Unleashed: Let her run!

Mocha is going to be exhausted for a week. This morning, as I was getting ready for work, she followed me from room to room, curling up as close to me as she could. While I showered, she slept on the bath mat. While I blow-dried my hair, she slept just outside the bathroom door. While I dressed, she leaned against the wall and stared at me. While I got my breakfast and lunch together, she flopped on the tiles of the kitchen.

Why so tired Mocha?

Is it because you had your first subway ride?

A romp in the park?

A second romp, in a second park?

There are a few dog park in this city. Unfortunately, there are none within walking distance from us. And, besides that, when I started asking around about dog parks after we had just gotten her, I got a lot of faces from other dog owners.

“I would never take my dog to a dog park,” one said. The big dogs, according to these helicopter dog owners, drag their owners to dog parks with one intention and one intention only: world domination. After a few stories, I got a little freaked by the concept of a dog park, especially after Mocha’s first snarly interaction with a pit bull outside our building.

But, then she got older. A little bit bigger. And I relaxed a little more.

So, this weekend, we took her on the subway and went southwest to the biggest park in the city. We wound our way through the trails until we found ourselves in a clearing filled with dogs. All types of dogs. Little, yappy ones. Big, beautiful ones. Dominating Dobermans, pouncing pugs.

Mocha, at first excited about being off her leash, stopped dead when she saw the mass of dogs. She cowered by our feet for a long time. The three of us, together, felt like the new kid on the playground, watching all the other kids shyly and just hoping someone will come and ask us to play Four-Square. And then she made her first new friend. Then her second. She came running back to us pretty quick whenever a dog that was just a bit too big, just a bit too rough, a bit too scary, came standing over her.

Here’s the truth about dog parks: yes, you need to be on guard. Yes, things can happen when dogs are off-leash, and yes, they can happen fast. But the benefits far, far outweigh the risks. Mocha had fun and so did we. We’re not going to squash that just because she might get hurt.

If you’re a little squeamish about the off-leash thing still, try a dog park that’s composed of trails instead of open spaces. Sunday, we visited our second dog park, composed completely of fenced in trails. There were far fewer dogs, most too intent on their walk to play.

We’re going to try to take her out again sometime this week, daylight permitting. The city certainly needs more, especially one closer to us.



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