My boyfriend Ron and I wanted to celebrate a day in this coming holiday season with just our dogs—our 10-year-old Yorkie-dachshund mix called Teddy and Clara Mae, a 3-year-old blue-merle Australian shepherd. So we decided to take them to a new dog park they had never visited, Laguna Beach Dog Park.
We started the day with a holiday breakfast of huevos rancheros at Zinc, and for Teddy and Clara Mae’s breakfast, two doggy biscuits with colored, safe-for-dogs sprinkles. Then we all piled into our car and headed for another adventure in a frontier new to us.
Five minutes later, we parked right in front of the Dog Park entrance, and I fluffed up the colorful holiday ribbons we had tied onto their collars. As our dogs pulled desperately on their leashes in wild excitement to reach the park gate, we walked (or should I say hurdled) across a long bridge over a dry, rocky creek bed. And then the fun began.
We found a dog’s paradise. Someone had recommended this dog park to us, and we were amazed to see it was almost several football fields long, approximately two acres.
It was dotted with trees and shady areas with benches and even included a fenced-in little park for the small doggies. There was grass on which to run and a very social water fountain in the main part of the park for both dogs and their humans. For dogs that liked to run up and down steep hills, the park included a very steep hill flanked at the top by a sturdy fence that enclosed the whole park.
We soon found that our baby knew no fear. In spite of the mere 45-pound heft of her young body, Clara took on all suitors, large and small, aggressive or shy. She became a very agile and wily dog as she dodged one menacing German shepherd and joined a running formation of five other dogs, taking the lead easily. I smiled to myself.
As we were getting ready to leave, I saw a Rottweiler heading my way with a candy-cane-shaped Kong toy in his mouth and a red-and-white collar around his muscular neck. His owner had told me his name was Mr. Cool. He was coming right towards me in what I would call a slow gallop. But Mr. Cool was a gentleman. He came to a quick stop, gave me a wet kiss on the knee without dropping his toy (amazing!) and sauntered off to greet other friends.
Teddy was the miniature image of Mr. Cool. Intrepid little fellow that he was; he treaded where larger breeds feared to go. I could imagine him saying “Hmmm…What do we have here? I think I will jump up and do a little sniffing. I’ll show him who’s the boss.” He sniffed the rear end of a skittish Great Dane and casually walked off to inspect the Santa Claus outfit of a docile fox terrier while the Dane slunk miserably back to his owner.
We were all pretty tired by now, but there were a few wistful glances back at the park as we walked across the bridge and climbed into our car. The day was over, but not forgotten. We would be back. And Ron and I agreed that we couldn’t have found a better way to celebrate the holidays with our little canine family.
Fran Masket, a member of the Third Street Writers group, can be found most days walking her dog, Clara Mae, who is always seeking friendly dogs who want to play.