By Rikki Cheese, news anchor for KTNV, Channel 13

My Akitas adore each other. However, they don’t always like other dogs. So, I am constantly on the prowl for an empty dog run.

I prefer small dog runs because it’s easier to catch my massive pups if they refuse to obey the “come” command when it’s time to go home. Plus, you can park next to small dog runs, and I’m lazy.

Small dog owners tend to be early risers, so I knew I was pushing it when I took Akira and Apollo to the small dog run at Police Memorial Park at 4 a.m. I had just gotten them inside when an elderly man drove up in a Lincoln Continental from the 1970s and stepped outside with two small dogs.

Busted. Bad dog park etiquette on my part.

I yelled out, “You can have the run. Just stay there and let me get my dogs back into my car.”

The guy didn’t say a word as I walked the fur babies out of the run. We were literally an arm’s length away from my car when one of his dogs broke his leash and charged toward us.

Bam! Apollo and Akira pulled me off my feet. My chest hit the grass, which, fortunately, had just been watered. Next thing I know, the small dog is running rings around us, and I’m booby-surfing with a dog on each leash.

All I could think was, “Where are the people with camera phones? This crazy scene could go viral!” I laughed as I surfed, writing my own headline: “News anchor’s Akitas have her going in circles.”

It seemed to go on forever, but fortunately, another man with a black Lab drove up next to my car and asked if I needed some help.

“Yes! Grab one!”

He grabbed Akira, helped me get back on my feet, and we were able to get the dogs into the car.

The elderly man never said a word. He didn’t ask if I was OK. He just walked his dogs into the run and sat down.

When I shared my story with friends, most of whom have dogs, they were outraged. I just laughed.

“Look at it from his perspective,” I said. “It’s 4 a.m. and a woman with quarter horses with fur and fangs is at your favorite park. Would you approach me? I don’t think so.”

City of Las Vegas marshals have told me they spend a great deal of time breaking up dog park fights between owners, not canines. The posted rules address size and protocols per run, but they don’t address owner behavior. Many owners assume that all dogs will get along and their dogs are safe in the park.
My favorite phrase shouted at me is, “My dog is friendly!” However, some dogs simply aren’t dog park material; they do better in more structured environments. Dog parks are meant to allow canines to socialize, but they also must be supervised. We’ve all seen the owners who are so into their phones that they miss the signals that the play is about to go south.

Southern Nevada has some of the best dog parks in the country, partly because so many of our parks are relatively new, and dog parks have become standard.

We all have a responsibility to share them safely. Even at 4 a.m.

Rikki Cheese
Rikki Cheese
Rikki Cheese co-hosts Valley View Live weekdays from 2 to 3 p.m., Action News Live from 3 to 4 p.m. and anchors live updates on Action News at 5, 6 and 6:30 p.m. Contact her by email at and follow on Twitter and Instagram.