The concept of a dog park and consciously providing dogs with an opportunity to socialize with other dogs really is a novelty to me, no matter how urban I try to be. I grew up on a farm with dogs that lived outside always. Our dogs may have socialized with other animals unbeknownst to us, but they generally met their demise at the fangs of a rattlesnake in a socialization experiment gone bad. Well that, or they got hit by a car. Based on that history, it should be no surprise that I'm freaked out about everything Leo puts in his mouth or comes into contact with. In much the same way as I had no real experience with babies before I brought Mac home from the hospital, I have zero experience with "city" dogs who require regular trips to the vet (we had our second today) and play dates at the dog park.
I was also nervous about taking Leo to the dog park because you actually have to take him off the leash there. What if he didn't come back to us? Or found another family he liked better and blew us off? Or what if he turned feral and bit or snapped at dogs? Nobody wants to be kicked out of baby's play group for failure to socialize appropriately and nobody wants to be shunned at the dog park because you brought the bad apple.
No need for Defcon 1 because Leo did great. He was easily the smallest dog there but he never barked or nipped. He ran around like a mad man and wore himself out completely. I think he had a great time and I know he loved being off the leash. AND he kept coming back to Mama every so often.
In the paraphrased words of the Terminator, we'll be back.