I tend to go on about how special our dog park is, with friendlier dogs and a friends-and-family atmophere. I know everyone at the park feels that way, but it was brought home again pretty forcefully last night, by two separate encounters.
It was an evening visit, just before 8:00, a beautiful summer night in spite of the late hour. As I strolled around, a young Rhodesian ridgeback came and gave me a hesistant sniff. I reached out to stroke her head, but she backed off, scared, and went to her owner. The woman, who I didn’t know, smiled at me and say, “She’s still young and she’s just timid.”
“That’s fine,” I said, “as long as she’s gentle.”
“Oh, of course,” she answered, reassuring me. “Almost all the dogs at this park are wonderful.”
I resisted the temptation to say, “That’s what I keep saying in my blog.”
Later, we were joined by our friend Morris and his owners. While we are well acquainted with Morris’s gentleman owner, we’d never met his wife before. They all recently moved to the country, and we won’t be seeing much of them soon, which is sad for us. Morris and his owner were among our first dog park friends, and the kids are crazy about him (as am I– equally fond of dog and man). As we chatted about the upcoming changes and how Morris and his people will be missed, the wife said how much she loves this park, unlike some others in the city.
“Don’t ever go to the dog park in SJH,” she warned, mentioning a middle- to upper-middle class neighbourhood about a half-hour drive away. I know it well– full of yummy mummies and snobs of all stripes. “They’re all, ‘My dog this,’ and ‘My dog that.'” She leaned in closer. “And they don’t pick up after their dogs.”
She need say no more.
For a place with no lock, no membership requirements, no way to keep out the riff-raff and no way to be by-invitation only, we’ve managed to build a pretty special place for our pets and ourselves. It comes to down to expecting standards and maintaining them. No one gets thrown out, but, just as a slob like me will feel out of place with the yummy mummies of SJH, the yummy mummies won’t like the looks they get if they come to our space and leave their poop lying around. And in our dog park, we tell our friends how wonderful their dogs are– we don’t brag about our own. (Well, maybe a little, sometimes… but only with encouragement.)
We’ll stay where we are, and we’ll enjoy it every chance we get– me, the kids, the Spouse, the buddies we’ve made, and of course, Our Best Friend.