This past Sunday, we were supposed to go up and play with puppies at Miss Breeder’s house. That’s right, I was going to go suffer puppy teeth and toenails all to make you readers happy. I might have also been planning to sneak a bottle of puppy breath home with me to get me through another week or two at school, but nobody can prove that. That stuff has potent powers to make you forget bad things in your life, like say, a giant orthopedic dog bed being destroyed. Alas, I digress. Just as we were leaving the house, we got a message from Ms. Breeder saying that another of her mama dogs was going into labor early and that the visit wouldn’t work out that day.
We already had Bunny and Kuster in the van. After a little discussion, we decided to go home, get Morgan and Blueberry and head to the dog park. After all, it actually rained here on Saturday and you could stand being outside longer than three seconds without fear of combustion. It was just too nice to miss and we didn’t want any of the dogs to miss it, either. Even though Blueberry really doesn’t “do” the outdoors any longer than necessary to take care of her powder room business, we were still going.
As we arrived at the dog park, we saw that there were just a few other dogs there, which was what we were counting on. There was a fourteen month old German Shepherd named Yogi, an Australian Shepherd cross whose name I never heard, and a four month old German Shepherd puppy named Abby. As soon as I saw Abby, I was a little bit smitten. She reminded me a lot of what Morgan looked like as a puppy. She was also a little on the skittish side.
Watching her was amusing. She really wanted to play with the older dogs, but she was a little uncertain of them. After a little while, she cautiously approached Bunny, then ran back to the safety area under the picnic table. She started to approach Morgan, who took it as an invitation to play, then she retreated to the picnic table again. Finally, Mr. Taleteller came into the dog park with Kuster and she overcame her curiosity to go over and have a good sniff of him.
Kuster surprised me. He tends to play rather rough at times, which is why he and Morgan don’t have playing privileges in the house. Still, he was pretty gentle with little Abby and she loved playing with him. I watched as she watched him and initiated play with him several times. He didn’t stay with her the whole time, he had to go run around some and burn off some energy. However, he kept coming back and he’d spend several minutes playing chase and a little bitey face with her before he’d head out again.
After a while, Morgan and Kuster ran off to the back of the park to see what Bunny had found that was of interest. Abby came out of her hiding spot and took a few tentative steps towards where they’d gone. After a few moments, she ventured about halfway to where they were and stood watching, waiting to see if they’d notice her. All of a sudden, Morgan and Kuster were barreling towards us and Abby turned and ran back towards us.
I think part of her was a little scared, but the other part of her was very excited that the big dogs were playing with her. At least, in her mind they were. After a few times, I saw that she was clearly hoping that Kuster was going to play chase so that she could run under the table. She was getting a lot braver.
After a little while of more playing, where the big dogs were clearly doing what Abby was hoping they’d do, a couple entered with another pair of dogs. One of them was an eighteen month old Boxer named Oogie, who clearly had no sense of boundaries. He was like a kangaroo on crack, and I suddenly found myself glad that I was going home with the black tornado. Abby was clearly intimidated and confused by him, and she tried to stay away from him.
Sure enough, nothing was deterring Oogie from pestering Abby. She was clearly out of her league, and she came back to the picnic table to hide. Of course, Kuster wasn’t even a little bit afraid of Oogie. He was all gung ho to be manly dogs doing manly dog things. He wrestled around with Oogie for a while and Oogie, with the attention span of a gnat, went off to look for another dog to chase.
Kuster came back and played some more with Abby, only to have Oogie crash their little party again. I was really surprised to see Kuster take the time to teach Abby how to handle those kinds of shenanigans. They worked together, double teaming the wild Boxer and I saw Abby looking like she was having fun again. I have no idea how Kuster knew to do this, but he was having a great time showing off for little Abby and keeping the wild Boxer at bay.
Watching Abby and Kuster reminded me a lot of myself when I try new things. I am a horrible perfectionist, and I often enter things wanting to do it right from the beginning. This often results in me really holding back instead of jumping in and having fun, especially in social situations.
When Abby quit worrying and started to enjoy herself, she had a lot more fun. Suddenly she was making friends and really having a great time. After she made one friend, she seemed to be a lot more comfortable trying to make friends with others. The same is true of us humans. When we quit worrying about all the things we should or shouldn’t do, things come a lot more naturally for us. If only I could remember to carry a little of Abby’s cautiously adventurous spirit with me when I go out in the world, I think I’d do pretty well!