a day in the park - at ease

We noticed how much more relaxed the dogs seemed in the park. In the streets they were always a little wary - with good reason - but when we walked in the park with them they would run, explore, play in ways we had not seen before. Bella, in particular, seemed much more at ease in the park than on the streets.

The first picture shows why she was also known to us as 'big dog' - she weighed in at over 90 pounds at this time. Despite her gentle demeanour she was ferocious when it came to food. She expected and enforced her privileges on the garbage piles. She took what she wanted and all other dogs were expected to defer to her. Failure to do so resulted in a brief but spectacular assault in which Bella, using her full weight, always prevailed.

Her weight was a serious concern. The first time the dogs followed us to the park, Bella barely made it. There was a short but steep slope, part of a dam that created the 'artificial lake' (it was actually called that), that led into the park itself. Bella dragged herself to the top of the slope and literally collapsed in a heap. I genuinely thought she had done herself harm. We had to wait there until she got her breath back before we could move on. Over time, walking with us, she got a little healthier, though she continued to feast on the garbage and never really lost weight until much later when we took more control of her life.

Taken on 26 March 2006.


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