How Do We Protect Ourselves Against Hurt?

An anonymous Golden who looks a bit like Grace,
and a good view of the dog park.

Robert and I took our three rescue dogs to the dog park at Shelby Farms Park this afternoon. Seems half of Memphis decided to do the same. The day was clear, cold and beautiful. While this park is huge, about 100 acres or more, around fifty people and their dogs decided to congregate at one of the nice small ponds with a sand bar and large rocks and benches.

Robert went off on his bike and I kept our dogs on the sparsely populated side of that small pond. Now, our dogs love to fetch and swim in those ponds. There are several ponds out there, but I would have to go past the throng of people and dogs to get to those other ponds. Our dogs were eyeing the dogs on the other side and I knew they would love to run around the pond and go over there with the masses.  But I also know our dogs.  All three are loving and wonderful.  And just like people, they have their sensitive issues. Their past, especially for rescue dogs, never goes away.

Abbey, the 8-yr-old Irish Setter, was kept in a cage the first few years of her life. She loves freedom, but is suspicious of men. She insists on sleeping up on something, like in the leather recliner. She does not like sleeping on the floor on a nice dog bed.  Perhaps she was accustomed to the elevated nature of that cage, as bad as it was, and feels safer up high. Somewhere, perhaps in a cage in a barn far away, she was traumatized by thunder and lightning. When she hears a rumble or a flash, we watch her run to the bathroom and hide behind the sink. That’s her place. She feel safe there, so we let her go. At the dog park, she loves children in particular because of their hands being lower to the ground and she can just walk beside a child and automatically be petted.  She’s lives in a state of gratitude.

Grace, the 8-month-old ash-blonde Golden Retriever, is about the same size as Abbey and similar in temperament, but much more friendly and inquisitive and will follow anyone who is kind to her. Loud noises do not phase her. We’ve had her for about 3 months. When we first took her in as a foster she was sickly, scrawny and had patches of hair missing and bad skin. She’s healthy now, but I’m sure she remembers those lean months of living in the woods with no regular meals. I’m certain she has nightmares about them. Her habits are aggravating, yet somehow endearing. She eats in her crate, while lying down. Protective of her food. She has never met a person she does not like.

Buddy is the third dog, and he’s about 3 years old now. We took him in when he was a few weeks old. The runt of the litter. No one wanted him. The rescue group told us he was a Golden Retriever. Well, he may have some ancestor who was a Golden, but he’s a mix of Yellow Lab, Shar Pei and Chow among others. His favorite thing to do in the world is to run and fetch. But no one touches his backside. This is a very sensitive issue with him.  Even when I give him a bath I am careful not to pull his tail or poke him anywhere “back there”. Over the years, he’s learned to run and play at the dog park and gets along well with people and other dogs.  But today, a man with two young brindle boxers walked by. One of his dogs ran up and sniffed at Buddy’s backside. Buddy was not pleased and barked at the dog. The boxer snarled and there was a brief incident. It was over in a matter of seconds because I grabbed Buddy and put his leash on him and he was fine with me protecting him.  The owner of the two boxers was extremely agitated and yelled at me. “That kind of dog has no right to be here. He should not be allowed in the park!” he bellowed.  I said nothing because there was no use. He kept shouting as he walked on, his dogs trailing behind him. I had all 3 of our dogs in my hands at that time.  He scared them so badly that they were trying to hide behind me. His dogs were still loose and he was still screaming at me as he walked on toward the throng of people.  Some folks walked by. They were silent. I think he scared them too.

I wanted to tell him that Buddy’s backside is a sensitive issue to him. That he must have been abused in early puppyhood.  That he’s otherwise a well-socialized dog, and plays well with others. The man had no intention of having a conversation. Buddy did not attack his dog.  His dog bothered Buddy. Buddy was afraid. I immediately walked the dogs back to our Jeep, because there were three horses coming down that same path.  After their trauma I felt it best to not put them in the way of another potential trauma because they had never been around horses before. And I had been there over an hour and it was time to go. Usually we have to pick Buddy up and put him in back of the vehicle.  But not this time. As soon as I opened the hatchback door, he jumped in. Followed immediately by Abbey and Grace. They were sticking by their Buddy.

Most of our experiences at the dog park have been wonderful.  Today was the only incident that made for an unpleasant time there. For I believe the two boxers just wanted to play and they would have gone on down the path with no further incident.  I believe it was their owner who caused the incident.

What would you have done?


3 responses to “How Do We Protect Ourselves Against Hurt?

  1. The Guy sounds like a real jerk. Mean people should not be allowed in the park.


  2. Well don't forget it. The arrogant, agitated man with pretense of doing right, truly could have cared less of the situation. Obviously, his MO is to intimidate. You fell for it by packing up. Keep telling the story, look around for him, and write about it more and maybe it will get back to him. (send a letter to the newspaper, e.g.) An encounter would provide a blessing!!! Meanwhile, return to the dog park and joyfully take advantage of all its offerings. If there is difficulty in that transpiring, find me his name and I'll call on him – tee hee! if only for the sake of his dogs. . .


  3. I admire you tremendously for not responding. I'm afraid I would have sunk right down to his level and let him have it. You took the high road and turned the other cheek. If you run into him again in the park, just smile your brightest smile and say “Hello, good to see you again!” He will be taken off guard and maybe will be slightly reformed.

    I so appreciate your comment about rescue dogs and their issues. I have one whose rough past has caused many OCD habits that simply cannot be trained away – I've tried everything. He adores me and I him … no one else though.


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