A long while back, the very funny Lela Davidson (published author and general rock star) wrote a blog post called We Are Dog Park Villains, in which she made two unfortunately erroneous statements.
The first was that her dog, Libby, is the cutest dog in the world. Obviously, she’s never met Sadie.
But, that’s a forgivable error. The second was casting her family as the villains of the episode at the dog park. They weren’t. The villains were the annoying people who let their dogs escape, and then yelled at Lela’s kids about it.
Reading Lela’s post got me thinking about dog parks, and the cast of characters that show up there. It’s a rich tapestry of cute and crazy, and I absolutely love it. Most of the time. Except for those times when the people there drive me nuts. Which happens…well…often.
Notice I didn’t say the DOGS drive me nuts. No, no, like the judgmental soul that I am, I place bad behavior of dogs solely at the feet of their humans. But that’s a debate for another time.
So, let’s meet some of the regulars at the local dog park.
Clarissa the Clueless: Clarissa is the college student who’s parents got her a dog to keep her company, and who has absolutely no idea what she’s doing. She’s often surrounded by a bunch of fellow Cluelesses, and wears sweat pants with some word emblazoned on the butt. Her puppy (it’s always a puppy) is usually adorable and generally obnoxious, in a cute way.
Paul the Proud: Paul thinks he’s the best dog owner in the world. Paul says things like “I don’t believe in obedience training.” Trust us, Paul, we can tell.
Helen the Hippie: Helen fancies herself to be a dog whisperer. She carries treats, wears flip flops even though the dirt she’s getting between her toes has been peed on at least 700 times in the last month, and her dogs are usually friendly and calm. And a little scruffy.
Ike the Indignant: Ike’s dogs are badly behaved, but not according to Ike. For example, when a dog is in another dog’s face, basically saying “You wanna piece of me?” and the 2nd dog growls or snaps, Ike glares at the owner and pulls his dog away, saying “Come on, Lucifer, he’s obviously not friendly.”
Tom the Tolerant: Tom is a nice guy, and his dogs are friendly. Often too friendly; they tend to jump on you, and Tom just smiles and says “I wish they wouldn’t do that.” But he’s so nice about it you just smile and brush the paw prints off your face or bandage the claw marks on your arm – you just can’t hate Tom.
Sally the Social: Socials exist everywhere, but they are particularly evident at the dog park. Sally can talk to anyone. She usually has a group of people clustered around her, and they are laughing and talking as if they are best of friends. Their dogs could be on phase 3 of their escape plan (chewing the fence in shifts while keeping a lookout) and they probably wouldn’t notice.
Lucy the Loner: Lucy keeps to herself, more or less. She can often be found on the far side of the park, away from the crowds. She will sometimes walk laps around the perimeter, and her dogs tend to be similar, staying mostly out of the fray. Because of all the walking she does, she’s the most likely to have stepped in a fresh pile of you-know-what.
Really, though, when it gets down to it, there are only two types of people at the dog park.
Villains, the like folks in Lela’s story who don’t recognize that: a) Their dog just took a huge dump and they should go clean it up, and b) It’s their job to watch their dog, monitor it and keep it out of trouble.
And the rest of us, who try do all of the above, with varying degrees of success, mind you, but at least we try.
Are you any of the folks I described? Or are you another cast member of Dog Park Tales? Let me know below, and when I option the script, I’ll make sure you get a credit.