Thursday, November 09, 2006

A lot of people ask about Penny's scar. Well, let me tell ya a little story. Penny & Sherman & I used to go to this great dog place, Misty Pines. For the entire summer after we got Penny, we'd go every Saturday, pay $10 and watch the dogs run & have a ball. I liked the place b/c it was very rare that an aggressive dog was present. And if it were, it was swiftly escorted (along w/ it's clueless owner) out of the dog park.

One gorgeous late September morning, we got to Misty Pines to find a packed house...probably 50 dogs were there. I thought it was great...lots of dogs for them to play with! (I was really, really dumb back then). Everyone moved their dogs away from the gate, I walked in & let both dogs off leash. Sherman ran to the first tree to start his patroling & Penny took off at 100 miles an hour in hopes of finding someone to play her favorite game...Chase Me! Well...Chase Me, they did. About 15 dogs took off after her, knocked her into the fence & when I turned around to see where she was (I had been watching Grumpapotomus, Sherman), a 6" x 6" flap of skin was ripped from her body. It was just hanging there. I could see her muscle and some rib bones. And it was bleeding, a lot.

I screamed, but no one seemed to notice. Penny was surrounded by all of these dogs, still trying to play with her and she was petrified. I started yelling "Everyone get your dogs!!" and started pushing away all of the dogs out of my way until I got to her and started to lead her to the gate. The owners were all still clueless, talking and laughing and thinking their dogs were playing. I turned to the guy next to me, in tears & shaking, and said "YOU'VE GOT TO HELP ME!!" He took one look at Penny and said "What do you want me to do???". Truly, I wanted to punch him. "Get these dogs away from us so we can get out of here!!!!!". He half-assed moved tried to move the dogs out of the way. Fortunately, our dog park friend Nicole, realized what was happening & totally took control of the situation. She cleared a path for us & we got outside of the fence.

To make a long story short, Penny was rushed to the Vet (by me, who was having a partial heart attack on the way). They put her under to clean her, remove all of the metal shavings & then they stitched her up. She came home the same day with the instructions of wearing a T-shirt every day to prevent licking the wound for the next 6 weeks. We spent a sleepless night on the floor in the right next to her just trying to help her get comfortable. By the end of 6 weeks when the stitches came out, we realized her modeling career was over. She was permantly flawed.

Unfortunately, in more ways than one. She became exceptionally dog aggressive when on leash...lashing out at any dog within 1/2 a mile of her. I tried to take her back to Misty Pines after she healed and she almost pulled me down in the parking lot trying to get at another dog. We left and I cried the whole way home & immediately called my friend Debby to help us get over the aggression. She started us out on the right path & 3 years later, Penny is a Canine Good Citizen & a Certified Therapy Dog. But it took a LOT of work...a whole LOT!

My point being...Dog Parks are great. They are a wonderful outlet for dogs to be play , run just be dogs. BUT, please, please observe the environment before you enter the dog park. Know your dog's stress level. Watch the other dogs in the park. How do they play? Is it compatable with your dog? Are the owners watching their dogs or are they chatting on their cell phone? Are the owners attentive to their dogs? Are they watching their dogs & stopping any inappropriate behavior? Do they even know what behavior is inappropriate?

There is nothing wrong with taking your dog home if a bunch of asshole owners & their out of control dogs are ruining a good time for your dog. Now is not the time to take a stand & say "Well my dog is the well behaved dog & we're staying!" . Put your dog first.

Honestly, I trust the dogs Waaayyy more than the people.