No, not a weird type of water, I’m talking about Water Bark, a Doggy Water Day at Spring Lake Park. On this sunny October day, lucky dogs ran on the sand and swam in the Laguna. In celebration of summer’s end, Sonoma County Regional Parks asked for a donation of three dollars per dog. We watched three people registered their golden Labrador retrievers. As we passed, all the dogs kept their noses pointed at the water.
Dogs of all sizes arrived. People wisely shepherded most of the little dogs to a separate area. This made me glad. These people knew that size matters to dogs. Unless raised with large dogs, many little guys would rather play with someone that won’t crush them. Or hit them with a hundred pound paw. I have written about other differences between the social cues of big and little dogs.
These dogs sniffed cautiously. The German Shepard stood still and let the little guy go around him. When they finished, both dogs walked calmly away. This does not always work out so well.
This type of greeting can bring on an attack by the larger dog.
Especially if the little dog becomes aggressive, fearful or rude, the larger dog might try to correct his behavior or simply treat the small dog as prey. If you would like to learn more about keeping small dogs safe around big dogs, fetch my posts Wolfish or Puppyish? Dogs Speak and Dangerous Moments for Dogs.
As we stood watching, a well-groomed standard poodle arrived. Like the best of his breed, he turned out to be a calm, quiet and well-manner guy. Yet clearly, he wanted to join in the fun inside the orange-plastic fencing. He stood ready, watching and alert. I smiled at his patience waiting for his moment to go inside with the other dogs. Another similar sized dog sat behind, waiting.
Once the poodle and his friend entered, they plunged into the water, bucking and lunging. They swam around each other. They whirled. They lurched at one another, splashing. The poodle bolted on to the sand, bounded, and darted. Like a magnet he drew the other dogs after him. When he leapt back into the water, his buddy and several other dogs where in tow. He ran up the beach, zigzagging. The pack of young dogs stayed on his heels.
The poodle paused only to greet new dogs or lower his head and chest in a play bow. Frisky, he swept near others to entice them to a game of chase. We learned he was only two years old. And he had arrived with his camera-loving buddy. Well-matched for size, age and energy, these two stole the show.
Dog lovers relished the high energy, wild and goofy play.
The poodle and his pals charged out of the water then up to their people on the sand. The dogs shook and wet everyone.
Playing chase, dodge and dash, the poodle’s friend ran straight to my camera and shoved his nose at the lense. I pulled back in time to save my camera from being smeared by a wet nose. His person said, “He loves to have his picture taken.” So as I stood watching these two playmates, they repeated their circuit, punctuated by a lunge at my camera. I snapped dozens and dozens of photos, learning to guess when I might capture their sprawling frolic.