Friday, April 3, 2015

Leader of the (dog) Pack and Miami's Dog Parks

So inadvertently I became the temporary leader of my own personal dog pack.  I do have one dog, the perfect dog, but through the simple act of saying yes, for the last three weeks I had four pooches. Each dog, with the exception of my own, came to my home when I said yes to two friends who were traveling abroad, another is a dog I sit for a dear neighbor, the dog barks when left alone. I basically told both friends that I would sit their dogs while they were away. I didn't bother to ask what dates they'd be away and coincidentally both couples were leaving and returning around the same dates. I couldn't back out at the last minute and ruin vacations and friendships. 

My temporary "pack" of fierce dogs!

Creation of my Pack:
So packs seem to form organically. By Saturday I had 4 dogs and initially there was an adjustment period.  I learned that different doggie parents have different values when raising their canine companions. For example, house-training is a value I believe in as a dog owner. Dogs must relieve themselves outside. A stack of pee-pads came with one of the darlings and well I realized there were some different values regarding training. The problem is, when one dog uses pee-pads.....the other 3 felt like pee-pads, bathroom mats, and assorted floor coverings were put there just for any spur of the moment urination.  A second value I hold dear about doggies is that they don't sleep with me. Don't get me wrong I do not judge you if you sleep with your animals, it's just something I don't do. Call me elitist, but I am the alpha male and I sleep with other humans. I just want to keep at the top of the pecking order. When you raise your animals to your level, you're giving away your "power".  Whining  guests were quickly informed that the beds on the floor were for dogs. Any attempts to hop on the bed were blocked. 

So by the fourth day my pack began to act pack-like.  Keeping them all on the same walking schedule and food. I just mixed up all the fancy dog foods together, no use trying to each give them their "special food".  Like all dogs they slept for inordinately long stretches, but when they were awake they'd play and jostle and pee and play some more.  A leader emerged, Max, who would herd them in and out of the house and keep the dog pack working in a systematic, organized group. He'd poop, the other three would poop, he jumped in the back of the car, they'd jump in. The "runners" eventually fell into line and by the end of the week I didn't even need leashes to control the bunch. It was fun and fascinating and kept me entertained.

Going to Dog Parks:
So with four dogs I knew they needed exercise. I know people thought I was that "crazy dog person"showing up with four dogs. Also I didn't want to give off that "I'm a dog-sitter" vibe, because I went to college and have a job that pays. Plus I work at home and have a scruffy beard, so to a stranger, I might be some homeless dog hoarder that shows up with well groomed poodles. To me, having four dogs in not attractive, its just one dog too much.  My "pack" behaved well at the park and ran around and did all the normal dog things. 

Museum Park is lovely, not an "official" dog park. 
Good Dog Parks:
Best: Haulover Beach Dog park: Largest park around. Fenced in and has a small dog/big dog separation. There's a dog beach too.
Good: Blanche Park: Park is a bit small and crowded. Not much parking nearby. But it's fenced in.
Good: Pine Tree dog park: Fenced in. Shady. Dog owners were not friendly and gossipy about each other. If you go there stick to yourself and your dogs. 
Okay: South Point Park:  park is not fenced, too small, shrubbery around it. Good people watching.
Okay: Legion Park: fenced in but no grass, just dirt. poorly maintained dog park area.