I note that when people see Joey they now commonly look at his coat and ask “What happened to him?” “What’s that bald spot there?” They don’t notice the scar on his ankle! They don’t notice his flattened foot. This reminds me of the fly on the elephant. But what’s great is that they don’t notice any affect of the accident when he walks or runs; most of the time he doesn’t limp at all.
I often take Joey to the Cold Spring Dog Park, since I discovered it a few months ago. Some people there notice that he’s whole and ask “Why haven’t you gotten him altered?”
I feel a little defensive about it. But really, I shouldn’t be. I don’t owe them an explanation. Joey’s a great dog, running, playing, making friends, and being happy. He’s regal. And, importantly, he obeys the rules, and I obey the rules. When he runs to the far end of the field, I say “Joey, come!”, and he turns around, looks at me, and comes running back. If he starts to play with a dog who doesn’t want to play with him, I say “Joey, no” and he stops. When he doesn’t find a dog to play with, I run in the large open field, and he chases. As usual, he’ll win: I’ll tire out long before he does. At the dog park, he’s being happy being a dog.
Being asked to explain why we don’t castrate our dog pushes me to explore my feelings: I discover that, since his accident and recovery, I feel proud of our Joey! I feel parental, wanting to stand up for my dog and protect him from criticism.
Life has surely changed for my husband and me, and for Joey too. In the morning, the two friends run: One happens to be a human and the other happens to be a chocolate Labrador Retriever. And then, in the afternoon, I try to find a place where Joey can make the friends that he needs. Joey is Mr. Will You Be My Friend?
Going to the dog park has become transformative: Watching this natural beauty run and play is awesome. Watching this 10-year old run and play six months after he was hit by a car, with a plate and 9 pins in his ankle, is a wonder.
The following day, he may be limping a bit, but I’ll walk him slowly and, of course, always feed him his glucosamine/chondroiten with breakfast and Omega 3 fish oils with dinner. Many of the routines that began with his injury have remained with us.
On a Sunday, people make the dog park a center of their lives. Children go and play with dogs, fathers and sons play catch. There is laughter and peace there. A young boy goes with his new puppy. Two years ago I never even heard of a dog park. This is not a place I ever expected to be spending my time. But that’s where you go when you want to see and make your canine family members happy.