I quit taking Maisy to the dog park long ago. There were a lot of reasons for this, but my main one was that she just didn't enjoy it. She didn't really play with the other dogs, and generally seemed kind of stressed while we were there, so I figured she was more of a loner.
Well, she's not.
My friend Elizabeth had me, Megan, and Jane over for supper last night, and of course we brought dogs. All told, there were five dogs: Maisy, Beckett the greyhound, Buzz the English springer spaniel, Boomer the lab, and Fritz who is probably a lab/shepherd mix.
I think we were all a bit worried about how it would go. I was worried because of Maisy's reactivity and spotty history at the dog park, Elizabeth was worried because Maisy sort of hops like a rabbit (and she has a greyhound), and Megan was worried because Fritz plays with his paws, and Maisy was, by far, the smallest of the group.
The beauty of hanging out with dog people, as opposed to the variable nature of the folks who go to the dog park, is that we were all very attentive to our dogs. In fact, I think Elizabeth and Megan were more protective of Maisy than I was! We were careful to introduce dogs one at a time. We allowed the big dogs to run around and blow off some steam before Maisy joined the group. Beckett wore a muzzle when he got too excited, and time outs were given when someone got too rambunctious.
In the end, everyone got along really well. Maisy does a really good job of communicating to the other dogs when she needs more space, but she does it appropriately. She also responded well when other dogs told her to back off just a bit, and again, they did it appropriately. I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to let Maisy play off leash, and know that the other owners aren't going to freak out, or stand by and do nothing.
Maisy still isn't a dog park dog- there are just too many variables that I can't control- but it's nice to know that she can play with other dogs from time to time.