I’m in a routine of going to the dog park most every evening to let my babies run and play. Apparently, lots of us dog owners are creatures of habit, because I always see the same people there, including a friendly regular in her 60s named Ginger.
I’d been bringing my baby Kaiah to the park for a while and recently introduced Grayson, my newest baby, to this routine.
Grayson’s looks can be intimidating. At 75 pounds with a huge head, enormous paws and a thick gray coat of fur, most people actually think he is a wolf. They soon learn, however, that he is a gentle giant, as he tends to run away when other dogs (no matter the size) bark at him.
During his first trip to the dog park, a Chihuahua actually chased him around the park. Grayson ran with his tail between his legs, continually looking back to see if the dog was still coming. Once he figured out that it was play, he started romping around with the other dogs and he'd bark in hopes they would chase him.
As it happens with dogs, a couple of them figured it was time to show Grayson they were the boss — by humping him.
And, at first, Grayson just stood there with a look like, "What the heck is going on."
One of the dogs was Max, a very large, 70-pound Labradoodle, who belonged to Ginger.
Usually when she is leaving, she says her goodbyes to everyone and casually leaves. During one of Grayson’s first visits, we were all sitting there and witnessed Max’s first "encounter" with Grayson.
At this time, they were just jumping and kind of wrestling with each other. Grayson thought it would be OK to "mouth" like dogs do, and while doing this, Ginger turned and saw it. Her mouth gaped open; her eyes got huge and she said, "Look at his teeth! He really is a wolf. Come on Max! Let's get out of here. He'll rip your lungs out!"
She reached down, grabbed Max's collar, and left the dog park in a hurry. The whole way down the sidewalk she was saying, "Those teeth are huge! He really can rip a lung out!"
The three of us that were left there were laughing hysterically — to the point of tears. It really didn't help when Ginger was backing out, still yelling the same things from inside her vehicle.
Author's note: Ginger later realized that it was Grayson’s intimidating looks that "freaked" her out, not his personality. Now, she is one of the first to tell newcomers that he is a big teddy bear — or a sheep in wolf's clothing.
Find your nearest dog park:
- , 3051 Garrison Road, Dunedin. Happy Tails is city-owned park divided into separate areas for large and small dogs, equipped with litter bags, picnic tables, doggie water fountains, dog training and exercise equipment and shade trees. Open from 7 a.m. to sunset.
- Doggie Paws at Crest Lake Park, 201 S Glenwood, Clearwater. This is a city-owned park that offers three fenced-in areas, benches and restrooms.
- Enterprise Dog Park, 2671 Enterprise Road, Clearwater. Enterprise is on 20-acres, equipped with separate fenced areas, trails, an agility course, doggie water fountains, litter bags and a dog wash area. Open from sunrise to sunset.