Beaumont and I have a new routine. Every evening we get in the car and drive 10 minutes to River Park. Once there, Beaumont enjoys an hour long off-the-leash frolic and lots of wonderful opportunities to socialize with other dogs (and owners).
He loves it.
River Park is where Ellie the Wunder Pooch and I, as well as Maxie before her, spent countless hours walking and exploring. It has always felt like ‘my park’ and returning to it has been a gift of the puppy kind that simply makes my heart feel light and joyful.
Beaumont gets lots of attention at the park. People are curious about his breed, marvel at his cuteness and are surprised at how social and well-behaved he is for such a young pup. So along with being able to share about what an amazing pup Beau is, it’s also been a great opportunity to observe and learn all about puppy dog etiquette and how to get along, no matter your size, breed or age.
Here are some of the lessons Beaumont and the park have taught me:
- Express your happy self.
If you’re happy to be where ever you’re at, don’t feign coolness or shyness or indifference. Express your happiness. Let your smile be the first thing people see. Greet everyone with a wiggly butt and waggy tail, let them know how happy you are to see them, and let them show you how happy they are to see you. Lap up all the attention and revel in being part of this world of wonder!
2. Don’t let the past shadow the present.
This one is a gift Beaumont gives me every time we encounter another dog. In her latter years, Ellie the Wunder Pooch developed fear-based aggression towards other dogs, especially small white dogs and Wheaton Terriers (how she knew the difference between at Wheaton Terrier and a Pitbull is one of life’s mysteries that will never be solved). It became so uncomfortable that I eventually stopped walking with her at the off leash park and would limit her off leash romps to areas I was fairly confident we would not encounter others.
Beaumont has no such fears. They are all mine. Which means, every time we encounter another dog, especially small ones, I feel my pulse quicken and find myself holding my breath in anticipation of some not so friendly behaviours from my pooch.
I am letting the past shadow the present. I am predicting what will happen in the here and now based on what happened in the there and then of the past. In my negative fortune telling, I am creating my own discomfort.
I am learning to breathe and ease my anxiety through reminding myself, Beau is not Ellie and then is not now. This is the time to stay present and revel in the wonders of this moment right now and all the joy it has to offer.
3. Follow your heart.
If that leaf blowing in the wind is calling you to chase it, chase it! You’re only a pup once and what better time to run in circles, chase your tail or simply follow a leaf blowing in the wind?
You only get so many opportunities to run free, to follow your instincts and explore the world in a safe and caring space that allows you to listen to your heart calling. Sure, you gotta also listen to your mistress and pay attention to when she calls you, but seriously? if that leaf is calling you to chase it, run after it with ears flapping, feet flying and heart pounding in the pure joy of being able to run after a blowing in the wind kind of thing.
And Bonus! You’ll make everyone around you smile and laugh and talk about what a cute puppy you are! You’ll bring people together and melt hearts and break down walls that anywhere else than at the dog park would keep people apart.
4. Always stay close to the ones you love most.
First off, they’re the one who’ve got your treats! They’re also the one’s who are scanning the landscape and watching out for incoming BIG dogs. You know, the one’s who’s legs are soooo tall you can’t see their eyes. The hearts that love you most will always be there for you when that ‘bound over to greet the big ones’ bounce of yours takes you just a bit too far out of your comfort zone, leaving you feeling exposed to who knows what kind of mayhem.
It’s okay to come running back to the one you love the most because they’ll reassure you and help you build your confidence to run off and play some more.
And another BONUS! They’ll always give you a treat when you come running back to them, whether they call you or not!
Stay close to the ones you love the most, their hearts love you most too.