By Rosalie Tirella
I’ve owned dogs – four to be exact! – for years – 23 years to be exact! What has surprised me about me and dogs: I LOVE THEM – THEY ARE AND HAVE BEEN ONE OF THE MOST JOYFUL PARTS OF MY LIFE! They bring the natural world into your life so deeply; they are uncannily intuitive; they are great, fun loving companions. My two dogs, Jett and Lilac, go everywhere with me. I mean EVERYWHERE! They jump into the jalopy with me and are my extra layer of skin all day – the buffer that makes it easier to glide through life. They are my exclamation point at the end of a happy moment! They pull me out of funks. Everyone should own a dog. They are life changers – like raising kids, like taking care of an elderly/sick parent, like birth/death….What they teach you, allow you to experience, runs deep!
They love to run! Or walk or trot or … prance. Get a dog and walk him or her every day and you’ll lose 10, 15 pounds EASY. I WILL HAVE A DOG – EVEN IF IT’S A TINY TEA CUP POODLE IN MY DOTTY OLD AGE – UNTIL THE DAY I DIE. Most dog owners feel the same way.
I have friends who are dog crazy too and have shared their dog stories with me through the years.
Here are some of my personal pup ideas/tips – mostly learned from experience (plus a few gleaned from my pals’ pup “tales” ). They are for our esteemed Worcester City Council to “chew on” as it comes up with a dog park plan – in earnest this time around. For the city. For the dogs – especially those without a fenced-in back yard, our canine heroes who adjust to cramped, concrete-filled inner-city life with a wag of their tails because they love their masters so much and because dogs, if raised with love, are naturally ebullient, optimistic souls!
It’s only taken the City of Worcester 10 years to get serious about building dog parks. And believe me: build them and dogs and their owners will come! Wiggle your bums everyone, wag your tails everybody!!! Be like a pup!
1. Build 2, 3 or even 4 municipal dog parks:
one for toy/small dogs
another for our average mutts
another for our senior/older dogs or dogs with disabilities/cancer
and another for big/or very athletic/ very strong dogs
Dogs follow pack rules and spend much of their lives negotiating and renegotiating their rank in the pack. Usually, the strongest and biggest and smartest dog is #1. He or she is in their physical and mental prime: they’re around 3 years old – wicked healthy, fast, and strong and, mentally, they’ve lost their puppy naivete/inexperience but haven’t entered old fart grumpiness. Any dog who meets another dog will immediately work to figure out who’s top dog. If the dogs are well socialized by their owners, this usually involves smelling butts and playing, sometimes a bit rough. Poorly socialized dogs will fight. That’s why the City of Worcester must create fairly level playing fields for the dogs and to “expell” the combative dogs from the dog parks until they are properly socialized.
Greyounds and Huskies have very high prey drive. But they are friendly, nice dogs a la my Jett. HOWEVER, if you mix them with tiny toy dogs, they may think the teeny toy dogs are little, tail-less squirels and give chase, savoring the exhilarating hunt, and kill the little guy or gal. Dogs hunt efficiently. It will be a blood bath but it will be over quick. People will be traumatized; they will be begin calling their lawyers IMMEDIATELY.
My first dog Grace was the sweetest dog in the world. But when I took her to parks, meadows or fields, Grace, in her prime, stopped being my gentle loving companion and became GRACE QUEEN OF THE JUNGLE, huntress extraordinaire. It was like she was in a kind of spell … She ran down and killed: squirrels, chipmunks, mice, woodchucks, skunks!!!, huge crows. She once came back running to me, blood dripping from her muzzle, with what looked to be a big joint…from the pelvis area…I went to the vet. Stop this blood lust! I cried! He said: Impossible, Rose. Gracie has a high high high high prey drive. Walk her on a leash. Which I did. For the next 8 years.
2. All Worcester dog parks dogs MUST HAVE ALL THEIR VACCINES, plus the shot to prevent kennel cough. Dogs, like my friend’s puppy, can die from parvo if they are not vaccinated and run into a dog that has the disease. Kennel cough is catching and painful! The dogs hack and hack and their coughs are deep and painful. One year I didn’t vaccinate Jett against kennel cough – it’s not mandatory unless you board your dog. He caught this doggy flu and was miserable. The vet fixed him up with antibiotics, etc. When Jett felt stronger I got him kc vaccinated.
Spaying or neutering is good, too. Unneutered male dogs are more aggressive – especially with other dogs. Also, two unfixed dogs = a litter of puppies! Ooops! You’re a granny or grandpa!
* The dogs should be walked before entering a dog park – exercised, otherwise they are gonna explode with energy at the park. Ideally, a dog park is for dogs to socialize and have fun with each other.
* Dog owners, be aware! Don’t flirt or gab your way to oblivious-ness. Dog owners are usually as friendly as their dogs – and have fun dog stories to tell. People may even fall in love with each other – or at the very least hook up – at Worcester dog parks! I know years ago, at Institute Park, walking Grace I met a tall handsome guy walking his tall handsome dog and fell head over heels in infatuation – with the guy! Needless to say, for the next two years I walked Grace (off lead) in Institute Park every day looking as cute as I could muster while running after my dog who had a screaming squirrel in his clenched teeth, she had just broken it’s neck! – me screaming DROP THE SQUIRREL GRACE! OH GOD! DROP THE SQUIRREL GRACE!!! A love affair is great, but always keep at least one eye on your dog. She – like you! – works fast and can get herself into trouble! Like you. Fast. Like you.
* Bring water…
… And poop bags. Always clean up after your dog! Sorry to say this writer is sometimes remiss. It is just that I have so much other “shit” in life to deal with! Exhausting. Jett and Lilac are little poop factories, too! Plop. Plop. Icky. BUT I WILL BE GOOD. I WILL BRING SHAWS AND PRICE CHOPPER PLASTIC SHOPPING BAGS to pick up the poo. Promise.
That’s it for now!
Go, Worcester dogs, go!!!