For the Love of Dogs

Carter Reiter, Reporter

This summer I worked a lot. If I wasn’t working, I was at summer practice for my upcoming winter nordic season, for which I had big goals. I’m quite certain that I could, on one hand, count how many days I got to sleep in. While I still tried to make plans with friends, or find days where I could climb mountains at sunrise, there is one thing that I prioritized above all else: taking my dog to the dog park.

There is no place that I love more than the dog park. I love encouraging my dog to sit in the front seat, rolling the windows down, and playing music at a reasonable decibel so that she (my dog, Addison) wouldn’t be overwhelmed by any unnecessarily loud Taylor Swift playing from the speakers. I love walking our route, walking out towards the end of the dog park and begging Addison not to get into the river (because I knew she wouldn’t get out until it’s time to leave, that dog needed a full walk) and watching her get stoked when I told her to go swim on our way back. I love telling her it’s OK to sit in the front seat, even if she’s muddy, because who cares if my seats are dirty if I get to pet her the whole way home.

Addison and I went to the dog park at any time of day. Once, we went at 9:30 at night and, I swear, were in real danger of death-by-mountain-lion. More often than not, we went in the late afternoon, right before dinner time, and we walked slowly and said hello to all the other dogs, played in the river for long periods of time and I watched the sunset while she ate dirt and grass and drank river water.

We went to the dog park in all weather, too. We braved rain, and a little hail (not much hail, because Addison was kind of a ninny), but mostly we braved the gentle sunshine of southwest Colorado and the soft breezes that brought interesting smells for Addison and loose hair in the face for me.

There is nothing that I love more than the feeling of changing out of my work clothes, putting on a pair of running shorts and a t-shirt, tugging my Chaco straps until they’re the perfect fit, jamming my unbrushed hair into a ball cap, and knowing exactly where I’m headed. Obviously, in life as a whole, I’m not really sure where I’m going, but going to the dog park made me certain that I was doing something right, or at least tip-toeing in the right direction.

I believe that dogs are undeniably, in-their-DNA, good. They give us little bits of goodness that are vital to us, especially on our worst days.

I talked to a good friend of mine and she described how a couple weeks ago, she had a draining day: a nothing-going-right, feel-like-you-need-to-cry-every-other-hour kind of day. She said that the thing that got her through the day was knowing that she could go home and give her loving pup a treat, because she knew that when it felt like no one else in the world was on her side, her dog would be head over heels for the simple act of sharing.

Another friend of mine had a dog whose name was Huckleberry. Huckleberry was there for her when her mom died, and he reminded my friend to not take anything too seriously and that, every once in a while, a good dose of walking in nature with your dog to clear your head is exactly what you need. Huckleberry didn’t like leashes, but he liked company and gluten-free pancakes and long walks in the mountains.

Recently, I had my last trip to the dog park with Addison. I think what makes losing a dog so hard is the fact that they never really do a bad thing in their lives. The worst act Addison committed was eating banana bread from off the counter or licking someone in the mouth, or, one time, she tried to swallow chewing gum from the sidewalk, which was gross, but not really bad. Needless to say, the good things she did outweighed the “bad”. I towed her along with me on really longs walks to really pretty places when I was feeling down and she wagged her tail the whole time, even though it made her tail a little sore the next day. She literally licked tears off my face when I cried, and whenever she did, she did her best to lick me in the mouth, too. She tolerated endless pets, loving ear tugs, total gibberish words cooed to her, too many treats, and lots of trips to the dog park.

The bottom line is- love your dog as much as they love you. Get excited to see them when you get home everyday. Give them love and attention and kisses and introduce them to people on the street so they can get the maximum amount of pets, but only if they want that kind of affection from strangers. Give them treats, but not too many, because as hard as it is to admit, too many treats can be a bad thing. Most importantly, tell everyone you know that your dog is a really good dog, because they are.