Thursday, March 11, 2021

Dog Park Rules by Carrie Jo Howe

Carrie and Lucy with Lottie and Vana

LUCY BURDETTE: All of you know that I succumbed to the wave of pandemic puppies and brought home our Lottie in July. I didn't realize that our Key West neighbor brought a Havanese puppy home at almost the same time. We have so enjoyed watching them play, and watching the same funny traits mirrored in another dog. 


We've also explored the various dog parks in Key West. One involved all size dogs mixed up together, and was not well maintained. Nope, too risky for our babies. 

One was very small and safe, but the dogs came out very dirty. Maybe we'll go  occasionally. 




The dog parks by Higgs Beach are divided into large dog and small dog sections. Okay, this is more like it, let's play! Lottie is pretty much fearless, but Vana, more careful. 

Lottie with her pals Chester and Barclay (and Eric)


As we were watching them one day and talking about the whole scene, I said to Carrie, "this would make a good blog." And so here you are... 

CARRIE JO'S DOG PARK RULES:

1. You better not bring a BIG dog in the SMALL dog park - you’ll get the frosty cold shoulder from SMALL dog owners who will promptly cradle their pets protectively and scurry to the other side of the park.



2. Don’t bring in a MEDIUM size dog - ITS A SMALL DOG PARK

3. Come prepared with your own ball -- if Fluffy steals Snookie’s ball it will be a hashmark on your eternal soul.

4. Understand that the park has a structure. Owners are segmented into three groups: Regulars--who sit in a impenetrable circle of chairs (some with dogs on their laps), Seasonals--who stand behind the regulars hoping beyond hope their dogs (or even better--they) will one day be accepted into the inner circle, and Tourists--who either don't notice the divisions or don’t give a shit.




5. Speaking of shit - pick it up people. There are poop bag dispensers everywhere in the park - move your fanny pack aside, bend over and pick it up - not that difficult.

6. Cute as it is to see a train of connected chihuahuas conga dancing, NO humping - if your little dog is a humper -take them to the BIG dog park. That will either cure them of the behavior or deliver you with a nice litter of pitszou’s.

7. Keep your shirt on--it’s not the beach and your neked belly is not welcome here. (this is just MY rule).

8. Keep your shoes on - (see rule #5)

9. If your dog is a biter - WHY ARE YOU AT THE DOG PARK? And LOOK UP FROM YOUR PHONE WHILE YOUR DOG IS BITING MY DOG.

10. Bring gossip...preferably about another dog owner.  Who knows? Juicy enough scoop might get you into the inner circle.

BIG Dog Park Rules

There are no rules - you’re hanging with the big dogs - you better be able to handle the undulating scrum of humping dogs  That’s BIG dog territory.

Reds, have you had dog park experiences? We'd love to hear your stories!


After living in Key West full time for the past seven years, Carrie Jo Howe currently resides in Miami with her husband... and her quarantine puppy...and her quarantine son... and her other quarantine son... and his wife. 

Her book Island Life Sentence is available through Amazon

49 comments:

  1. Alas, I have no dog park stories to share :(

    Some of the rules make me chuckle, Carrie, especially the one about gossip!

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    1. Yes - human social hour is just as important as dog exercise!

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  2. ROBERTA: I am glad to see Lottie having fun with her pals in the small dog park!
    There is dog park etiquette here too for the four-legged ones in Ottawa, but I have no personal dog park stories to share.

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    1. she loves the dog park--it's pretty boring at home with 2 humans and T-bone!

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  3. Dog parks are terrific, and I say that as a cat person. Dogs need room to play off leash and a designated park is the perfect space -- providing the humans follow the rules!

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    1. My last dog, beloved Tonka, eschewed the dog park. He had one friend he played with as a puppy, but otherwise he was a serious fellow:)

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  4. Kenai is a big dog. He is a 100+ pound German Shepherd. He will play with dogs of all sizes but we don't bring him to dog parks, and he's old and a bit lame now. His day care/boarding facility is The Good Dog Spot. He's been going there since he was 3 months old and he still loves to go. He was always one of the dogs who played with all the others under their careful supervision. Interestingly, the breeds will self divide and it isn't unusual to see all the German Shepherds hanging out together in the Good Dog Spot's photo albums.

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    1. I need to find a place like that in CT. He sounds like such a good dog!

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    2. Thanks, Roberta. You always think your own dog is good, in spite of glaring faults. Like kids, I guess.

