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Brooklyn Rebellion Dogs! Smile (For Me)!


a blogumn by Shante Paradigm

One of the immense joys of being a dog owner, is learning what activities and objects make my dog happy. Tilo, is a pretty funny dog, he has lots of quirks and he’s incredibly sensitive and eager to please. This goes a long way in making him trainable and desensitizing him to his triggers (negative associations).


Tilo smiling at the dog park

However, Tilo, is not a “smiley” dog–except when at the dog park. Well, that’s not totally true, I can get him pretty happy and into a game of a ball at home (where he is most comfortable and well-behaved), but he is less sure of himself on the street: suspicious of strangers, looking around, but more and more friendly to all dogs regardless of size and breed and letting joggers pass unmolested. ( I pray for the day when the dreaded skateboarders are no longer tantamount to an invading army, but they seem to be a general aversion among young dogs). Tilo is at his happiest in the park, and not just his daily Fort Greene Park runs, but his new weekend park, Hillside Dog Park.

I discovered Hillside after being told about it by various dog owners and the way they gushed about the most cherished of dog experiences: a thoroughly exhausted and sleeping pet. YAY! Knowing I didn’t have time to take to Mr. Tilo to Hillside daily (it’s an hour walk round trip) and suspecting Tilo would probably want to stay at least an hour (at least mom!!), I decided we would go on Sundays. This past Sunday was our third week and Tilo’s already made friends, fallen in love a few times and immediately realizes when we turn the corner down Flushing Avenue, we’re heading to Hillside.

Now, I’m not usually a fan of dog runs–they are often bastions for fights and inappropriate human behavior (laziness, not paying attention, bringing a dog not ready for such a small space), but this one seems well-run, clean and there are lots of happy, well-behaved dogs.My guy is at his best: running, jumping (and barking), kissing, wrestling, trotting behind bigger dogs, ignoring the little ones who try and play with him.
For me, the biggest joy is the HUGE smile on my guy’s face. You have to understand, Tilo, really doesn’t smile that often and it makes me sad as I know he doesn’t yet feel 100% safe on the street. I know he’ll get there, but still…After 1-2 hours at Hillside, he’s still ready to run (the Boxer-Plott Hound mix makes for a verrrrrrrrryyyyy active dog), but he’s settled, he can walk past any dog and not bark, he is keen to listen to me, he still notices his biggest trigger (the guys who clean the streets , or any man with garbage bags and brooms), but he seems less afraid.

People say really sweet things like how I’m such a “good dog mom,” but it’s self-interest plain and simple: a happy, smiling Tilo makes my life (and his) so much more enjoyable; it lowers everyone’s frustration level, and teaches him valuable lessons about the rewards of good behavior.

I’m looking forward to summer and the longer days when I can take him to Hillside more often, but for now, I’ll just enjoy the occasional, brilliant smile of my sweet dog.