Beaumont’s happy place is at the park, off leash, running free to play with all his friends.
Puppies recognize puppies. They have an innate ability to detect a dog of similar age, regardless of size, and intuitively fall into a play pattern that accommodates any discrepancy in girth and stature to allow for a joyful game of wrestle, chase and roll.
Watching puppies play is fun. Watching their owners watching their puppies at play is even more fun!
We stand in groups of two or three, watching our canines roll and rumble, talking about their strengths, their idiosyncrasies and the sometimes not so great things they do. We commiserate, share tips and the not so great advice we’ve received on how to avoid household messes, chewed up slippers and other losses of puppydom.
And all the while, our pups are oblivious to us watching them. They are 100% immersed in the joy of play as we stand watching and laughing and commenting on how we wish the world could operate like dogs at a park. Fluid. Fun. Friendly.
Dogs meet. Sniff. Play a little. Move on. Meet. Sniff. Play a little. Move on. They check out a smell here, a butt there without too much concern for whose butt is whose. They don’t really care what their humans think. They are totally consumed with being present in the now, experiencing everything that is going on, soaking up every ounce of joy in the moment.
Watching Beaumont play with his friends has taught me many things about rules for being a dog — and a human. First and foremost,
Some other rules for being a dog:
- It’s the play in the dog that makes the difference, not the size. Don’t say no to a play invitation just because you think you’re too big, or small. Adjust your play-pattern to accommodate discrepancies in size and let the smaller one lead the way.
- Don’t let age weigh you down. Dogs can be like humans. The older they get, the less playful and more grumpy they can be. Find a playmate who has not yet succumbed to the weight of age.
- Pay attention. Always greet your playmate as if you haven’t seen them for a thousand years, even if you just played with them at the other end of the park 15 minutes ago. Make them feel like they have 100% of your attention.
- Life is fluid. If another canine runs in to join the fray, it’s okay to stop and give them some attention. Check out if one of you wants to divert your play to the newcomer. If your playmate finds another, don’t fuss. Carry on and be joyful. There’s always another pup for play at the park.
- Be whole-hearted. Use your whole body, mind and spirit when playing with another. It’s okay to stick your head in your playmates mouth. It’s okay to let them stick their’s in yours. Just remember, this is play. Be joyful. Be gentle of mouth. Be playful of spirit.
- Life is a dance of reciprocity. It’s okay to let another pup lie on top of you and chew your ear. It’s okay to lie on top of another pup and chew their ear too.
- Trust your human. Your job is to play, completely. Your human’s job is to decide when the play is getting too rough. It’s their job to keep you safe and unharmed.
- Make someone laugh whenever possible. Your job at the park is to give your human lots of reasons to laugh. It makes it easier on you when you don’t listen to them calling if they’re laughing because laughing makes them feel better and they’ll be less inclined to make you sit and stay and do all those boring training things they think are so important. And, bonus! They’ll stay longer at the park when they’re laughing.
Beaumont thinks we go to the park for him. Truth is, we go for the joy of it.
Watching pups play makes my heart feel light. And bonus! I get to meet like-minded people and spend time in the fresh air.