A Walk in the Park

natureCrisp, golden leaves rustled in the breeze and scattered on the path as I headed towards the park. Up ahead a man was walking his black lab.

Suddenly, the dog started to bark loudly and strain at the leash. Hidden from sight in a backyard bordering the path, another dog barked back. The lab growled and pulled even harder towards the yard.

Now I understood why such a thick leash was needed. I felt intimidated by the show of aggression and was grateful to be able to pass by while the dog was distracted.

A few days later, in the center of the park, I came up behind what looked like the same man and dog. The distinctive thick, red plaid leash affirmed this but this time the lab was calm and meandered along, sniffing the grass beside the pathway.

A boy zipped past on a scooter and the noise caused the lab to look up. Ahead, where two paths intersected, were three separate families, walking their dogs.

The lab quickly began to bark, growl and strain at its leash. The owner tightened his grip and did his best to hold his dog still. It was quite a task as the docile dog of moments before changed into an aggressive, snarling beast. The sudden change was remarkable.

On my way out of the park, I figured out the reason for the personality change. A sign stated that coyotes had been seen in the area. It also detailed what to do if you encountered one of these wild animals.

The lab was obviously intelligent enough to read the sign. It was now honing the new skills of being loud and making yourself look bigger. This practice on other dogs would ensure it was prepared, should an encounter with a coyote be ahead. Clever dog! I’d say it’s ready!

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