      Doggie Day Care is a big thing here, so you should be able to find a good one. We love ours so never looked at the others, but there are plenty in this area. There should be some near the shore.

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  5. I'm just happy there ARE dog parks and wish there were more of them. That way dog owners wouldn't let their dogs off leash on trails clearly marked that they must be leashed. (Grr - yes, I'm not someone who loves most dogs.)

    Curious - don't small dogs hump?

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    1. We've really enjoyed going to the dog park and I prefer parks that split up the big and small dogs. My dog is very shy and even the miniature pups are scary to her.Thank goodness for Lottie - she paves the way for my little chicken. AND - yes there are definitely small humpers!

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  6. We don’t do dog parks. Ours are small, around 12 pounds, and Penny can be nippy. She’s never bitten anything, canine or feline or human. Still, she’s a dog. Fortunately ours play hard with each other and welcome the odd visiting small dog to their fenced in back garden. They are well socialized with all living things except chipmunks.

    We do have play dates when the weather is good. And now that more and more people are vaccinated, I hope these. Will increase, complete with wine and food.

    Lottie is welcome to join us and stay for dinner.

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  7. I've taken Koda to the local dog park - not divided, but a nice grassy area. He's a big dog, a greyhound, but he gets along with 99.5% of every dog there, no matter the size. He had a wonderful day with a group of mini dachsies. It was like watching a bunch of Lilliputians swarm. He is very easy going, so if a dog gets aggressive, he just trots away. Sometimes he decides to run and, well, no one can keep up with him. Even the dogs whose owners thought they were pretty fast.

    There have only been two occasions where Koda snapped at another dog. Once was at the park, at a boxer-ish puppy that would not stop jumping on Koda's shoulders. I left because the other owner was all, "He's a puppy, I don't want to get involved because he needs to stand up for himself, you need to control your dog better." Hey, MY dog was sniffing the dandelions! The other time was my neighbor's maltese-poodle mix. Normally they get along, but I'm pretty sure Regis snapped at Koda's ankles. Also a no-no.

    I didn't get to the park much last summer because of the pandemic. I hope to this year.

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    1. Koda sounds like a treasure! One thing our trainer emphasized in puppy class is that it's a mistake to let dogs "figure it out." If another dog is too rough, the owner needs to intervene

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  8. We've never been to a dog park and as far as I know there are none anywhere near here. But I am out in the country and my dog Sunny goes wherever she wants, which is usually within 30 feet of the house. I won't take her walking in the woods because I don't want her going off on her own. Maybe because she is so timid but she is apparently content to stand near the house and bark her head off at things she hears, like the dog on the other side of the woods.

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  9. A dog park finally opened in our area, and the vet said NO. He'd had too many canine patients bitten or pick up worms. So Jazz and Louie our standard poodles have a platoon of friends they've made on twice-daily walks. Love your description of the dog owners in the park!

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    1. I also worry about the possibility of worms and fleas in the dog park. We've been visiting during the pandemic when it's been relatively calm. My dog's innate cowardice makes her a very good social distancer.

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    2. whereas Lottie is not a fan of social distance:)

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  10. Oh, so funny! It's been a long time since I owned a dog, but when I did he was a German Shorthaired Pointer. A big dog who LOVED little dogs. We stopped going to dog parks because his favorite activity was jumping the dividing fence between big and small dogs to buddy up with the wee ones.

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    1. LOL, and he might have been fine! But the little dog people get nervous...

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    2. My brother-in-law had a German Shorthaired Pointer when my sister married him. Great dog. So perfect and gentle with the babies his domain. Chuck did a fabulous job teaching him how to behave.

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  11. The love for dogs of one of my sister brought her to become a dog walker many years ago. It began as helping friends who didn’t have time to walk their dogs and rapidly expended to accommodate lots of people. So much so that , not able to accommodate everyone, she bought a house with a piece of land on which she created a dog park and bought an old bus. She installed the bus for dog needs and now twice a day she picks up a lot of dogs and bring them to run and play in her park.
    Her park, her choice of rules and of dogs. She love them so much , she wouldn’t jeopardize their security.

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  12. Love the rules, Carrie Jo. Every dog owner needs a copy.

    We don't have a dog, but two of our kids do, and when they visit (hopefully soon) they need to take their fur babies somewhere to run since we don't have a fence. All their dogs are big, a chocolate Lab, and two Berners. Luckily, there are three dog parks within four miles of our house, with varying levels of features. One is just a big open fenced-off part of a city park, but the fanciest one has a massive TV screen (I swear it's visible from space), and a big puppy pool. The intermediate one is the most popular with our grand dogs.

