Helicopter Dog Moms

Kristi Keller


Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash

When I go to the off-leash dog park, there’s a reason for it. The reason is to celebrate the fact that I have a domesticated wild animal and the dog park is the only place where it’s legal for her to be wild.

Dogs were feral wolves before they were bred to be our couch mates. The least we can do is let them be wild in a space created specifically for that purpose.

If you’re a helicopter dog mom you should take a flying leap in the other direction and let me have fun watching my own dog behave like a barbarian. It’s in her blood. Leave her alone.

My dog, Dezi, is a well-trained mutt when she’s supposed to be but she definitely has her berserk moments when she’s with her own tribe. If she were any of the dogs in the feature image above, she’d be the smart-ass one in the middle.

Dezi is a 70-pound Shepherd mix and her pack consists of other dogs much larger than her.

Alfred is her 90-pound boyfriend and the two are definitely each other’s spirit animals. Alfred’s mom and I regularly meet up and let our two hounds beat the crap out of each other. It’s like watching a National Geographic documentary to see which wild animal ends up dead in the end.

Spoiler alert: Neither one of them end up dead, and so we meet again the next day.


Image by K. Keller

Dogs know how other dogs operate and they teach each other limits through their own language. They communicate and regulate each other in ways we can’t comprehend.

If the owners know what they’re doing, they’re also able to communicate effectively with their dogs. We don’t need to be pre-schooled by helicopter dog moms.

If you are one of these dog moms, you do you, boo. Leave me and Dezi out of it. We were born to be wild.

Today, Alfred was busy so Dezi and I went to the dog park alone. I certainly don’t mind a peaceful stroll once in a while. It’s nice to be able to enjoy the park without worrying about 160 combined pounds of canine barreling into my legs when I’m not looking.

However, if you go to the dog park alone you can 100% bank on pairing off with another human because your dog picks who they want to romp with. Then you’re stuck with the other human, regardless of how you feel about them.

Today, Dezi chose two labs with the dreaded helicopter mom. This woman had the most shrill, repetitive, panicky, over-friggin-protective recall commands I’ve ever heard.

She was so high strung over what her dogs were doing that I consistently stayed twenty paces ahead of her just to avoid conversation.

Dezi doesn’t care to play ball but she will steal other dog’s balls just to encourage a chase. That’s her game. She loves the chase because she loves other dogs.

Helicopter mom had a chuck-it stick and ball for her dogs. Each time she’d lob the ball a mile away her dogs would bolt and of course, Dezi bolted after them.

Every once in a while Dezi would beat the dogs and grab the ball, which is common at dog parks. When she’d win the race I’d yell, “Nice grab Dezi! You got the ball!”

Then the lady would say, “Oh it’s okay, that’s how she plays,” as if I don’t know how my own dog plays.

Every so often Dezi and the younger lab would get in a playful tussle. When wrestling, if a dog is finished they’ll growl or snap at the other dog and the game stops. That’s how they tell each other they’ve had enough.

The young lab did this to Dezi and of course, she backed off like she’s supposed to. Completely normal behavior, I watch it every single day.

The woman then said to me, “See!! Did you see how Dezi backed off? She understood my dog.”

I replied to her, verbatim, “She’s not a dummy you know. She knows how to play.”

One of her dogs jumped over a one-foot high little garden fence in the park and the woman bragged about how her dog is agility trained.

So I waved my hand near a FOUR-foot high concrete planter box and Dezi scaled it in one fluid, graceful leap. My dog is not agility trained. She’s just really cool and free-spirited.

I enjoyed watching the woman try to wrangle her dogs in by coddling and bribing them with treats. While she was yelling at her dogs to come and sit, there was my girl Dezi, sitting pretty and paying full attention to her.

I don’t need to brag about my dog nor do I care about how she’s behaving at the dog park. I am there to let her be wild because she deserves it. I know she’s a fun-loving, non-aggressive dog and there’s nothing for me to worry about.

So, consider this a PSA. If you ever see me at the dog park and feel a need to school me on my own dog’s behavior…please…save your breath.

I already know. We’re doing fine without you.

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I'm an old school travel writer who's been flung into another writing world through life experience. I have a compassionate eye, a different opinion, and strong words for this world we live in. I also know a thing or two.


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