Troy called this morning to let me know that Claire asked if Barkley could go to the park, so I hopped out of bed, packed our gear, and drove on up to the Indy Humane Society’s Bark Park. We’ve been wanting to sign Barkley up for a long time, but we couldn’t decide if we wanted to go with Indy Parks or the Humane Society. The Broad Ripple Bark Park—part of the Indy Parks system—always seemed so busy, and we heard horror stories of friends who took their dog there only to notice lots of nicks taken out of him by other dogs while playing. But we admittedly have some ideological differences with the Humane Society that gave us pause before handing 50 bucks their way. Eventually, we made our decision when John and Troy signed Miss Claire up at the IHS Bark Park. So today, I was on my way, vaccination records and debit card in hand ready to let Barkley indulge in some off-leash recreation.
Thankfully, Troy offered to be Barkley’s handler while I filled out the requisite paperwork. Rabies shot…check. Bordetella, distemper…check. Neutered…yes, sir. But not so fast. The girl at the desk informed me that Barkley’s record actually had to show in writing that he was, indeed, male and neutered. At that point, I was feeling a little miffed. I wanted to tell the lady, “Lift tail…take a look. You’ll answer both of your questions.” Instead, however, I politely asked if I could call my veterinarian to see if she could fax the information. Once I had the administrative details squared away, I went back outside to fetch the dog, and we were ready to go. [Funny side note: Troy informed me later that Barkley took the opportunity while waiting outside to mark both of the pet memorials on the grounds…shameless.]
John and Claire were already inside the park area, so we headed that way and let the two pups enjoy a little meet and greet. At first, I was nervous that Barkley would be a too rough with Claire, given his obvious size advantage and uber-exuberance for meeting new canine friends, but she definitely let Barkley know the she was no pushover. And after only a short time, they were like old friends who just happened to enjoy sniffing each other’s bums and splashing through enormous mud puddles. While Barkley has about forty pounds on Claire, she more than dominates in speed—so all things considered, it was a pretty even match up.
Things didn’t get too crazy until Sarah, a beautiful Llewellin Setter, came onto the scene. I’m not sure if Barkley was jealous that someone else was going to take away from Claire’s affections towards him, but he got a little snippy with Sarah. So it was back on the leash until he could learn to “play nice” with the new gal. Eventually, he calmed down, and the three of them were off to the races. By the time Foster and Scruffy showed up—both large Australian Shepherds—I couldn’t determine if Barkley was too tired or finally acclimated enough to not raise much of a fuss. We stuck around for a little while longer until it was time to pack it in and hit the road. Covered in mud and happily panting away, Barkley hopped in the back seat and rested his head on the console the entire way back.
It wasn’t until we stopped at the Starbucks drive-through that he finally perked up enough to get a bone from the barista. As I fiddled around with getting my bank card back into my wallet, the barista said, “Hey, I didn’t notice that he had brown in him.” Puzzled, I thought for a moment about what he said before realizing that what he saw was the mud caked onto Barkley’s fur. When I informed the pink-haired barista that the “brown” was actually mud, he casually replied, “Oh…I thought maybe he just had brown highlights!!” [Hmm…making a mental note of potential new business venture.]
All things considered, I’m glad I dragged my tush out of bed and finally signed our boy up. Of course, Barkley still seems to be recuperating from the exhaustion, but as they say…a tired dog is a happy dog. Amen.