Patti Soldavini

Non-Verbal Cues

In weimaraners on 05/07/2011 at 5:11 pm

"READ my lips."

This morning, Olive and I got to the dog park at around 8am. As we approach the large dog section, a pit bull is waiting to greet us. He starts to become agitated as if Olive’s mere presence has signaled the start of a boxing match. “Is he friendly,” I ask the dog’s owner? “He’s a little iffy,” he says as the dog starts to foam at the mouth and go into full ninja warrior mode. The best way to describe the dog’s aggressive actions and sounds is to call it BLOOD THIRSTY. Is this guy NUTS I think? There’s nothing IFFY about this behavior. Clearly this is a guy who has trouble reading non-verbal signals. He’s probably divorced. “I think we’ll go in the section for small dogs,” I say as I steer Olive as far away from the fence as I can. I’m not sure my friendly pooch has yet recognized that the pit bull wants to eat her…with some fava beans and a nice bottle of Chianti. We join the four-month old poodle mix and her owners who have come to the park for the first time. Olive’s overly-friendly exuberant energy scares the poor dog and the owners, rightfully cautious, pick up their pooch. We chat for a little while before they leave and Olive and I make our way into the empty section for large dogs. Olive starts running around like she’s all by herself under the bright sun warming the great Wyoming Plains. I pick up a ratty communal tennis ball to throw to her. Howard Hughes-like, I shudder at the thought of all the bacteria squirming all over this ball, but think “The hell with it. She’s a dog. She’s always got her nose in some other dog’s poop.” Olive races after the ball like a fire engine screaming down a suburban road. She skids to a dusty stop, picks up the ball, trots a few yards with it, then drops it. Typical Olive. From what I’ve read, most Weims think chasing a ball is stupid. She’d probably hate golf, then. I think she figures she’s caught something and then realizes it’s not prey, so what am I wasting my time for? Thankfully, within a few minutes her friend Gabby arrives, a friendly black dog of mixed origin. They run together, box each other, sometimes jumping over and under each other until they look like two kids tangled up in a game of Twister. Olive is so tuckered out today that she’s panting and dripping saliva. I give her a drink from a water bottle which she sloppily slurps up and I put her prong collar back on her, which is much easier when you’re not wearing winter gloves. We make our way back to the car. Olive hops into the back of the hatch, I tell her to “Sit,” and “Stay” which she does on command while I close the hatch. I barely see her through the tinted back window, but it’s enough to see the bright, happy, trusting expression on her face which says, “That was fun. Where are we off to now?”

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