I’ve never been around this many dogs in one place before. Dozens of Golden Retrievers running, playing, and lounging in the sun.
Holly, Kali, and I had the recent pleasure of joining other Golden owners and their dogs at an annual picnic hosted by Jill who heads up a Northern CA rescue group. Partnering with other groups, notably the group in Taiwan where Kali was rescued, Jill and other volunteers coordinate the rescue and adoption of dozens and dozens of Golden’s each year. This annual gathering of Goldens, many from Taiwan, was very cool.
If you’ve followed Kali since she arrived almost a year ago you know that she has a lot of anxiety around other dogs. Her leash aggression is much better but she still becomes anxious and barks a lot when around another dog. Or dogs…. So this play day for Kali was a little stressful but overall I think a good experience for her. But, this post is not about Kali as much as it is about the dynamics and similarities I saw between a half acre full of Goldens and a playground full of elementary school age kids or a birthday party at the park.
Like a playground full of kids there was a flurry of activity and distinct types of personalities. But this playground was set up for dogs. There was plenty of grass, dirt, and room to run. There were open areas to explore and spots to lie in the shade. There were dozens of tennis balls for chasing and several wading pools to splash around in.
There was the group of “kids” playing ball with whoever would throw it for them. This reminded me of the baseball game I played as a kid called “three flies up” where someone hits a ball in the air and the first kid in the group to catch three becomes the new batter.
There were kids who were more inclined to swimming. Like many young children whose parents have to coax them out of the water to rest or eat there were lots of dogs who enjoyed hanging out in the wading pools, splashing around, and cooling off.
Some dogs just wandered around greeting both fellow fur babies and owners. Whenever a new dog would enter the play area there was a flurry of activity by the gate as the new “kid” arrived. The entrance to the play area is crafted in a way that there are always double gates for the dogs to enter and exit through so there is no chance of accidental escape or separation. It was great to have many of the wanderers come up to me and say hello with a wag of the tail and sniff. Just like kids who will talk your ear off these dogs were anxious to say hello, socialize, and tell me about their latest adventure.
In the shady areas there were dogs resting or sleeping or hanging back with mom or dad seemingly content to watch the others play just like kids at a birthday party or play group. And then there were the awkward kids, just as lovable and precious, but a little unsure of how to fit in. This was Kali as she hung in the background, barked when she got nervous, and spent time exploring on her own not knowing how to make friends. Kali seemed most at ease when she was with me and Holly off to the side. Or, maybe that’s just me projecting my interpretation of Kali’s insecurities on her…
It was very cool to see some dogs in person who I first saw in pictures when they were still in Taiwan getting ready for adoption. How gratifying for so many people, especially the rescue group volunteers , to see all these healthy and happy dogs all together knowing where they came from and the challenges, and sometimes abuse, they had to endure.
I’m so glad that in a small way Holly, Kali, and I could be part of this great day but more significantly, a part of a group of great people who are doing great things and making a difference. A difference for these golden beauties who are filled with love, gratitude, and the wisdom of a soul who has endured, in many cases, great hardship.