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  13. My son and wife from LA are staying with us...with their two dogs. As much as I love my grand dogs, I'm ready for the human version. I do have a lovely pink stroller for the dogs, however it's just not the same. I'm getting quite a lot of push back from my son when I plop his dog in it. It is really cute though.

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  14. Wow. . This is a whole new world. Maybe you should just post it at the entrance to each place? For the common good?
    So funny!
    And which of you is going to write the mystery novel about this? Or are you planning a collaboration?

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  15. It is an alternate universe for sure!
    I'll defer to Lucy Burdette to write and solve the mystery of the human bones dug up by Lottie in the park.

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  16. "Undulating scrum of humping dogs" made me laugh so hard I nearly passed out.

    We are former big dog people who fell in love with a Shih Tzu and never went back. Now one daughter owns a blind, 13 year old Shih Tzu, and the other has a little, anxious mutt who loves to play in the small dog playground at doggy daycare. Before she landed in the shelter, Janey had at least one litter; the darecare folks say she's wonderful with any puppies around.

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  17. We are also former big dog owners. As much as we worshipped our insanely active Vizslas, we are so happy with our little 12 pounder. Her overall anxiety and mental health issues make her a perfect fit for our family.

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    1. LOL Carrie. You should tell them the story of training your puppy and husband both with the spray bottle...

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  18. I don't have a dog. Had some when we were growing up but no dog parks in the 60s. My sister's family has always had dogs, none of them have been small. I have only one rule when my sister's dog/s visit - they should not jump up on me. I'll sit with them, pet them, talk to them, give them belly rubs, I'll even fill the water bowls and food bowls when I visit the but don't jump on me.

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  19. The list of rules had me laughing out loud!
    Well done.
    Play on!

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  20. I agree - jumping is super annoying. We had to hire a professional dog handler to train our Vizsla out of the behavior. I used to instruct my female visitors to "protect your ovaries" when the dog approached them. Fortunately, most of my friends were beyond childbearing age.

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  21. Carrie Jo, thanks for starting the day out with a laugh!! I love your rules! We don't take our German shepherds to the dog park--don't want them tangling with other big dogs behaving badly, and one of ours is a bit timid. We have a big fenced yard and they play together, as well as with our three cats.

    I definitely see a mystery starting with gossip at the dog park!

    Isn't it funny how dogs don't recognize size difference? Our first GSD was a big dog, over 100 pounds, and she was absolutely smitten with two little Doxies would we see on our daily walks. Ecstatic wiggling and play bows all around!

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    1. Debs, there's definitely going to be a dog park scene in the book I'm writing. Hayley could take Nathan's min pin Ziggy and stand outside that circle to listen in...

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  22. Thanks to Roberta for introducing me to the group - so many great stories to read!

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  23. No stories here! We've never been to a dog park. Our dogs have never been trained to where I would expect them to obey without exception. Terriers and terrier mixes are hard headed! Anyway I wouldn't trust them loose in a park and frankly I don't trust the other owners either.

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  24. No dog park stories here.

    Interesting to read about small dog park. I read somewhere that more people are adopting small dogs. If I ever get a dog, I would like a small dog because I would be able to pick up the dog if I wanted to. Harder to carry a big dog, right?

    Diana

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    1. I've never had a small dog before Lottie. but she's definitely easier to transport!

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  25. J C Eaton has the sleuth in their Arizona series take her mother's dog Streetman to the dog park to get the gossip. No pets here. I just read about other people's. Stay safe and well.

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  26. My first poodle, Fred was a cop in the dog park. He was about 2 when a German Shephard puppy decided to flip him over. Fred nudged him out of the way. The puppy tried again. Fred nudged him out of the way. The third time the puppy tried it, Fred sat back on his haunches, bared his teeth and growled. I'd never heard him growl, ever. The puppy stopped, looked surprised, and backed off. Fred trotted over to me and on we went with the puppy following meekly behind. The next day, a big boxer was harassing a little bichon who wasn't happy about it. Fred got between them and just by taking a step or two backed the boxer off. The boxer tried again and Fred backed him off. The little dog's owner watched this and asked me if Fred knew what he was doing. Yup. IF you asked him he would tell you that it was his dog park and when he was there, nobody bullied anybody.

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  27. Stern rules Carrie, but have it right.

    Love the pitzhou litter reference!

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