The dog park is like Valleyfair for dogs. If you aren’t from Minnesota, replace “Valleyfair” with Legoland, Six Flags, or Disneyland. Basically, you’re looking at an amusement park for dogs. On the way there, they sit on the edge of their seats, look out the front window and whine, “Are we there yet?”
Barney is an old boy. He wasn’t always old. Like myself, Barney once loved to run when he managed to get free. He would glide gracefully over bushes, streak across the occasional golf course, and could stop on a dime for a good sniff in the grass. At the dog park, he now ambles clumsily with a stiff back and old paws. But if you look closely, you can still see the wild in his eyes.
Barney has taken on the role of the official greeter at the park. Whenever we stop at a bench, a field, or the swimmin’ hole, he wanders around waiting for newcomers. Tail wagging, he puts his one ear up and jogs over to say hello, which entails both nose- and butt-sniffing.
When the greeting business is slow, he goes exploring. Off in the high brush, he imagines he is a lone wolf who has been lost from his pack. Sometimes, the only clues we have to his whereabouts are the rustlings in the woods, or the movement of the grasses. Other times, it is a black tail or the one ear flagging his bearings. On one of our recent trips, we saw him bouncing — something I hadn’t seen since he was a pup — through the grass, tail waving wildly, nose pointed downward. There were tiny toads all over the park and Barney was determined to play!
Sabbath is the pup at only a year and half of age. She is also smaller by about 25 pounds, maybe more. She is named after the band, not the day of religious observance. The only time she shows awareness of the other dogs at the park is when she thinks they are after her ball. She lives for the catch.
Sabbath’s favorite part of Valleyfair is the waterpark. Other human park-dwellers have recorded her water maneuvers. Proud, we imagine them showing the video at home for proof of this amazing animal they saw that day. Young children squeal with delight when she cannonballs in the water! While Barney is our steadfast canine companion, Sabbath is clearly our entertainment.
Photos taken at Battlecreek Regional Park
Just like any other trip to Valleyfair, the “kids” will often sleep on the way home. Not a peep — just stinky, happy dogs! At home the parents wearily put all the gear away before crashing on the couch for an hour. Dinner is quiet, the pups are calm and go to bed early.
The next day the parents are wakened to bumps along the side of the bed. It’s the “kids” asking when is everyone getting up and . . . . “Can we go to Valleyfair again?