On Saturday, I took Cheyenne and Dixie to the dog park in southwest Houston. It's a bit of a drive but the park is enormous with trails and trees, lots of room to run off leash, and a big pool for swimming and retrieving. After the rains Houston had last week, there were also plenty of puddles here and there. Have I ever told you that Cheyenne likes puddles? Oh yes, she does. The muddier the better. A Water Buffalo, that one is.
For Dixie, all that space translates into one thing: RUN. That's all she does. She ran there, and then over there, then across there and back through there and then she'd stop for a moment and look for where I was. When she found me, she'd run to me for a nose rub, and then she'd take off again.
There are actually two dog parks. The other park, smaller but still sizeable, is for little dogs, 20 pounds and under. There are signs at the entrances of both parks, Large Dogs Only, and Small Dogs Only. But sometimes, those with little dogs opt for the large dog park. It doesn't raise as many eyebrows as I'm sure it would if someone were to bring their 80 plus pound dog in the small dog park, but I always sort of cringe nonetheless. There are big dogs in the big dog park. In addition to all the Labradors and Pointers there are German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Great Danes, Boxers, American Bulldogs, Akitas and Mastiffs. I wouldn't dare bring a small breed dog into the park designated for big dogs. What happened yesterday is exactly why.
A man and his small Beagle walked into the park as Cheyenne, Dixie and I did. I thought then, hmmm, that dog is small and Beagles are barkers. I hope he doesn't go after a big dog. And then I didn't think about it again.
Because of Cheyenne's recent surgery, I wanted to keep her away from the pool and the temptations to run and jump, so we instead walked the winding path through and around the area. A lot of people do this, they get their exercise and their dogs get to roam around here and there while still being in site.
I heard the barking first. Then I heard a loud aggressive growl. Then I stopped in my tracks. Ahead of me I saw the beagle. The focus of his barking, and source of that aggressive growl was an enormous American Bulldog. The Bulldog lurched for the Beagle, got it in its mouth by his back and lifted that little dog straight into the air. The beagle was yelping and the Bulldog's owner and Beagle's owner were trying to separate them. They did so almost immediately. While the Beagle's owner was checking him and the Bulldog's owner was apologizing profusely, a crowd began to gather. I stepped closer and saw the bloody drool from the Bulldog's mouth.
I wonder what you would have done at this point. Me? I would have immediately put my dog in my arms and carried him to my car and driven him to the vet. But for some reason, even though his dog was injured, the Beagle's owner did not do that. Instead he and the others who had gathered around him began verbally attacking the Bulldog's owner.Why isn't your dog on a leash? You've trained him to be a killer! Who the hell needs a dog that big? The Bulldog's owner kept apologizing, saying, he's never done anything like that before, I'm so sorry. Those words were not heard, or they were ignored. A woman was yelling at him, the Beagle's owner was yelling at him. The man did not raise his voice, just kept apologizing.
Cheyenne and I walked past them, leaving a wide berth between us and the scene. I sat on a bench at a distance and watched the commotion going on, still wondering why the Beagle's owner was not seeking treatment for his dog. The Beagle was standing and obviously frightened and it seemed to me uncomfortable but I could not see any bleeding. Still, I wouldn't take any chances if the dog were mine.
Cheyenne and I got on our way again but I couldn't shake what I had seen. Why did the Beagle owner take his dog to the big dog park? And when he did, did he not consider the risks? Why didn't he grab his dog when it started barking at the Bulldog?
Later, when Dixie was sufficiently run down and Cheyenne had sniffed her fill, we headed to the car. At the gate were the Beagle owner and two other people, seemingly waiting for something. When the police arrived, they approached the car. I shook my head at it all, mainly because the Beagle still had not been taken to the vet, so how concerned was this guy really? I put the dogs in the car and then watched the police approach the Bulldog owner who was sitting on a bench inside the park. Another crowd gathered. One policeman walked away with the Beagle owner and, it seemed to me, asked him to stay there, while they spoke with the Bulldog owner.
I do not know how it all turned out because I couldn't stay anymore and watch. But I do know this: If you have a small dog, don't bring him or her to the large dog park if there is a small one available to you, especially if you have an aggressive small dog. The entire episode was completely avoidable.
I wonder if that Beagle was ever taken to the vet.