Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Fort Washington Barks: Luka and Aron

Why do I post more photos from Fort Washington Park than The Rocky Run? The reason is simple--better light, more space. We meet fantastic dogs (and great people) in both places, but no question the park gives the dogs a more expansive venue to strut their stuff.

Yolanda got some nice photos last Sunday, a selection of which I'm going to be posting in several installments over the next few days.

One of the first dogs we met was Luka, who sticks close to his human most of the time, and generally doesn't mingle with the other dogs--but his friendly confident nature is evident.

"My name is Luka
I'm a well-trained GSD
I'd like to play with you
but my human says we must leave"

(With abject apologies to Suzanne Vega)

Shortly after Luka left, Aron showed up--Aron is a 10 month old Rottweiler--his father was a German champion, and his mother was a Polish champion. And according to his owner, they don't dock the tails in Europe anymore.

You don't generally neuter a 10 month old purebred with champion lineage, and unproven potential. So Aron is 'intact', and his people want to make sure he's very well socialized with other dogs, as well as with people. Rotties are incredibly powerful--bred for brawn and brain--and as with German Shepherd Dogs, or any large working breed, it's incumbent on the humans who have custody of such a magnificent animal to make sure he remains a credit to his line. Which is precisely why Aron was down there. A credit he is (and a sweetie as well), which is not to say he doesn't need to work a bit on his etiquette--and show me the puppy who doesn't.

Big or small, puppies are all fascinated with older dogs--some are very submissive with them, some may try to be dominant, and many will be both at the same time, which can be pretty confusing--note that in the last photo, the fur on Max's rump is erect--he wants to play ball, and while he's fine with having Aron around, he doesn't want his space invaded. Aron, on the other hand, wants to get as close to Max as possible, but of course Max can run about twice as fast. One thing Rotties are not bred for is speed.

As more and more dogs arrived, Aron had to try and figure out where he stood in relation to each. And us humans had to watch them carefully, to make sure the sizing-up process didn't take a bad turn. It ultimately ended up taking a rather comic turn.

Bear in mind that for dogs, mounting is only overtly sexual when one of them is in heat. It's mainly about trying to establish dominance--females will frequently mount males. Males may mount other males--at the wrong end. What the dog is really doing is trying to find out how much the other dog will put up with. If the other dog tolerates the mounting, it may not mean he's submitting--it may simply mean he doesn't want to make a big deal out of it.

Sundance the collie mix isn't even half Aron's weight, but his response to Aron's powerful puppy vibe was to try and dominate HIM.

Then Aries, one of our all time favorite Black Labs showed up--and things got REALLY confusing.

Don't even go there.

If you had a tail like this, wouldn't you feel pretty cocky?

"I'll take youse both on at once!"

"Ah, the kid's okay. Now that he knows it's the size of the fight in the dog."

Next up--Jack Johnson, Danny Boy, Brindle, Storm, Smarties, Tender--it was a big morning.

(All photos taken by Yolanda Garcia)

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