At the dog park

Tierce and I head to the dog park fairly often now that it is light after 5 PM, when I get off from work.  Tierce has his own schedule that he adheres to reasonably reliably.

1)  Run out of the gate and inspect all the dogs in the dog park

2)  Go to the far end of the dog park and poop.

3)  Sniff more dogs

4)  Go back for another poop (I’ve learned that it usually takes two or even three bags before he’s finished depositing everything)

5)  Wander around desultorily.  Occasionally chase a ball, grab a stick, play chase with another dog.

6)  Follow me around.  This feels weird.  He’s a Shiba; he should be resolutely ignoring me.

7)  Intermittently check out new dogs that have come into the park

8)  Follow me around (I usually head out to the mid field and he will run after me and stick around while I walk about.  Occasionally I will dodge behind groups of people or the shelter or hide near a gate and watch him look for me.)

9)  Finally plant himself in front of me, smile in my face and indicate as much as possible without actual words, “I’m ready to go home now.”

I can lose hours in the dog park.  I love to watch dogs running – there’s something so there in their character and expression.  I believe a dog running is the closest we get to a physical manifestation of the concept “the now”.  Occasionally at the dog park Tierce obliges this fancy by running the full length of the field with other dogs.

Parks & Rec Come Through!

All the benches are showing tightly placed planks and a new coat of paint!  Thanks, Nanaimo Parks & Rec!

Dear Richard and Jeff,

Tierce and I visited the dog park today and found that the benches had been fixed and are even sporting a new coat of paint!  I am very impressed with the celerity with which you addressed my concerns about the benches.  By the way, Tierce is fully recovered from his accident. Thank you both again.

Julie MacTire

************

Wow great photo and thank you emailing us back.

It is a great help to us when we know of issues and users of facilities let us know plus ideas on how to make things better. Many times we just don’t know something has happened or that something is a problem so thank you for letting us know in a constructive and positive way. Our Parks crews take great pride in our facilities and if they know something act very fast.

What a great day to be out in the parks!

Richard.

Hurrah for squeaky wheels!

All benches should have planks too close for a little paw or leg to slide through.

Hurrah!  Remember this post?  I sent a letter to the Parks and Rec Department of Nanaimo about it.  (Richard Harding is the director of Parks, Recreation and Culture and my new best friend)

Dear Mr. Harding,

My name is Julie MacTire and I got your email address from the City of Nanaimo website.  I am writing to you about an incident that happened last Sunday (January 31) at the Nanaimo dog park.  My small dog jumped up on one of the park benches that happened to have widely spaced planks and his right hind leg slipped through when he tried to jump down and got caught.  This has caused a severe muscle strain, perhaps some tearing in the affected leg that is taking him some time to get over.

As a result, I’ve become concerned about those benches that have widely spaced planks.  While we discourage our dogs from jumping up on these seats, it happens sometimes before the owner can warn the dog away.  Also, there are a number of parents with small children who keep their children on the seats to avoid an accidental collision with rambunctious dogs and I fear they could be at risk of an accident as well.

I am wondering if you can give me any information as to what I should do to put forth a petition to the City to have the benches replaced or covered by material that prevents small legs from getting stuck.  I would also be interested in taking an active role in fundraising for the modification to the dog park benches if that is a feasible option.

Sincerely,

Julie MacTire

I got this reply early this morning:

Thank you Julie for your email and sorry to hear about your dog.

I have copied your email to Jeff Ritchie who is Senior Manager of Parks who will get in touch with you.

I am sure we can work something out to modify the benches.

Thanks Julie.

Richard

Then, just now, I recieved this from Mr. Ritchie, another new best friend:

Julie, thanks for pointing this out to us. I hope your pooch is recovering. We will replace the boards on these benches with wider planks so as to prevent this happening again. Thanks for your e-mail.

Wow!  I was expecting… I don’t know, a long time between emails… an argument… certainly not a prompt response that promised immediate attention.  I don’t want to carol the City of Nanaimo’s praises too loudly until the benches are actually fixed, but if their maintenance department is anything like their standard for communication, I think this issue will be resolved very quickly.

