Bark park trip reveals why dogs love it (or don’t)

By P.J. Standlee

Dogs go to the park for the same reasons their owners do: to play, to socialize, even to show off.

Having been to a few specialized parks with my dog, Poligy, and my girlfriend, Veronica, I’ve noticed a few correlations in dog behavior.

Last Sunday, we decided to take Poligy to Pecos Dog Park, just at the south end of 48th Street. The park boasts two acres of fenced ground with separate areas for small and large visitors; it affords more than enough room for our four-legged friends to roam off the leash and let loose some of the energy they’ve stored up during these not-so-dog-days of summer.

The majority of canines in the park spent most of their time either (A) running in circles and play biting or (B) sniffing out newcomers.

A large water fountain gave the dogs enough water to quench their thirst and frustrate owners who wanted to keep their dogs dry and clean.

And for the dogs who rather would have stuck close to their humans and socialized, plenty of dog friendly owners were ripe for petting.

The dog park is also a great place to see dogs of all sizes and personalities. One can expect to see almost any breed, from retrievers and collies to the larger Rottweilers or boxers.

Take for instance Kyrene Corridor resident Steve Martin’s two sweet-hearted and large Rottweilers, Tyson and Dante.

While both Tyson and Dante are intimidating in their size, the two happily greeted newcomer dogs and owners alike. Mindful of their size, both played gently with the other dogs. Well aware of his dog’s tendencies to ignore him, Martin closely watched over his two-year-olds.

This brash socializing, Martin said, makes some owners weary; however, he says, children love to investigate and play with the gentle giants.

“For them, it’s more for socializing,” Martin said about his two dogs. “I think they like people more than I like dogs.”

Martin added that the dog park is as much for the owners as it is for the dogs.

“It’s great because it gives them the ability to interact other dogs,” Martin said. Some people are understandably weary of Rottweilers. Getting a chance to know Dante and Tyson helps some of them overcome that generalization, Martin said.

Surprisingly, with a just a little effort to curb any over-enthusiastic guests, dog parks like the one on Pecos are havens for large and small dogs alike. In the city, dogs of all kinds can come together for companionship and cause a little havoc. 

With this in mind, you would think that my dog, who loves long walks and children and still plays around the house as though she wasn’t 14 years old, would love the chance to stretch her legs.

Sadly this wasn’t the case for Poligy, who turns out to have a bit of social anxiety complex around large groups of dogs.

Bottom line of her trip to dog park: She hated it, and spent most of her time avoiding dogs and humans alike.

Despite our efforts to encourage her to reach out to her fellow canines, Poligy rolled her eyes and stubbornly sat down, refused to drink water, and made great efforts to show her displeasure.

It just goes to show that one dog’s idea of heaven can be another one’s hell.

But we will continue to enjoy dog parks despite Poligy’s protests, as it gives us a good opportunity to meet new and interesting dogs. I guess Poligy will just have to learn a few new tricks.