Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lulu the beagle checks out Dr. Phillips dog park, or "how dogs say hello"

Oftentimes to me Lulu seems very lonely. Beagles by nature are very social creatures -- they want to say hi to anyone and they hate being by themselves. At my parents' house, while she was alone 8 to 10 hours a day during the week, she also would have the cats to beat up on, and most of the time she would have my niece to wind her up. She could also go out in the backyard, where neighbors would come by just to say hello to her.

At my house, all she has when I'm not here is my cat Galadriel. Who hates her. Passionately.

I was strongly reminded of this today when I took Lulu for her morning walk. She was doing her business in the doggy area when a couple came walking by with a small dog on a leash. Lulu did what she usually did -- running back and forth along the fence, barking like mad. If the couple had planned to come in, I'm pretty sure that changed when they saw her.

So I decided it was time to get Lulu some puppy socialization.

In southwest Orange County there's Dr. Phillips Community Park. It's a nice little park tucked away from everything. It also has the closest dog park to me (that I could find). I'd never been there before, and it was a Tuesday morning, but maybe I'd get lucky and we'd find some dogs.

The doggy park is away from the playground and splash park, along the fitness trail. Along the way we met a lady with a puppy who was quite nervous about Lulu sniffing her dog, and another lady with a beagle named Ruthie (sadly they were just leaving).

The park splits up big dogs and small dogs (under or over 30 pounds), with a wash area in the middle. Since the lady with the puppy was in the small dog area by herself, I decided to let Lulu try out the large dog area, which was bigger so she had more room to sniff and run on her own.

As soon as we got in, these two huge dogs came right over to Lulu. I don't know what they were -- they looked like wolves. They were beautiful. And they wanted to get to know Lulu. Except she was afraid to get to know them. As they began what I can only determine is the traditional doggy greeting (is smelling a dog's butt really the equivalent of shaking hands?), Lulu backed away, tail between her legs. Fortunately they weren't too forceful, but since she was clearly uncomfortable around them, I decided to move her to the small dogs area as soon as there were more dogs.

She definitely seemed happier there:

Dr. Phillips Community Park is off Buenavista Woods Boulevard, off Apopka Vineland Road. On top of the dog park, they have a fitness trail, a playground, a splash park, ball fields, a pavillion and other amenities. The dog park area itself is tiny for little dogs, and there's no shade other than trees. But there are water fountains and dog bowls, and benches for us humans. Overall it was really nice, and I think Lulu and I will be returning.

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