To those new and old readers, the newest love of my life is my dog Bear. I’ve wanted a dog for years. 10+ years, and after getting sick I knew it was time for some pet therapy with a pupper that would get me out and walking. What I didn’t expect was Bear. K and I found him at an animal services shelter near us with bad back legs, practically no muscle in them, yeast infection in his ears, dry and itchy skin etc etc. Of course there was no way we were going to leave him there, so with a quick signing of forms we were taking this one year old chocolate lab home that day, completely unprepared.
The first thing when we get him home and my brother sees him “I thought you said you’d never get a chocolate lab!”
Yes, I said this. K is looking between my brother and I like “WTF is wrong with chocolate labs?” Time would quickly show him why I said I’d never. I should note that having Bear, nothing could take him from me now, I love him to death, even if he may someday be my death.
Energy as high as a husky with less brain power is what K and I like to think when Bear is being, well, Bear. His breed is recommended 2+ hours of exercise a day and to keep anything they can eat out of reach. How do you keep the couch cushions out of reach?!
Now with the title and description of Bear you may be thinking, no! We’re losing Bear! Don’t fret, we are not, we are just struggling with finding the best situation for exercising Bear so that he no longer eats the furniture or tries to eat the cat.
We started with taking him to the dog park a few days a week between rest days of long but relaxing walks for his back legs. He loved it! What can I say, he’s a chocolate lab, he loves everything! The dogs, the people, the toys, the grass, all of it. However his young and boisterous nature, although amazing with the regulars there brought some unwanted attention from the not so regular aggressive dogs.
When we first started going to the park we met two regulars their dogs: Appa and Vinny, who quickly loved the way Bear could tire their pups out, but warned us on weekends they don’t go, some of the other dogs can be less than friendly. We figured we weren’t there often, it would be fine if we just kept him away from any that seemed threatening. He needed the exercise and we live in a tiny apartment with no backyard, we were desperate! However this was short lived.
Far too quickly other dogs started coming on a semi regular basis and would growl, chase and bite at Bears back legs. His bad, no muscle back legs, the ones we were working to grow. Nope, not happening, get your dog away from mine. After one particularly nasty dog wouldn’t leave Bear alone and an owner who just kept repeating “he only plays aggressive until they yelp, then he backs down” while walking away from the fight we decided this was not the best place for Bear. Especially after that encounter he came down with kennel cough. Not only was he being picked on, he had started to pick up on these bad habits and our once shy and happy pup from the shelter had become a barking, jealous mess that chased our cat and rabbit, the two animals he used to love laying around with.
So first good thing gone. We not longer had a big field to run all that pent up chocolate lab energy out of him. We tried multiple long walks but with both of us working night shift, and being human and needing 8 hours of sleep, this wasn’t something we could keep up. Bear needed more than a few long walks a day, he needed to run, to play, to get excited! Somewhere he wasn’t going to annoy the downstairs neighbors or break himself or something else.
During our walks I started to scope out the ideal place to run him that we wouldn’t bother anyone, or at least the least amount of people. A few blocks from home is a park, with three large baseball diamonds mostly fenced, and seemingly dead most days. Not three days into taking Bear there to run and play, first off leash (I know, I know, big no no) then on a lunge line (for horses) when there were dog walkers using the park daily, but with all the distractions and other people there was too much going on to trust Bear not to tear the fence down wanting to play with other dogs who came to the park off leash.
So we moved on and left the other dogs to their own devices. Then K did it, he found the perfect spot! The best thing to happen in months, the best place, it was perfect! There is a baptist church across the street from us, always empty. They have a large field with a fence on three sides and the church and small parking lot on the fourth side.
No distractions, no other dogs and weirdly enough no people! They have a small fully fenced off area for kids with a sign that says no dogs but the rest of their field is nice and fenced, no “no dog” signs for miles. So we tried it out for a few days, figuring we’d leave if the church actually did run in the morning or anyone complained. Weeks go by, no one ever uses this church, some people walk their dogs past the fence and just smile and Bear gets all excited and flips around showing off.
Then school starts. There is a school across the other street from the church and lines of traffic pour by for the 45 minutes to hour that we are there. No one complains, we get lots of smiles and waves. No problems. Some people use the church parking lot to drop their kids off because there is too much traffic out front but no one complains, all smiles.
Not only is this perfect for Bear, but for me as well. I’d been looking for a place I could fit in a quick 10-15 minute work out while exercising Bear, and I could grab my skipping rope or do light yoga while K throws the ball for Bear. I’ve been feeling tons better, Bears exercised and behaving at home, we’re all getting sun and happy.
Now comes the other day. Fifteen minutes into throwing a ball for Bear, Jumping rope in between throws or letting K chase Bear around a car pulls into the parking lot. We’re thinking school drop off, but the school parking lot is empty, so maybe church goers? It’s been weeks, months and we’ve never seen church goers, but we still think, maybe. It’s not a police vehicle or any vehicle that may come with someone to tell us we are not allowed there but we leash Bear anyways, just until we know if they’re staying or going. Out climbs a man who stares us down as I talk to K, continuing to jump rope so that we are not minding their business.
K is getting uncomfortable, this guy just stands by his truck watching. Then out steps a woman, wife, girlfriend etc, and she climbs into the back and brings out a dog on a leash. They stand at the truck and stare at us. I stop skipping and turn in their direction, and decide that it be best we leave. K feels the same way and starts walking across the lot towards home. This couple eyeballed us until we reached the field, never saying hi or smiling while holding their dog and one of those whip it sticks for throwing balls.
I attempted a smile when I had finished skipping, before we started to leave, but nothing. As we leave, they take their dog to where we had been and let him off leash. The last thing I see as we reach my building is the dog poop under the apple tree in the yard, and the couple walking right past it to throw his ball.
Now I know, maybe they were church goers who have used the space before. Maybe they use the space on days we don’t and we’ve just never seen them. But we use this field everyday, for two months now. No one has ever been there, or come there for any reason, no one has reason to at 7am. Not only that, but they have now left their dog turd so that when it is found, no one will allow dogs there anymore. Why? Why would you ruin a good thing like that by being inconsiderate?!
I like to think I am more mad at losing the best thing we could have found for Bear but realistically I am more mad at people who could be so inconsiderate as to ruin something like that for others. We would have been happy to say hi and share the space, or let them know we are only ever there till 8:15am. Come on though, pick up after your dog if you are going to do something like push another person out of a public space like that. Even if “they were there first” or had used it long before us and just been missing for two months, I don’t know, be nice? Say something? We’re all using this space as an illegal leash free area.
Rant over. Here’s some cute pictures of Bear to remind myself why I’ll be looking for the next best thing for him. Maybe this time we’ll find somewhere where we can ask to use it at specific times. Maybe someone has a spare backyard? Here’s to wishful thinking.