Andy wanted a dog. We adopted a rescue named Woofie.

Woofie wanted to play with everything, including the cats. The cats did not want to play with Woofie. In vain would Woofie bark and prance around in front of them. The cats would only hide, hit, and hiss.

Woofie was sad. Until we discovered the Redondo Beach Dog Park.

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The big dog park. It goes on way past the towers.

The Redondo Beach Dog Park is a shockingly large undeveloped area in Los Angeles County. There are two fenced areas: a small one for little dogs, and a massive one for large dogs. The big dog side even has an extra area that could be closed off, but is usually open. Dog owners come from all over. Some dogs aren’t very social – they just want to stretch their apartment-cramped legs chasing tennis balls.

Others, like Woofie, were very social. A the park, Woofie’s tail wagged non-stop. He waited by the entry gate to meet every dog that arrived. I imagined his greetings like this: “Hello! I am Woofie! Delighted to meet you! Big dogs on the left, small dogs and puppies on the right. Now I will sniff your butt.”

Woofie also loved people. Though his “hello” to men was disconcerting. Woof would prance over, jam his snout into a guy’s crotch, and flip his oversized head back. More than one guy doubled over, cringing, while his buddy also doubled over, laughing. Andy, too, found this hilarious.

Men are mean like that.

Woofie invariably found several dogs to wrestle and run with. Most of the dogs were friendly, as were the owners.

And then there were the Purebred Dog Owners. They had their own cliques. Breed cliques, really. The Rhodesian Ridgeback owners all came on certain days, to meet up with other Ridgeback owners. They only talked to each other while their dogs played, but they didn’t seem to mind if Woofie the Mongrel played with their purebreds. The same held true for the Great Dane clique and the Bernese Mountain Dog clique. The Australian Shepherds didn’t have a clique – their dogs were all loners intent on balls.

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Traditional dog greeting.

The owners of energetic working dogs like Huskies, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers were the most numerous, but they’d gratefully thank anyone who had a dog willing to wear out theirs.

The Poodle People, though, were the Ultimate Clique. If you did not have a show dog with a continental cut, you and your dog did not exist. The Poodle People all met at the far end of the park and huddled together. They even closed the annex gate to keep the rescued riffraff away.

But you know what’s great about dogs? Dogs don’t care what other dogs look like. Dogs also don’t believe in fences. A gorgeous black standard poodle with her continental show cut leapt over that gate. She galloped into the mass of mutts. The mutts chased her. Tongue out, having the time of her life, that poodle blazed a trail around the park’s perimeter, like comet trailing a canine tail.

Her owner followed, screeching, “Call off your dogs! She’s a show dog! Get your dogs away from her!” She huffed hopelessly after Queen Coquette Show Poodle.

One mutt owner just shook his head. “Ha, we couldn’t catch them if we tried.”

Andy snickered. “What the hell did you bring a dog in here for, if not to play?”

I yelled, “Go, Woofie! Catch that show girl! She looks like she’d love to wrestle!”

Some fifteen minutes later, Queen Coquette Show Poodle’s owner dragged her out of the park. Queen Coquette was coated in dirt, bark shavings, and a several cups of Woofie’s drool. Her owner looked pissed. Queen Coquette looked thoroughly unrepentant.

Alas, we never saw Queen Coquette again. She’s probably bored out of a her skull on an ivory dog bed somewhere.

As weird as the Poodle People were, at least they paid attention to their animals. Plenty of other owners would sit on a bench while on their phones, utterly ignoring their dogs. It’s against the rules – you’re supposed to stay with your dog — but it’s not a problem if other you have a dog who gets along with all other dogs. IMG_8994It IS a problem if your dog decides he has a problem with another dog.

And what happens a negligent owner has a big, potentially aggressive dog, going after a smaller one?

I’ve spoken to a lot of disgusted owners who’ve had their dog stitched up. But sometimes, dogs get lucky. Sometimes Woofie is there.

Early one morning, a huge German Shepherd decided he did not like a small, young Golden Retriever. He snarled and snapped at her. She hunkered down in the dirt. Other dog owners searched and yelled for the Shepherd’s owner:

“Aggressive dog!”

“Who owns this Shepherd?”

“Does anyone know?”

