A special treat, a trip to San Antonio’s McAlister Park Dog Park by Julia Hayden

Created Sunday, 20 February 2011 15:16

Essential Dog

My daughter’s dog, better known as the Lesser Weevil, lives for walkies every day . . . and for a special treat, a trip to the McAlister Park Dog Park. She’s a social creature, and rather outgoing; every human she has ever met has been instantly and utterly her bestest BFF. I do so hope that I would never have to depend upon the Weevil for personal protection in the case of a dangerous psychopath breaking into our house . . . since the Weevil will probably be cowering behind me. With other dogs, it’s a matter of all things being more or less equal. A friendly and playful romp with a dog or dogs more or less of her same size and degree of playfulness; too much larger than her and a bit too aggressive with the sniffing brings on pretty much the same reaction as an encounter with a very much smaller dog afflicted with the canine version of a Napoleon complex. Why, why, why are the smallest dogs always the most combative, more prone to biting, more given – in vulgar vernacular – to write checks with their mouths that their posteriors can’t possibly cash? I noticed this with a number of smaller dogs in the neighborhood, some of whom persist in getting stroppy with the Weevil, usually from behind a tall fence or at the end of a leash: it’s as if they feel they have something to prove.

But none of this happens at San Antonio dog park; sometimes it seems that the more dogs are there, the better they are behaved, although sometimes I do worry about the smaller ones. Not because they are unleashing their inner urge to conquer Europe and invade Russia in winter . . . but because they run a distinct hazard of being knocked flying in a collision with a larger dog, intent on galloping across the dog park. Perhaps there might be some kind of justification for a “tiny dog” section of the park set aside, rather like a shallow “toddler pool” – for those that are under so many inches in height. For now, they all get along together . . . although when our pint-sized Shi-Tzu was still alive and accompanying us to the dog park, she didn’t really seem interested in mixing it up with the other canines. She was pretty well glued to my ankles, tiny dog section or not.

A visit to the park is always reassuring to us for another reason – there are always dogs that are larger than the Weevil. People whom we meet in our neighborhood often go on about her as if she is a large dog – when in actual comparison to really, really large dogs – she is really quite dainty. And when I say ‘large dog’, I mean about the size of an Irish wolfhound, or a Great Dane, or even just the gangly young Doberman who was there last weekend – all legs and enormous feet and that brown-and-black shark-head which looks so terribly dangerous, until you realize that the dog is nothing but a great friendly doofus and the only danger that he poses is that of knocking you down, sitting on your chest and licking your face. Which happened to me with a young stray Rottweiler once, but that is another story.

Another good thing about the dog park in McAlister Park is that the area around it has just been renovated and landscaped: a double row of sapling trees has just been planted on either side of the path from the parking lot (or is it really a ‘barking lot’?) and another double row of trees on either side of a new paved trail. The new trail leads down towards Salado Creek – a neighbor of ours went on a run a couple of months ago, and she says it is wonderful. When the trees are full-grown, it will be even more so.

Dog lovers may be interested to learn that dog loving organizations esists that are all about getting out and getting moving- for our dogs sakes as well as our own. San Antonio Nature Hounds is just one of many organizations that sponsors events such as training, hiking, camping, tubing, outdoors, picnic, patio dining, group walks or dog pack walks, nearly any day of the week at different locations. (All with their dogs.) Daily exercise is essential for dogs. A tired dog is a well behaved dog and well behaved dogs have happy owners.

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