One of the most pleasant surprises I've had with the kids has been going to the dog park. We discovered the dog park for our ridiculously excited 75lb yellow Lab (which by the way is HUGE for a Lab) when Anne was 18 months old. Although in those days we went to the dog park out of necessity-for at 6 months old Winnie was in the midst of excitable puppy time-and now we go for fun-though Winnie still is quite excitable and has tons of energy, she has calmed down just a bit by 3 years old.
When we went when Anne was 18 months old, we took her-John and I-a few times but mostly I took Winnie on my own. The following summer, when she was two (and Jamie was a tiny little fetus in my tummy), I took Anne and Winnie on my own, during the week, and it was surprisingly lovely. We had a great time walking around the 7 acre field with bushes and trees spread throughout. Before I took Anne on my own, I thought it might be torture, after all, a dogpark is for dogs, not little kids. But Anne had such a great time without any source of entertainment except nature and her imagination. Last year we didn't go at all-I didn't think there was any way to handle a toddler, infant and crazy, huge dog. Yesterday was the first time I took both kids and Winnie to the dog park and again, it did not disappoint. Although I could not play with Anne at all-she would have loved to have played "Monster"-we still had such a lovely time walking around, enjoying the outdoors. Jamie, who loves dogs and cats, had a great time petting and kissing all the dogs (as a general rule, nearly every dog at the dog park is friendly and good with kids. In fact there is a rule that "aggressive dogs" like Rottweilers, Dobermans and Pit-bulls are not allowed. As a mom of 2 small kids, I am very grateful for that!) Winnie, of course, nearly wet herself with excitement of other dogs and lots and lots of open space. We will definitely be trekking back there this summer and fall. Next time I'll be better prepared, bringing a backpack carrier for Jamie so afterwards we can explore a little more without the little man having to cover all the distance on his own two, short, chubby little legs.