“GET YOUR DOG!”

The owner was nowhere to be found. And no dog-savvy human is willing to grab a strange dog’s collar, not when it’s larger than a K-9 Police Dog and snarling. The Golden Retriever’s owner waved frantically at the Shepherd, telling it to sit, telling it no, and getting in front of her cowering dog. The Shepherd darted around her and lunged in at the Golden from the side—

–only to skid to a halt as Woofie bounded in front of the little dog. Woof barked, poking his big snout at the Shepherd. The Shepherd backed off, surprised. He barked back at Woofie, then lunged in at the Golden from another angle. Woofie cut in front once again, whining and flipping his head. Again, the confused Shepherd backed up. For two very long minutes, Woofie countered the giant German Shepherd’s every attack on the little Golden, without biting or becoming aggressive himself.

Woofie just got in the way. Kind of like he did in the kitchen at home.

The owner finally showed up, snapped a leash on the German Shepherd, and dragged the dog out of the park, showered by various owners’  angry, outraged shouts.

Meanwhile, Woofie received effusive praise and pats on his head from all the Dog Persons:

“Good dog!’

“You’re a hero!’

“Such a smart, handsome boy!”

The Golden Retriever’s owner hugged Woofie and then hugged me. “What a great…what kind of dog is he?”

“He’s a rescue mutt. Part Labrador, part Dane, and maybe American Bulldog.”

“Well, he’s one hundred percent amazing! He just kept drawing off the attacks. He knew just how to save her!”

She hugged Woofie one last time. He gave her a tongue facial.

I soon left the dog park with my so-called Hero Dog.

I lectured Woofie as he pranced home: “Don’t let it all this hero crap go to your head, buddy. Because I know. I know exactly what you were saying every time you jumped in there and barked. And it wasn’t ‘I will save you, fair maiden! If you want to get to her, Evil German Shepherd, you will have to go through me!’” I shook my head at him. “No way, dude. What you were really saying was:

‘Hey! No fair! Don’t play with her! Play with me!’

Woof in a rare quiet moment. Almost regal, even.
Woofie looking uncharacteristically regal.

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

31 thoughts on “Adventures at the Dog Park (#141)”

  1. He’s a beautiful dog with a caring personality. No matter if he didn’t understand he was rescuing a damsel in distress. All that matters is that he was a hero. Remember that when he digs up something. I don’t have a dog but I know there are issues sometimes at our local dog park. I have friends who no longer use it. There is a German Shepherd that could use some courtesy lessons that comes frequently with a disinterested owner.

    1. My friend JM says dogs are like people. Some dogs like one everyone. Some dogs hate other dogs. And sometimes, two dogs just don’t get along. But if you have an iffy dog, you have to be on top of them. I saw two German Shepherd owners working really, really hard to socialize their iffy rescues at the park once.They made everyone nervous, but they were trying so, so hard. Kudos to them.

  2. Aw I love this story Autumn! GO WOOFIE!! What an adorable personality…

    I never thought there would be cliques at the dog park according to purebred, but man, was I wrong. It is socal after all!

    1. Yeah, I always thought it was dog people versus cat people, but I guess serious breeders must protect their investments and mutt owners are often contemptuous of thousand dollar show dogs.

      We have some champion basset hounds in our neighborhood, though, and they are adorable. Though very drooly.

  3. Doggy cliques and jealousy! So you really think Woofie did want to play with the German Shepherd? It sounded like by the time the owner came, he was just warming up. I wouldn’t be surprised if he could actually go on like that for an hour. You know, that would be quite a show. He already sounds like a bit of a celebrity and I am sure he will be recognised when you go out with him.

    Lovely to meet Woofie in the last photo. He has quite a shiny coat, well brushed (or maybe it is just him on a good hair day). Maybe you should tell him how nice he looks…or maybe not 😀

    1. I am sure I took that picture of Woofie because he’d just had a bath and was especially shiny. He’s usually got more dirt on his coat, because he loves to dig and roll. He thinks he looks fantastic always!

      Woofie made himself very well-known, at least in our neighborhood. But more on that later. 🙂

  4. Dog parks are great. There is actually an expat dogs club here in Siem Reap. They meet on Sundays in a park like setting between fancy hotels. Good choice! We stumbled upon a friend there once with his rescue dog. Shaggy thing – I’m not sure how he sees behind all that hair.

