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We visited a place where we used to live this past week. It has a dog park. A really great dog park. A really great, tail-wagging dog park. We went four days in a row. We played with scores and scores of happy, peaceful dog and their humans.

The dog park is in a pretty small town and gets 40,000 visits each year. That is an astounding number of visits to me. That is an average of 109 visits per day for each day of the year. Given that this dog park is located in serious snow country when some days are not fit for [wo]man nor beast, it is an even more impressive number.

Late last week was the first truly warm, sunny day of the summer. We went to the dog park. We found out that everyone in town was at the dog park. It was a rollicking good time. The dog park is big, it has a 1/3 mile paved human or animal or human-animal partner trail. There is an agility course with tunnels built into great mounds of grass covered dirt. There is a section for little doggies or for doggies who are older or recovering from things that active older doggies do and then have to recover from. There are benches in the sun.

There is a three level water fountain that is built from shiny stainless steel and green enameled outsides. You can turn the faucet on at the bottom and the water runs in a circle for doggies who like their water moving. There is a spout for those that like to lap their water from the air. There is a human spigot and, of course, the communion bowl–that bowl that all dogs line up to lap out of no matter if the water has dirt in it or even if the bowl is empty.

There is a pavilion that looks like it belongs at a picnic area but it is lined at the parameter with seats for human sightseeing but 85% of the space is lovely cool concrete for the hot doggies to loll about on the cool shaded concrete while they get their long tongues panted back into their mouths after dashing around chasing balls, bugs, imaginary things, and, of course, each other.

In four days of visits we did not see or hear any spats–canine or  otherwise.

At the gate there is a very gently worded sign specifying the rules of the dog park. They include the usual, enter and leave the park with your dog on lead. Close the gate, pick up your dog’s poo and monitor your dog’s location in the vast and wonderful playground, be responsible for your dog’s behavior, etc.

The most curious and wonderful thing I saw was a sign that asked humans to resolve conflict with gracefulness. I had never thought of these at a dog park. The rule is: “Handle conflicts with respect, grace and good humor.”

As I thought of it, it is not just a good rule for a dog park. If people have a people park it would be a good rule to have there too. In fact, I think it is a good rule for living life. I shall add this to my backpack of life and carry it with me wherever I go.

red dog in purple jacket running down gray gravel trail tail high in air