Thursday, March 17, 2011

At the Doggie Park

There's no coffee and cookies when I arrive at Rancho Laguna Park outside San Franscisco. I guess that's because none of the dogs gathered is celebrating a birthday. And, numbers are reduced today because it's cold (35F) and the early morning sun is losing the battle to break through the fog.

On warm mornings when more folks and dogs are out, and there's a canine birthday, free coffee and cookies are available thanks to some of the owners. On really special days in summer there sometimes is wine and cheese.

This is a really neat place. It's small park (8.4 acres) with a walking track and playground, some picnic tables and a grass area on which to romp and toss a Frisbee. The neatest part is how it is shared.

It's a regular park for families, but before 9 a.m. and for a while before dark, dogs are allowed to run here off leash. Water fountains, with the usual tap up above, also have taps near ground level for filling dog bowls, provided by some of the dog owners.

Dogs of all shapes and sizes gather with their owners (all shapes and sizes)  to run, play wrassle, and share some conversation. Some of the dogs, like my granddog Ozzie, are good at vocalization and actually do talk to each other.

There's lots of running and play fighting this morning because of the cold. The only guy sitting on the sidelines is Chester, who is one of those sausage dogs built low to the ground. He looks more cerebral than the others, not inclined to get out on the wet grass and mix it up with the other guys and girls.

One of the owners has brought a tennis racket for knocking out balls to chase. Another has a tossing hook that launches tennis balls across the park.

The best entertainment comes from Bella, a fox terrier who tears around after a red ball the size of a grapefruit. He refuses to let other dogs use it, and chases off any dog that tries.

Ozzie and Lucy, an Australian shepherd, spend most of their time play mauling each other. They are both young, met here as puppies and have become best play pals. Another pal, Zipper, won't be here for a while because he's off being neutered.

There's a bad scene just before play time is over. Mango, who's a bit of a miscreant, ran out of the park and into the street, taking three others, Ozzie included, with him. They all came back when called.

Obviously there is a strict poop-and-scoop policy here. Supplies of poop bags are found on posts, although many owners bring their own. Also, dogs are expected to be "well socialized." I get the impression that one who isn't would not be welcomed. Neither would his or her owner.

It shows. All the dogs get along, have fun and get plenty of needed exercise. The city of Moraga, which operates the park, spends almost nothing because of the dogs.

There's a lesson here: Good things can happen when people work together, and when government co-operates but doesn't try to micro-manage everyone's lives. The dogs set the tone here. There's little barking and lots of tail wagging.

That's what the world needs: More wag, less bark.

Gathering of the dogs at Rancho Laguna

Ozzie takes a drink at the fountain

1 comment:

  1. Very nice blog. Enjoyed it very much. The park is a wonderful place for dog owners.