    Glad to hear Woofie was the hero of the day! (Because I’m soooo down on dog owners who do not train and treat their dogs well. Such a disservce and dangerous to everybody, including their dog!)

    1. So what kind of dogs do you mostly see in Thailand? Big? Small? Street dogs? Purebreds?

      Oh, absolutely, people should train their dogs and attempt to socialize them. I have to say, some dogs are just more difficult to socialize than others. They were bred for a particular purpose for centuries, and sometimes nurture just can’t win out over nature. So if you have a big dog that can do a ton of damage that is prey driven and fixates, you have to keep them under control, either physically or verbally. I don’t care which. 🙂

      Small dogs are usually less well-trained. Because if they misbehave, their owners just pick them up!

      1. In Cambodia, we generally see mutts, street dogs. It’s rare to see a pure-bred. In Thailand, almost the same, but Thais have more $$$ so you’re starting to see more variety.

          1. I’d say folks with money have pampered pets. Otherwise, dogs roam around, mostly on the streets. It depends though on where, city vs countryside, etc. Thailand has charities for these kinds of things, but there are a lot of street dogs. Cambodia doesn’t have the same problem to such a great extent. Some might argue its the Vietnamese eating them…

  5. Hooray for Woofie!

    I wish we had a dog park! Nico always has to be on a leash, because many people are scared of “big” dogs here. Even though she’s pretty small for a golden retriever.
    Well, she also has to be on a leash because if I let her free she would eat all the trash she could find.

    1. LOL about the trash. Golden Retrievers are notorious for being insatiable eaters and being able to eat food in seconds. They rival Labs in that respect.

      So is it mostly small dogs? I remember sadly watching the whole Tibetan Mastiff craze in China.

  6. Love this story! What an awesome dog and the ending made me smile ☺ We want to adopt a rescue dog but can’t have a dog in our apartment – we are looking at a dog sharing site where maybe we can take other people’s dogs on walks and to the park. City life.

    1. Are there a lot of shelters? We have a ton, and people volunteer to walk dogs there. Only now, thanks to the Pokemon Go craze, some are “renting” shelter dogs to adults who want to disguise their game-playing.

      1. There are lots of shelters – not sure if there are any nearby but will definitely look into that option for dog walking. Haha I think Pokemon Go is doing more for people’s fitness than any exercise program could!

  7. Love dog stories!

    And I miss my big wolf (malamute-husky). He was rescued as a sickly, shy pup and I spent my entire life socialising him into a happy (but stubborn) one.

    He loved dog parks and had a St. Bernard for best friend 🙂

    I’d love another snow dog but our apartment is better suited for our (very spoilt) rescue cat. Maybe next house 🙂

    1. Thank you, Shelley! Oh, I bet your big wolf was BEE-YOO-TEE-FULL! Also, I bet your vacuum was busy. Good job with your rescue and socialization.

      Yeah, most snow dogs need a ton of exercise. Big mastiffs, though, do okay in apartments if they get short walks. Because they just laze around all the time anyway. Of course, the smaller the apartment, the more likely you are to trip over them…

    1. Some do, but usually it’s for the older dogs like pugs that can’t walk anymore. Sometimes, though, on the Strand walkway by the beach, people will carry dogs in backpacks instead of walking them on a leash. But then they put these dogs down and they go nuts, tearing through the sand like whirlwinds, flying through volleyball games, etc. And they aren’t supposed to be on the beach. And people are yelling, “If you’d walk your dog, it wouldn’t be insane like this!”

      I used to see a lot more of them dressed up, but I think shows like “The Dog Whisperer” have done a lot to educate most owners — “the dog does not want to be an accessory! The dog needs exercise, discipline, affection! YOU are the ones who want to dress him up!”

      Usually I only see dressed up for Halloween. But the dyeing of the fur is popular on certain breeds.

  8. You go Woofie! You certainly made the other dogs’ days better. Especially that one poodle which jumped over the fence! (Poor thing must be bored to death at home.)

  9. Ah! Tales from the dog park. You really lucked out with Woofie–or maybe you chose well. I like to think that he really did want to rescue the Golden Retriever.

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