I wrote back to each gentleman, thanking them for their timely response to my email and attention to the matter.

So far, this is a great example of the things that can be done if you bring the attention of the powers-that-be to issues in your local dog park with a polite letter.

Thank you Julie for your email and sorry to hear about your dog.

I have copied your email to Jeff Ritchie who is Senior Manager of Parks who will get in touch with you.

I am sure we can work something out to modify the benches.

Thanks Julie.

Richard

Beware park benches!

We had a disturbing incident today at the dog park.  Tierce loves jumping up on the benches and until an hour ago, I didn’t have a problem with this.

Unfortunately, this time, he jumped up and got his leg stuck between the slats.  This picture isn’t a great example because this bench has slats close together, but some of the benches have slats further apart.

I was watching Tierce play halfway across the field, but didn’t see when he leaped up onto the bench.  I and everyone else heard him, though, when he jumped down and  his right hind leg fell through the slats.

For a horrible moment, I was running towards him, screaming, “TIERCE!  TIERCE!  TIERCE!  TIERCE!”  Like all Shibas can, when the need arises, he screamed like a piercing train whistle and about five people ran to save him.

I must say now that I’m very proud of my little boy, because despite having his leg wrenched, he did not bite or try to bite anyone who picked him up or held him or fed him treats (as one gentlemen did – Tierce gobbled down the treat and went back to screaming).  He was a very good boy.

I called Mischa to drive us home, because I didn’t want to carry Tierce all the way there, nor did I want to make him walk/hop home.  Once he got home, he was able to weight bear, so we’re not rushing him to the vet right away, but he’s not going running or for long walks for a few weeks.  He’s sleeping on the couch right now, a very demoralized Shiba.

I’d like to approach the City about having the benches covered at my own expense, but I’m not sure if this will be allowed.  Perhaps a letter?  I’m not sure; I’ll have to look into it some more.  Tierce shouldn’t necessarily have been on the benches, but he’s not the only dog that jumps up there and perhaps this will keep things a little safer.

Dog Park Pinball

Dog park pinball is a game usually played with two or three dogs and four or five humans, other dogs and natural features.  The object of the game is to strike as many point-bearing goal posts (the humans) with penalties incurred for striking other dogs and more or less unforgiving features of the dog park, including, but not limited to the fence, the picnic table, the shelter, trees, buckets, the water spigot, the garbage cans and the pick-up bag dispenser.

No human knows what purpose this game serves in the greater scheme of things, or the exact nature of the rules.  However, the rules (insofar as I can make them out) are as follows:

The game can begin as early as when a dog is released into the dog park.

If a dog shows an inclination for wrestling, the game can begin as soon as the preliminaries are completed (sniffing, milling around the entrance/exit gates, etc.)

The dogs engaging in the game are to run a course that will most efficiently hit as many knees as possible.

Extra points are given if the person loses their balance.

More points are given on a sliding scale, based on the inverse proportions of the dog and human.  Therefore, a small dog gets more points for staggering a larger human, while a larger dog gets less points for throwing a smaller human off balance.

Colliding with three or more people in quick succession gets triple bonus points.

While wrestling or chasing one another around a specific human can result in hitting the knees, the act of circling the human is not in itself point-worthy.

Running into a dog that doesn’t appreciate the sport of Dog Park Pinball results in the loss of points.

Running into something solid, like the fence, results in the loss of points.

Running into something wet, like a water dish or mud, results in the loss of points only if a bath is threatened by the dog’s owner.

The game can end at any time, whether because one is removed from the dog park or because one loses interest.

Tierce is Back in the Dog Park

Tierce and Riley, a Rottweiler that Tierce has known ever since he started going to the dog park.

Tierce and Riley, a Rottweiler that Tierce has known ever since he started going to the dog park.

We have been instituting a gradual reintroduction program to the dog park for Tierce and I’m happy to say that it’s working so far.  The neutered Tierce is a lot calmer and less aggressive than the testosterone filled Tierce.

