There’s free therapy at your local dog park

I recently moved to a new part of town and started taking my two labs, Beaumont and Marshall, to the Link Piazzo Dog Park in Hidden Valley.

Last Sunday, I made my ritualistic trip there with the excitement starting the minute I picked up the dog leashes. But as I entered the confines of the park, I became quite aware of the various antics of my dogs and their interactions with the other attendees, both human and canine.

Routines

They had their own ritualistic routine.

Beaumont immediately takes off to sniff and relieve himself on every bush and bench. Then, exhausted, he searches for the right people to be his family for the outing and lies down at their feet.

Some might be offended by this behavior, but as a fellow park-goer pointed out, “It’s great that he is so sweet and social.”

Marshall, on the other hand, instantly begins his quest to find the perfect canine playmate.

In his mind, all other dogs, and their toys, are fair game and he knows no enemies. But he regularly checks back in with me, I suppose to be sure that I am still there. As a rescued dog, he knows the pain of abandonment.

It doesn’t take long for them to feel satisfied and fulfilled. They have successfully maneuvered and mastered the park, at least for the day, in their own unique ways.

Their confidence is soaring; their energy is waning; and they are ready for the quiet comforts of home.

Time for reflection

Back at home, I reflect on the experience. Nothing makes me happier than to watch them both have fun, but it’s also fascinating to see how they interact and react within this canine social network called a dog park.

They approach others with assertive curiosity but appropriately retreat if not welcomed. They stand up, firmly yet politely, for their rights when dogs breach their comfort zone.

I watch in wonder and think how great the world would be if people could master these same basic skills.

I highly recommend a trip to your local dog park. I guarantee that it will be entertaining for you and your canine companion, but maybe even a little therapeutic.

And if you don’t have dogs, just pause and observe — I believe we could all learn a thing or two from man’s (and woman’s) best friend!

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