When Tim first died, it felt like all the joy in the world had been sucked out of the world in an instant. I soon learned that I could still feel happiness during this grieving period, but I had to look for it really hard. One outing we did to bring some smiles was take Pascale to a local Austin spot, “Barking Springs.”
It’s something Tim and I had talked about doing for years, but BT isn’t good off leash and Eliot is too aggressive to play with the other dogs. We mentioned taking Pascale, but felt like Eliot would be really upset left alone at the house. On Friday, I decided Eliot could just deal with being a little upset and my friend and I loaded up Pascale with some drinks and my camera.
Barking Springs is an unofficial off leash dog park that is made up of the runoff from the water of Barton Springs Pool. The pool is fed by a natural spring, so the runoff area is a mix of a rushing creek and natural wading pool. It’s all taken over by a mix of dogs, children, people and the occasional group of annoying drunk homeless people… but it wouldn’t be Austin without drunk homeless people. That’s just how we roll here.
My friend and I watched the dogs play for about two hours. At first Pascale was pretty timid. She would run behind other dogs and of course, sniff a lot of butts.
She also loved wading in the water that was up to her chest. Not a huge swimmer, Pascale prefers to just splash around and enjoy being cool in the Texas summer. One thing she did that made me laugh was take her nose and run it through the water like a plow.
After some time, Pascale got a bit braver. She found some dogs that were playing fetch, and one of her favorite games at home is to chase Eliot when we play fetch in the back yard. This game continued at Barking Springs when she found a retrieving obsessed Labrador. The lab would chase the stick its owner through, and Pascale would chase after the lab. She said it was delightful fun.
Dogs are incredible creatures in a lot of ways, but mostly how they have the ability to be boundlessly happy. They have simple emotions, and don’t hide them. Happy dogs are happy dogs. If you stay around them long enough, you can’t help but catch a little bit of that happiness.