“The park’s not as crowded at 8 am,” he assured Mommy. “The Border Collies don’t come till 9. Puppy Parents are better behaved and more attentive to their dogs. It’s a nice group of people,” Daddy said. “The other dogs don’t interest Avy like they did last year. Just toss her the ball. If she runs after affray of dogs, throw the ball in the opposite direction. She’ll follow it and YOU.”
I looked up at Daddy. He was smiling confidently at Mommy. It was nice. Mommy looked hopeful.
“That’s great,” Mommy said scanning the baseball field. “You only brought one ball with us?”
“One ball,” Daddy said smiling.
Mommy had every right to be skeptical. When we’re home playing, I’ve trained Mommy to play with two frisbees or two balls. I play tug-a-ware without two because I don’t like to share.
At 7:50 as Daddy instructed Mommy, off we went to the Nealon’s off leash Puppy Park. I could see Daddy’s explicit instructions spinning around in Mommy’s head every time I looked back at her while dragging her up Middle Avenue. I’m sure his list went something like this:
- Hang the leash on the fence
- Toss the ball away from other dogs
- Avy’s friend Savannah might steal the ball, but she’ll eventually give it back
- If Avy starts yapping and nipping at other dogs, show her the ball, throw it
- Avy responds nicely to “this way”
- When Avy’s ready she’ll head back to the leash on the fence by herself
- “If” you’re ready and think Avy might be, sometimes she’ll respond to “let’s go”
The baseball field was packed when we arrived. Not quiet like it was last week when Daddy brought Mommy and me here. Daddy hadn’t factored in summer vacation. Commotion everywhere. Oh Joy! A free-for-all. I couldn’t help myself and bounded after the ball Mommy tossed, and ran with it to catch up with the other dogs. When I dropped it, Savannah ran off with it. I looked back at Mommy. She didn’t look so confident any more. I chased Savannah and a couple other smaller dogs, and starting nipping and barking. Arf. Arf. Arf.
“Avvvvvyyyyyyyy,” Mommy screamed after me.
I knew Mommy was embarrassed by the way she chased me. Her greatest fear in life is being labeled a Bad Puppy Mommy. Savannah dropped my ball and some mutt ran off with it. Mommy glared at his owner. Mommy mumbled the “F-word” at the Bad Puppy owners mom who stood by shrugging her shoulders saying, “no sense in chasing my dog with your ball. He knows we’re after him.”
Eventually Mommy wised up and tossed the ball to the shady side of the field. I sprinted after it, flopped my tummy down on top of the ball, and cooled off while I watched Mommy march across the field towards me. When she firmly said, “let’s go,” I trotted off to the leash hanging on the fence. After all, Daddy’s not back till next Monday. Arf.