Every time I go out for a walk I see people walking their dogs. The dogs always look so excited at the prospect of meeting another person (Yay! Someone else who can give me attention!). They look up with anticipation and try to come over to say hello. I’ve had dogs run up to me on and off their leads. One morning a particularly boisterous fully grown German Shepherd made a beeline for me in a park, off his lead. Having grown up in South Africa where dogs aren’t only pets but also guard dogs, any random dog charging you was something to be wary of. For a split second I wasn’t sure what to think and then realised that everything about this big boy’s bouncing body language was pure playfulness. All he wanted to do was say hello. On another occasion a puppy ran up to me and just wanted to play. His owner was right there in their driveway but pup didn’t want me to continue on my walk. After I stopped and played for a minute he just wanted to play some more.
Every day people are out walking their dogs and the dogs get even more excited when they spot a fellow canine. They run over and sniff hello with tails wagging. Some days the dogs are friendlier than their owners and one can’t help but think that the dogs of Perth are very friendly. Of course there are exceptions. We’ve had a couple of encounters with unfriendly dogs but the general dog population is very sociable. And ranger services are reassuringly very efficient.
Every park and dog beach (there are allocated beaches where dogs are allowed as they’re not allowed on all beaches) has little plastic bags and bins handy for owners to pick up and dispose of their dogs’ business which makes it a very dog-friendly place. Add to that the great outdoors climate we have and you have a recipe for happy dogs and happy owners. The dogs love going to the dog beach, there are so many other dogs to play with and smells to investigate. We go to our local dog beach once a week and the park a few times a week and our dogs love it. They get to run free off their leads. Tessa in particular, loves the ocean and will run into the water on her short little legs and sometimes the waves will crash over her. It could be the middle of winter but she doesn’t go to the beach without going for a swim. Zeta doesn’t love the water as much but loves running as fast as she can with ears pulled back so she looks like a miniature greyhound. They love the freedom. Tessa is always watching out for another dog that looks like it’s having more fun than her and then she stays with that dog, regardless of what we’re doing. We might be 50 metres up the beach but she doesn’t care. It’s usually a bigger dog whose owner is throwing a ball far out into the sea for it to go and fetch and Tessa will join in as if she’s always belonged with them, run along as deep into the water as she can and wait for the other dog and repeat it over and over. Every now and again when she’s “adopted” another family like that we have to stop, go back, pick her up and carry her away, otherwise she’ll keep going back there. Under any other circumstances she is the most obedient dog but take her to the dog beach and she suddenly has selective hearing. In an endearing way. At the beach Zeta is actually much better behaved. She sprints, stops, smells something, looks up to see where we are, sprints off again and every now and then she’ll come to us and check in before she goes again.
It’s a great family tradition of ours, the weekly outing to the dog beach. A refreshing walk at the beach – whether it’s in the dead of winter or a balmy summer’s afternoon – while watching the dogs’ delight, is a great way to spend some quality time in the outdoors amongst lots of other friendly dogs. Their happiness in infectious. When they’re happy we’re happy. We laugh about their antics and love seeing them have fun and in the process the joy spreads. For that half an hour or so it’s all about the dogs. And then again, maybe not, since us humans go home feeling very content as well.