So, Cali got into a small scuffle at the dog park today. This is usually a rare occurrence. Cali is a female mix of Pit Bull and Border Collie. She is completely harmless, but on occasion, when another dog gets in her space, she will let them know in a defensive way not to go there.
For the most part, I enjoy going to the dog park. The people are nice and 98 percent of the dogs are not aggressive or dominant. I always scope out “the scene” when entering the park. With anything in life, there are always a few bad apples within a crowd. Today the park was full and I was feeling a slight vibe of doggie trouble.
My dogs are social, but we tend to keep to ourselves as they are more interested in tennis balls instead of chasing around other dogs. While taking a break, Cali laid in the shade enjoying her time at the dog park. From the herds of circling dogs, a mix German Shepard came up to Cali. Without even blinking twice, I knew there was going to be a fight. Within thirty seconds, this dog was in Cali’s face and she instantly went into defense mode. The scuffle only lasted a few seconds as I shouted “Hey, Hey,” but the confrontation was aggressive enough for either dog to sustain a injury. Luckily my sixth sense kicked in to breakup the fight so this was not to case.
The part that irritates me Is the owners of this German Shepard were no where to be found. This dog is a dominated Alpha dog and should be supervised at all times. To me personally, this is dog ownership irresponsibility. Most dog owners, actually almost all, stay close and watch their dogs freely roam the park. But, there’s always a few in the crowd that think there dogs are perfect and don’t cause trouble. These are the dogs that do get into doggie scuffles! PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR DOG! And that’s my two and a half cents on dog park etiquette.
The other morning, like most mornings, I took Patches and Cali to the dog park. Their barks grew louder as we approached the park while I was singing to songs from the radio marketed to fourteen year old’s. This is our daily routine. Going to the dog park each day is not only necessary, but it is vital for our serenity.
The two gremlins bolted out of their crates in all their glory, waiting no time to chase the meaning of life in the form of a tennis ball. We walked around the park making the rounds. I said hello to the regulars while nodding to people I did not know. The dog park always has a tendency to put me in a state of balance and well-being.
While chucking the ball back and forth for my four legged kids, a dog came up to me. He was such a friendly dog. This particular dog was extremely happy; living in the moment the way all dogs do. I called him “Charlie” (which he responded to for some odd reason). I threw the ball for him and he came back giving me a “ruff” along with the wag of his tail for approval. After a few tosses, Charlie went on his merry way.
After finishing our routine, I looked for Charlie and his owner. That was the strange thing. No Charlie. No owner. That’s because when Charlie left, he walked back into heaven. He was my Charlie. Charlie passed away three years ago at the age of six from cancer. He just came down from heaven to tell the dogs and I he was OK. And that night, the dogs and I slept well, knowing Charlie was OK.
Charlie (left) last picture ever taken with Patches.
Prelude to my next article on the dog sport we call flyball. My dog, Patches, has been through hell and back with me. During all this time, he has played in over 30 flyball tournaments, traveled over 150,000 miles in six states, has had the record time for Australian Cattle Dogs, and is finally retiring with over 20,000 points as a Top Flight Expert Dog. I wouldn’t know what to do without him.
This morning, while walking the gremlins, I ran into a gentleman I knew from recovery. He obviously relapsed. I could smell the alcohol leaking through his pores. He looked like he had been in a fight with stitches on his face, along with being up from the night before. I took the opportunity to sit down with my friend on a bench in the town square park. As AA teaches, I made an effort to help him out, from one alcoholic to another. I pulled out a picture of patches on my cell phone and asked, “What’s the same about you and my dog in this picture?” He could not answer as he took a swig off a vodka bottle. “You are both stuck in the mud.” I informed him. Then I asked, “What’s the difference between you and Patches?” Again, no answer, just another swig. “That dog is happy being in the mud!”
I have gotten to the point in life where I believe this 4.5 cents of wisdom is helpful in my new found life. Alcohol and drugs are really not a solution when being stuck in the mud and muck from the stresses of life. Sh*t is going to happen on a daily basis. With that, we can take on our own fears and insecurities (without picking up) that confronts all of us with a serene, open mind and be happy just like my dog in mud. I told my friend I loved him, and will be praying that our conversation will make sense to him one day in the future.
I was going to write something on “vacations for doggies” but that will have to wait. I am in a “transitional period” and with that comes reflection. I just wanted to reflect on my dog, Patches. He has been with me for almost 10 years, he’s a world champion flyball dog, and is coming near retirement. I am grateful for him as he sits here gracefully. (**
Going for a ride.
As most dog lovers realize; dogs are routine creatures. They prefer their walks to be at a certain time every day, when they wake up and go to bed, their meals and snacks served etc. Now, consistency and routine can go right out the front the window when I used to get high. When I was high, my dogs also suffered tremendously. They did not receive that extra attention and love; as my mind would be some place out, usually on Loony Tune Planet.
Believe it or not, when my addiction took over my soul, it had also taken over Cali’s and Patches. Patches, more so, because, as an ACD, he is so dam sensitive towards me, he knew immediately when I was not right. For example, he would come up to my nose, smelling out the synthetic chemicals I just had ingested. Patches would give me that sad look “Why did you do that to yourself today, daddy?” And the rest routine for that day would go to shit, as Patches and Cali would suffer. In fact, Cali wanted no part of this self-destructive behavior and go hide in the bedroom for the rest of the day as I slumped around the barren house like a zombie.
We (as loyal dog owners) must always remember, our dogs are our children. And if for some reason when things such as addiction get in the way, we usually don’t attend to their proper needs. The dogs are truly harmed in both a mental and physical way. As the drugs were aging me, I could also see it in the dogs, especially Patches, who is now nine years old. All that guilt and shame builds up over the years, and before I went to rehab in Thailand, I almost lost them for good. That feeling of disconnection and lost will never leave me. Each day, I continue to grow, and return to the normal world of sobriety. This is a long journey of salvation (as Patches is a top champion flyball and dock dog, and Cali is off to great start at frisbee and flyball at three years old) with many positive days ahead, as the routine is back in place, and the three of take on the world together again. (**