There is a dog park, hidden away in the back forty of McAllister Park, a sprawling public park/semi-wilderness area in Northside San Antonio. It is formed by a large fenced area, about half an acre of trees and shrubs, dotted with benches, a pavilion with a concrete table and benches under it, a couple of structures that hopefully the dogs might find amusing to run through or jump on top of and a lavish number of heavy trash cans and dispensers offering what my daughter describes as ‘poopy-bags’. There is a paved path leading around the perimeter of the fenced area, the rest of it being spread with free mulch generated by the city waste disposal department’s industrial-sized tree shredders. Another long paved path leads from a parking lot: on any given afternoon when the weather is fair and mild, and most especially on weekends, that path is alive with leashed dogs and their people. The dogs are normally wild with excitement, for they are either coming from or heading toward their social-hour, play-date or mad-minute. It must be something they look forwards to all the rest of their limited, doggy lives – if they are capable of retaining a pleasurable memory. I rather think they are; at least they know, through constant repetition, that something nice is about to happen. Spike and the Lesser Weevil are insane with excitement every morning when I put on my exercise things; for they know that it means the morning walk is imminent. So when the dogs are decanted from their owner’s cars in the parking lot on the third or forth time around – they must know. By the time they get to the double-gated entry-way enclosure to the park itself they are usually mad with excitement

It was one of our neighbors told us about the park; admittedly, we were nervous when it came to the whole off-the-leash concept when it came to the Lesser Weevil. We know that she is part Boxer; it’s obvious, just to look at her. But we don’t know for sure what the other half is, and suspect that a considerable lashing of what is usually described in screaming headlines as ‘pit bull’ is included in her genetic makeup. She is adoring and lovable to all humans. Without exception everyone she meets is instantly her bestest friend in the whole wide world, and the way she went all gooey and affectionate over the cable guy was quite embarrassing – especially since she is supposed to be a guard/watch dog. No, we have no apprehensions about the Weevil and humans – it’s other dogs, and only now and again in the early months that she took an instant and abiding dislike to another dog on a leash. If she had not also been on a leash herself, and for Blondie or I instantly half-strangling her in the pinch-collar, it might have gotten very ugly. But our neighbor assured us, over and over – that it is all right, the dogs seem to govern themselves very well, off leash, and the more there are of them in the confines of the park, the better they all behave. So we took a chance – and we stuck very close to her that first time, and waited until she had behaved well for the first half-dozen dogs who came romping up for a bit of friendly butt-sniffing.

Weevil still does not play quite so uninhibitedly with the other dogs as some of them do. She will chase a thrown tennis ball and race with some of the others, but she will stay fairly close to Blondie. And Spike basically attaches herself to my ankles, never going much farther than ten feet away, even if there are other small dogs – Shi Tzus, Jack Russells and Chihuahuas and the like who want to play with her. It was quite lively this last Sunday; not least because it seemed to be Big Dog Day. No kidding – don’t they keep insisting that everything is bigger in Texas? Sometimes people tell us that the Weevil is a big dog; no, she actually is rather agreeably medium-sized. On Sunday she looked positively dainty, next to a Newfoundland the size of a small sofa (there were three of them there, that day), two mastiffs who topped out at a couple of hundred pounds each, and a Great Dane who looked big enough to put a saddle on and ride like a horse. No kidding, that last dog’s nose alone was bigger than the smallest dog present – a four-month-old Chihuahua puppy, too small even to be put down on the ground among all those specimens of canine gigantism.

And of course, the Weevil behaved herself – how could she not, when the whole place was seething with dogs; dogs running, chasing tennis balls and each others’ behinds, begging to be played with and petted, and romping in front of, or behind their people making a slow circuit of the path around the park? No, it was a good day and good for her – and kind of a relief to know that Blondie has trained her to obedience well enough to trust her off the leash and with a large number of other dogs.

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