I’m in a routine of going to the dog park most every evening to let my babies run and play. Apparently, lots of us dog owners are creatures of habit because I always see the same people there, including a friendly dog park regular in her 60s named Ginger.
I’d been bringing my baby Kaiah to the park for a while and recently introduced Grayson, my newest baby, to this routine.
Grayson’s looks can be intimidating. At 75 pounds with a huge head, enormous paws and a thick gray coat of fur, most people think he is actually a wolf. They soon learn, however, that he is a gentle giant, as he tends to run away when other dogs (no matter the size) bark at him.
During his first trip to the dog park, a Chihuahua chased him around the park. Grayson ran with his tail between his legs, continually looking back to see if the dog was still coming. Once he figured out that it was play, he started romping around with the other dogs, and he'd bark in hopes they would chase him.
As it happens with dogs, a couple of them figured it was time to show Grayson they were the boss — by humping him.
At first, Grayson just stood there with a look like, "What the heck is going on?"
One of the dogs was Max, a very large, 70-pound Labradoodle, who belonged to Ginger.
Usually when she is leaving, Ginger says her goodbyes to everyone and casually leaves. During one of Grayson’s first visits, we were all sitting there and witnessed Max’s first "encounter" with Grayson.
At this time, they were just jumping and kind of wrestling with each other. Grayson thought it would be OK to "mouth" like dogs do, and while he was doing this, Ginger turned and saw it. Her mouth gaped open; her eyes got huge and she said, "Look at his teeth! He really is a wolf. Come on, Max! Let's get out of here. He'll rip your lungs out!"
She reached down, grabbed Max's collar and left the dog park in a hurry. The whole way down the sidewalk, she was saying, "Those teeth are huge! He really can rip a lung out!"
The three of us who were left there were laughing hysterically — to the point of tears. It really didn't help when Ginger was backing out, still yelling the same things from inside her vehicle.
Author's note: Ginger later realized that it was Grayson’s intimidating looks that freaked her out, not his personality. Now, she is one of the first to tell newcomers that he is a big teddy bear — or a sheep in wolf's clothing.
Largo and nearby dog parks:
- Largo Paw Place: Paw Place is one of the best dog parks in Largo. It is located in Northeast Park on East Bay Drive. There's agility equipment, a walking path, bathrooms, drinking fountains and dog drinking fountains. The park is open from sunrise to sunset.
- : (12615 102nd Ave. N.) When you get to Walsingham Park, follow the signs to the dog park. There are grills, picnic tables, water fountains, restrooms and a boat launch area. Enter from Walsingham Road or 102nd Avenue North. The park is open from sunrise to sunset.
- (1100 Eighth Ave. SW) This park's walking paths make it a great place to walk your dogs. Dogs must be on a leash. Although there are no official facilities for dogs and no beach, it's a great place to hang out with your pooch. There are picnic/barbecue areas, playgrounds, benches and public restrooms. The park is open from sunrise to sunset.
- (101 Central Park Dr.) Like Taylor Park, it has no designated dog area. However, Largo Central Park's ample green space makes it a great place to walk your dog, play fetch and enjoy the park's other amenities like a new state-of-the-art playground, walking paths and memorial. The park is open from sunrise to sunset.
- Indian Rocks Beach Nature Preserve Dog Park: On Gulf Boulevard between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, Indian Rocks Beach Nature Preserve has a small fenced-in area for dogs. The park is open from sunrise to sunset.