Reader appreciates Dog Park

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Dear Editor,

I have lived in Ouray ever since Katrina displaced me from New Orleans in 2005 but have only just discovered our Dog Park. With a new puppy I am concerned about “socializing” him with other dogs, so as soon as he turned four months I started bringing him to the Dog Park. When we first entered, half a dozen dogs came charging over, and, for a moment, he was terrified, but the other dog owners assisted in reassuring him and, within less than two minutes he was joining the others in play.
I had never seen anything like it. Eight or nine dogs ranging in size from a diminutive mini-Schnauzer to a big Australian Shepherd were playing together and not one exhibiting anything but happiness. The high-energy ones play rough and rejoice in their vigor, the quieter ones range all the way from strict observation to gentle interaction on the fringes, but the rowdy ones seem to have total respect for the preferences of the smaller and quieter ones and leave them in peace.
We stayed for about an hour of uninhibited dog play. The next day my “Faustie,” who is a half-grown Standard Schnauzer, was so excited that, for the last three blocks before the Dog Park he forgot all about his new leash-training and simply tugged for all he was worth to get to his newfound friends.
It is now a month later, and our mornings at the dog park have become a high point of our day. At times there have been as many as 14 or 15 dogs…and I continue to be overwhelmed by seeing that many dogs of such varying sizes and temperaments playing happily and with nobody being bullied or overwhelmed.
I have also seen benefits for the city at large, even for those who do not go to the Dog Park. Almost immediately Faustie became far gentler and more positive about meeting other dogs on our walks, both when they are on leash and even when they are at large. Instead of fear-driven aggression, he now assumes that every dog he meets is a potential playmate. In the unrestrained interaction at the Dog Park, he has learned how to greet a stranger in a friendly, non-threatening way and to recognize the same in another dog. This has made it far more pleasant for me in walking my dog. I no longer feel nervous when a strange dog approaches. I even anticipate with pleasure their interaction and so does Faustie. This also must make it a lot easier on the other dog owner.
Occasionally we meet a dog that is not “socialized,” in which case Faustie seems able to shrug it off without getting drawn into their negativity.
I write this letter as someone who knew nothing about our Dog Park until a month ago but has learned to treasure it as a precious asset to our community.
Heartfelt thanks, also, to those who must have worked so hard to bring about this miraculous place.

Ted Steinhardt
Ouray