I started with bringing Tierce to the dog park and allowing him to meet the dogs from outside the fence.  This didn’t provoke any aggression.  Neither did having him run loose in the small dog run adjoining the bigger dog park when there were no dogs in the small run.

A week ago, I tried introducing him into the dog park with a bunch of bigger dogs.  Tierce has been a bully in the past, so I thought bigger dogs would be able to handle themselves should any tendencies towards this resurface.  I’m happy to say that they didn’t.

Tierce is now much calmer and more able to react positively to the different personalities that can be found in the dog park.  I noticed the second time that he was getting stressed by a dog that kept following him and barking at him, so I called Tierce over and told the other dog to go play with some of the other dogs.  Tierce seemed to calm right down and the other dog didn’t bother him again, but we went home soon after, just so Tierce didn’t get too stressed.

Tierce running with some of the other dogs.

Tierce running with some of the other dogs.

Tierce was playing today with some other dogs and didn’t show a lot of temperament, even when a couple of bigger dogs were targeting him for some rough play.  I did call him once, but while he did head towards me, he didn’t show too much stress.  I’m hoping to get him to the point where he realizes that the best thing he can do if he is stressed or if a bigger dog is bullying him, is to head to me.

He is also making strides in the toy aggression area.  While he is attracted to sticks and balls, he isn’t as insistent that he have them and can deal with another dog grabbing them.  And, in the case of Riley (above picture), he was reminded that some dogs have ‘their’ ball and woe betide the dog who thinks it’s up for negotiation.  (Riley has an impressive roar!)

Tierce playing with a new friend.

Tierce playing with a new friend.

I’m really happy, because this gives us the opportunity to chisel a couple pounds off of the 27 that Tierce has some how managed to get to.  25 or thereabouts is probably ideal for him; 23 is on the thin side, but I do not want him to get fat and it’s getting hard to feel his ribs.  On that subject, walks are probably not a bad thing for me, either.

Rambling Post from SuperSickShibaPerson

Well, Nanaimo finally got some snow and I’m sick.  I’d like to say “sick as a dog”, but Tierce has been disgustingly healthy.  Well, that was before he barfed up some bile in the car, when my boyfriend decided to take him to the dog park to run around.  Tierce and the dog park are not always compatible, as my boyfriend found out when Tierce decided to take offense at a Shepherd/Rottweiler mix who promptly pinned him down and gave him a smacking.  Not to be deterred, Tierce decided to launch a full offensive, only to be separated from his bemused antagonist by Boyfriend and the other dog’s owner.

cloak-005Sometimes Tierce gets on alright with other dogs; sometimes not.  However, in the dog park, there are 2 acres that he could be deciding to fight another dog in and that just doesn’t do it for me.  I might try him out after he’s neutered, but I’m still leery of it.  Neutering doesn’t always “fix” all the aggression and dominance issues some Shibas have.  Tierce is much better one-on-one with other dogs, or with females (surprise, surprise).

And my boyfriend isn’t planning on taking Tierce back to the dog park.  Amazingly enough, the owner of the other dog was frantically apologizing, probably the result of having a large, strong dog with obvious guarding breed ancestry.  Boyfriend, bless his heart, said, “Why are you apologizing?  My dog was being an asshole and deserved whatever he got!”

Tierce was fine, by the way, which was a good thing, as that dog could have seriously taken a chunk out of him had he wanted to, from Boyfriend’s description.  I’m wondering if there really is some kind of “small dog syndrome”.  I’ve heard owners of Rottweilers and APBT talk about it – small dogs going for their dogs for no apparent reason (often while their owners wring their hands and accuse the owner of the attacked dog for having a vicious monster).

Either way, Tierce is not going back into the dog park for a long, long time.  Now my boyfriend knows why I generally don’t let him in there unless there are no other dogs (although that’s tricky, because someone could come in with their dog at any moment).  All’s well that ends well, but things can be better when they don’t happen in the first place.

And, no, that picture above has nothing to do with the subject of today’s treatise; it’s just a cute picture of Tierce on the SCA garb my brother scored off of Craigslist for me.