Dog Park Freedom!!

After seeing Ginger’s pure joy at being able to run free, I knew that I was going to have to become comfortable with dog parks because that was the only place she would be able to do that. Before this, I had never stepped foot in a dog park, and the only one I had really seen was downtown Seattle at a bus stop (it looked sad and depressing and I always wondered why people would take their dogs there). So, I asked around to people I knew and trusted where they took their dogs, what parks were the best? I had a few different answers, but almost always, Magnuson Dog Park came up. It’s one of the largest dog parks in Seattle and offers several different options: access to the lake, a large field-like running area, a paved walking trail, and a space for small and shy dogs. There is also a dog park closer to my apartment but it’s much smaller.

One Sunday, after a lazy brunch, bf and I decided to take Ginger to the dog park closest to my apartment and see how she did. I don’t know how dogs pick up on things, but she was excited as soon as she got in the car, like she just knew we were going to do something fun for her. As soon as we parked in the parking lot, she was a bundle tail wagging and fidgetiness (this is my own word, leave it alone). Now, this particular dog park is located near the zoo in Seattle, which means it’s a slightly wooded area aka SQUIRREL HEAVEN. :-/ Walking back to the park was a chore. Every five feet she was lunging at something, straining at the end of her leash, nearly pulling me down. As a bonus, as soon as we started walking towards the park, it began raining. Lovely. The closer we got, the muddier it became and I began getting irritated. We got to the park in time for two large dogs to rush toward us, barking angrily as our shoes are sinking into the mud. I took one look at this park and said “No way in hell!” and we turned and left. I was not about to put my beautiful dog in a mud pit with angry, giant dogs for our first experience. Peace out. (and back through squirrel heaven :(…*no squirrels were harmed or killed the making of this adventure*)

In order to not make the day a total loss, we drove over to Magnuson where the sun was shining, the dogs were happier, and there was no sight of mud (maybe down by the lake, but we didn’t venture that direction). We entered the park on the Eastside, near the lake on the paved, path area. I put her in a sit (which she didn’t really stay in) and un-clipped the leash and OFF SHE RAN! I immediately freaked out. “Is she going to come back?! GINGER!! Should I put her back on the leash? GINGER!! Where’s she going? Is she going to eat that dog? Sorry!! GINGER!!” Yeah, poor bf. He was calmly walking along while I was chattering nervously the whole time, questioning everything, trying to get her to come back, feeling bad that she was running up to every dog she could find, saying hi to all the owners. It was very nerve-wracking. After the first 100 yards or so, she began to run back our direction, then back the other way, stopping here and again to make sure we were still around, and listening to my calls a bit more.

We reached the open area and she immediately went in search of a dog who would chase her. This is when I learned a bit more of personality. She is not a food-driven dog, not a toy-driven dog, she is  RUN DRIVEN dog. She wants nothing to do with doggie-drama, no fights, no wrestling, she just wants to chase and be chased by any dog that can compete with her speed. And once she has her initial energy out, she stays within 20 feet of me at all times and listens pretty well when I call her back.

On our way back towards the entrance, we decided to sit on a bench and see how she would react: would she just go on? Would she sit with us? And so we sat, and she went on walking, turned around, headed back for us and sat at our feet. I have never felt prouder in my life! We sat for a solid 15 minutes or so, with her intermittently getting up to say hi to different dogs, but always coming back. We had a LARGE German Shepherd come by and say hi to which Ginger translated to “hey, wanna play?!” and after she made a little jump at him, he took his giant paw and smacked her. Yeah, she kind of got put in her place there. After that, she’s not wanted to have much to do with German Shepherds.

When we reached our entrance again, she came right to me, and I leashed her back up and off we went back to the car, where she promptly curled up and napped. I was so happy to learn that while she does get excited and tends to jump a bit (a habit I’m not fond of) she’s really a pretty well-behaved dog!

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