I recently started taking my dogs to a local dog park, and for the most part I love it. Since we moved into our home here in Edmonds, we haven't really taken our boys on any walks. Why, you ask? Because our dogs are embarrassing. There, I said it. Don't get me wrong, I love those little tail waggers...but thinking about taking them on a walk is enough to send me into fit of hysteria. Cooper apparently thinks that EVERYONE is his friend...and that EVERYONE wants to meet him. He also loves women...so much so that he feels the need to jump up and smell and lick their hair. Seriously, where is this coming from?!? Puck on the other hand just squeals like a pig that is stuck in a gate.
We lived through many rough walks in Mukilteo...and by we, I mean ME! As part of my housewifely duties...I was given the task of exercising the dogs. Part of me thinks it was also Michael's way of getting me out to exercise as well, but I digress. Moving into this house was a blessing for me in many ways. But when it comes to our dogs...they had a yard to be in. I pictured them frolicking through the yard, chasing each other and having a GRAND time.
They are the lamest outside dogs. They will lie in their dog house until we go outside and then its apparently time to expend all the energy they've been storing up! This is cute...for a minute or two. Especially when you have yard work to do.
Okay, I'm getting off topic, focus Brian...focus. I like to think of myself as a "responsible dog owner." I say this because the biggest compliment I get from my neighbors is, "I didn't know you have dogs!" That's right, that's HUGE for me. I have worked very hard training my dogs to not be destructive or vocal. Very rarely do my dogs bark, on the rare occasion Puck will see a crow and think that its his job to scare it off...I don't think he realizes that with one bite the crow could take care of him. But this to me is part of being a responsible dog owner.
In our neighborhood, we have several dogs that bark all day. And when I say all day...I mean...ALL DAY! I know that "back in the day" people used to let their dogs roam the city streets, and greet everyone. But I'm not of that mind set. I believe that you should keep your dogs on your property unless you are walking them, on a leash. Now lets get to THAT! I have been doing quite a bit of work in our front yard lately, as you know if you read my blog. Every time that I'm out there, people are walking by with their dogs. I am appalled that people think it is okay to let their dogs walk through my flower beds, pee on everything in there, and then walk away like nothing is wrong. Seriously?! When we would take our boys for walks, I would NOT allow them to pee or poop in people's yards. There are plenty of places that aren't a part of some one's yard (and I'm not talking about the sidewalk or the street) for them to do their business. This becomes even more annoying when I go to mow our side yard that isn't fenced, and I have to pick up someone else's dog's poop.
Well let's get back to the dog park, shall we? I try to take the dogs to the dog park every day for at least an hour. And most days I will have one or more people tell me, "Your dog is too skinny." Okay...Cooper is part hound, and he has a very lean figure (one that I wish I had...but never will). I feed him the proper amount for a dog his size, and he is at a healthy weight for his breed of mutt. I would never tell someone that their dog is too skinny or too fat. Well that is of course if your dog looks healthy, you can tell a dog that is malnourished or well...over-nourished.
Today at the dog park, Cooper ran up to an older woman, and she bent over to pet him and show him some love. After Cooper ran off, the lady said, "Your dog's collar is too tight." She was talking about what I call his "I don't listen very well" collar. I responded, "It's suppose to be that way, it's a training collar." She fired back, "Well I don't think you should make him wear that." I took a deep breath and said, "Thank you for your unsolicited advice, but I know what's best for my dog." She gave me a look, huffed, and walked away.
Yes, my dogs wear Electronic Training Collars. Why, you ask? Because I know my dogs. These collars have helped immensely, and now 95% of the time all I have to use is the "beep" function. Recently, Cooper jumped the fence at the dog park and was on a dead run chasing a squirrel. Had it not been for that collar and it's buzz feature, Cooper would have been long gone. When he is focused on something like that, nothing can break him. Now, before you all scream, "YOU SHOCK YOUR DOG!?!?," and promptly stop reading my blog...listen. Before using them on our dogs, we tried them out on ourselves, and we've not used the shock feature on a higher level than we've tried on ourselves. It's not an electric shock like you'd receive from say...putting a fork into a plug in. It feels more like snapping yourself repeatedly with a rubber band. It doesn't hurt, but you don't want it to continue.
Buying these collars was a decision we came to when we realized that in certain situations we didn't have control over our dogs. And for their safety, they were necessary. My dog's safety takes priority, and I know that everyone has their opinions...but they are my dogs. They live a wonderful life...granted Puck will try to tell you that I don't feed him enough, but they have it good. But I know when they leave the confines of our yard, there are many things out there that will send them into a frenzy of excitement and they are hard to control. So that is the reason for the collars.
Let's get back to people giving unsolicited advice. I run a tight ship here at BP Farms Bed & Breakfast. We have a very nice home, and I would prefer to keep it that way. Our boys are allowed in the house, but they are not allowed free reign of the home. I always say, "This is my home, and the dogs are guests in this house." I expect my dogs to follow rules that many people think are "too much." But it comes down to this, everyone has a right to run their home the way they see fit. I choose to be hard on my dogs and keep them in line. Because of this, I don't have dogs that beg at the table, I don't have dogs that are swiping things from kitchen counters or tables. And most importantly, I don't have a house that smells like I have dogs. Think I'm crazy? :) Well let's just say that the dogs do have a great life, but in our home...just like children would, they are expected to follow rules.
So I guess this entire post boils down to this...I don't care if you have had dogs all your life, or if you've never had one....unsolicited advice is rarely appreciated. While you may think you know what's going on, you don't, so back off. And as for those of you walking by my house with your dog...my yard is not full of fire hydrants, I've paid good money and put a ton of hard work into getting this yard into the shape its in, and I don't appreciate you allowing your dog to do it's business in my flower beds. And last, but not least, while you may love your dog...not everyone does. So keep your dog in your yard, or on a leash because you don't know if there are people who are scared of dogs. Being a responsible dog owner is more than making sure your dog has food and water. Dogs, like children, need discipline and require attention and BOUNDARIES.
The REAL Housewife of Snohomish County's
Dog Park Rules
Dog Park Rules
- Do not give opinions on another person's dog's weight, or anything else for that matter.
- If you are at a dog park know that at some point you will probably be; slobbered on, jumped on, licked, kicked, dust thrown in your face from dogs playing, and more than likely at some point you will step in dog poop. Get over it.
- If your dog is aggressive for any reason, do not take them to a dog park.
- If you still decide to take them, do not expect other people to keep their dogs away from yours.
- Pick up your dog's poop. Yea, it's gross...I hate doing it...but it's your dog.
- Small children really don't belong in a dog park. Dogs get running at full speed and will always run into someone. A child can get hurt quite easily...it's best to take them to a human park later.
- Watch how your dog interacts with others. Just because a dog is growling doesn't mean they are aggressive. There are some dogs that are just "vocal" and it's playful. If their tails are a waggin' chances are they are just playing.
- Watch for play that gets to be a little too much. Cooper loves to run and chase, but when too many dogs team up on him, he gets a little funny. It's best to know your dog's triggers.
- Most dog parks have a dual gate system. Do NOT congregate by the gate, it only makes it harder to control your dog when you are going in or out.
- Have fun! Throw a ball! Pet other dogs! You're at a dog park for goodness sakes!
**Steps off soap box and smoothes out wrinkles on apron.** Until next time...Keep Cooking.