Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Socializing, good for dogs and people

   Working with the shelter dog I drew for the Extreme Mutt Makeover, Mandy, made me think, in great detail, about a number of things that are normally just passing thoughts.
   I only had six weeks to work with Mandy, and so everything was more.
   More training sessions, more treats and more time bonding. This was done trying to get her to be the best dog she could be so that after the competition, she would have the best shot possible at getting the perfect home for her — and she will give her new people a lifetime of devotion and love.
   Part of her training involved taking her for walks and to various social gatherings so that she became socialized.
   It was obvious from day one that she enjoyed the company of people, so socialization was something that just needed to be kept up.
   While searching for a place bigger than my backyard to let her stretch her legs and run free, I discovered there is not a local place in my town where people with their dogs can go — at least they can’t go with their dogs off-leash.
   We piled into the car several times during training and headed to Fort Worth and the great dog park there, Ft. Woof.
   What a great opportunity we are missing out on in my town by not having our own version of the gathering place for canines.
   And, the Ft. Woof dog park not just a gathering place for dogs. Many people bring their canine buddies to the park in order to have conversations with other animal lovers. Some folks come out and don’t even own a pooch — they just like the company.
   While up that direction, we typically stop for a drink or a bite to eat and gas, if we need it. Those are dollars I would rather spend locally, but find myself in need out of town, only because I must go out of town in order to take part in an activity that is not offered locally.
   A local park would benefit the community socially and economically. Perhaps it is something that should be considered by city leaders.
   Dog parks are something officials typically overlook because they can't see the immediate benefit of one. What they typically see is that the dog park will cost money rather than bring money into the city. They don't understand people with dogs buy goods and services and that money could be leaving their town if dog owners are forced to go to a neighboring community to take part in having fun with their dog.
   I recently mentioned I would be trying various products and telling you if they are worth your hard-earned paychecks, and I have something to report.
   The Mosquito Magnet is a contraption that supposes to attract the little buggers with a mix of propane and a chemical attractant.
   I hooked one outside by my pool a couple of weeks ago, and I can honestly say it has made a difference. It is a bit pricey, running a little over $300, but being able to sit out in the evening without getting bit is worth 10 times that amount. I’m sure my neighbors are enjoying the relief from mosquitoes as well, because it is said to clear about an acre of land from the pests.
   I just hope mosquitoes never get organized and build a mosquito park.

Blake Ovard is a professional dog trainer and a top-three finalist in the Extreme Mutt Makeover. He can be reached via e-mail at blake@didyaq.com when he is not at the dog park or barking up a tree.

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