Tuesday, November 18, 2008

She lets the dogs out

Lately I've been taking Dobby for his daily mid-morning walk.

In our neighbourhood is an unused Catholic public school. It has a fenced grassy playing area that is being used by local dog owners as a place to let their dogs off the leash to play. This is where I take Dobby.

A local couple have a dog walking business, every day they collect some twenty dogs from their homes and take them to this school yard to play for an hour just before noon. Several other dog owners show up at the same time because it is a wonderful opportunity to let their dogs play with the dog walkers' charges, and to learn from them.

You see, Teresca, the woman of the couple, is an amazing dog handler.

She is The Alpha Alpha Dog, She Who Must Be Obeyed.

And they adore her for it too!

We watch and try to learn from her. I mean, really, any woman who can control over twenty unleashed dogs and make it look easy has got to be amazing, right? And these are not dogs who have been trained by her over time, many of them have only just met her and are instantly at her command. She uses a certain tone---The Voice---to let a dog know that she does not approve of its behaviour, and the dog quickly comes to her and lies down and takes her lecture, all delivered in The Voice.

We, the novice dog owner-masters, practice The Voice, but with varying results. Mostly I think our dogs just laugh at us.

After usually less than a minute, Teresca switches to her usually sweet loving persona and the cowering dog gets up in relief that the lecture is over. Depending on how bad the behaviour really was the dog is then either let off scot-free, or else handed over to her partner, who leashes the dog and keeps it at the sidelines in a Time-Out for bad behaviour.

This outing to play with Teresca's dogs is one of the major highlights of Dobby's day. He is so excited to go! Just like he used to be when I would take him to meet Sheila and her dogs in the Harbour this past summer. And I enjoy spending time there too, getting to know all the different dog personalities and chatting with the other owners, and maybe picking up a tip or two in how to manage doggie behaviour.

Today however, we got a little bad news. Apparently a neighbour has complained to the Catholic school board and Teresca has been warned that dogs are not to be off-leash in the unused schoolyard. There are no off-leash dog parks nearby, and local dog owners have already had it made clear to them that the next nearest park is off-limits to dogs. Teresca asked us to find somebody who knows somebody on the school board in hopes of intervening on her behalf.

We don't want to lose this doggie play space, and we don't want to lose Teresca either. It's such a great thing to see so many dogs having such a good time and behaving so well, thanks to her.


Unknown said...

hi there, I read your post and am curious the name/location of the catholic school.


Zabetha said...

Hi David, for now I'm a being a bit cautious, don't want to add any more fuel to the fire, so to speak.

The fenced area has several signs showing an unleashed dog surrounded by a green circle, with the words "Stoop and Scoop" beneath. I'm going to take a wild guess that the signs mean that unleashed dogs are allowed, providing owners clean up after them. So, while not an official dog park, it does seem to have the school board's blessing for dogs. We'll just have to wait and see what happens next.

Anonymous said...

How wonderful the dogs had a place where they could play and frolic safely as is their nature and under the watchful eyes of their owners or carers. What a shame that someone is trying to stop this.

Hope good sense, kindness, and dogs prevail.