The (Not-So) Mean Girl at the Dog Park

Cali and Ronen play tug with a very small stick
Cali and Ronen play tug with a very small stick

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Cali’s unfortunate experience with a mean girl at the park. The mean girl has been back, and I think she really was just having an off day. An off couple of weeks, maybe.

Not long after she bullied Cali, I saw her go after a sweet older gentleman, a Labrador, who was lying down and minding his own business. A toy that Ms. Meanie wanted bounced too close; he must have moved to get it, and she was on him in a flash. Her dad reacted quickly and took her out of the park. Someone who was there commented that she’d done the same thing to a different dog earlier that week.

At this point, I was gunning for this dog. They’d better not bring her back to this park, I fumed.

Well, the dog came back. We had just arrived at the park when I saw them come in. My first instinct was to leash up the girls and leave. On the way out, I wandered over to a friend to chat for a moment. I said I didn’t feel comfortable with that dog there, and we talked about the best way to handle the Situation as we watched the mean girl.

She was playing energetically with Ronen, a sweet, goofy, year-old big male Labrador. Her hackles were up, and she was being very assertive, but not aggressive or even inappropriate. She played with a few other dogs, while I kept Jana and Cali close and on leash. She’s young, assertive, and high-energy, but she definitely wasn’t showing aggression or even bad manners. I finally decided to be a grown-up and actually talk to the mom.

She apologized for the Cali incident, and we talked about the other incidents and what to do about resource guarding. She said that they had signed the dog up for training  classes (hooray!), and they had exposed her to lots of other dogs for supervised play. They were working hard on a solid recall. The dog had been grumpy / reactive several times over a period of a couple of weeks, the mom said, but hadn’t had issues before or since. It sounds to me as if they are doing everything right, and they really care. I wish more dog parents were as concerned.

I’m still wary of this dog, but Cali seems to have completely let the incident go. She’s always thrilled to be at the park, happily plays with or alongside other dogs, and shows no fear of this or any other dog.

I need to learn from her: No grudges. Cali might well pick up on my anxiety about this dog, and I can create a problem where, at the moment, none exists. Wouldn’t we all be better off if we could learn to move on as effortlessly as our dogs do?