Our dog park is large and relaxing. Along with the oval track, there are a few picnic tables, some large shade trees, and a water fountain. The water fountain has a human end at the top and a doggie spout at the bottom, with water bowls on the ground meant for the hounds, but I’ve seen larger breeds put paws up and drink from the human end. Humans don’t drink from the fountain in the park; we bring bottled water, if we remember.
People come from all over the city to use this park. I’m told it’s the best dog park in town. Other parks are too small, the dogs are aggressive, the owners irresponsible. I don’t know why people from those parks don’t show up at ours. Maybe because the regular denizens make them feel unwelcome. Our dog was attacked once by a pit bull mix (a breed technically not allowed at our park). Everyone who knows our dog (and some people who don’t) came running, the pit bull’s owner left in a hurry and has not been seen since.
We don’t tolerate bad behaviour in our park.
Not that it doesn’t happen. Our dog has gotten into a few scraps, mostly over tennis balls. Dog toys and dog parks are usually a bad idea, but every so often someone is tossing a ball and our dog will go for it. He once bit a spaniel on the ear, and he himself got bitten on the muzzle by a German shepherd cross. I apologized to the spaniel’s owner, and the shepherd’s owner was beside himself. We all took responsibility for what our dogs did– dogs will be dogs– and we’re all still friends. (Well, the shepherd is still mad at our dog, but the spaniel forgave and forgot.)
I love the dog park. It’s a break from drudgery, a place to hang out with people who have at least one thing in common– they love dogs. Age, occupation, other hobbies… doesn’t matter. You can always talk about dogs. People stop being clerks and lawyers and teachers and students and just become dog owners. It doesn’t matter if you’re a jock or a nerd, if you have a chihuahua or a Great Dane. If you’re friendly and sociable, if your dog is well-mannered or handsome or even just an ordinary mutt, you’ll be welcome and you’ll make friends. Friends within the borders of our chain-link fence.
That’s the other great quality of the dog park; you’re as anonymous or open as you like. It’s almost like the Internet; you can let everyone in on everything, like a Facebook page, or you can sit quietly on a bench, ignoring the world and not getting involved, like some someone who lurks on the forums but never posts. And, like the Internet, people will only know what you let them see. They don’t really know if you’re married or single, a CEO or unemployed, or even if that’s really your dog or your neighbour’s. So some caution is required; everyone is so nice, so friendly, so open, you want to believe it’s all real, but all you really know is what they’re like at the dog park.
So this blog is about the dog park– the people, the experiences, and, of course, the dogs. Because I haven’t asked for consent, I’m preserving anonymity; I’m not using real names, not even dog names. I’m not identifying the city. Any resemblance to someone you know might be just a coincidence– or not. Really, it’s just about what owning a dog teaches you about people and life, the pleasures and the poop, both part of the human experience.