Damn the Dog Park

I have a super cute puppy named Darcy.  She is an 11 pound chihuahua/miniature pinscher/dachshund-mix with high anxiety, cat like attributes and no back feet.  I’ll get more into her story in another post – it’s pretty much the longest story I can tell – but this is more about the day in the life of a dog owner.

I always envied those happy-go-lucky people who frolicked around the dog park with their puppies on sunny days.  Throwing sticks and bouncing balls and watching their pets respond so ideally to their commands.  They would fetch their plush toys and run back and sit perfectly waiting patiently for the next game.  Sometimes, dogs will leap and paw and roll around with other dogs in a playful fun fashion.  Their people chat and laugh and exchange hilarious stories about their remarkable pets.  It’s like a productive singles gathering or neighborhood block party.  And I would watch from afar as I circled the block on my daily run (read: weekly stroll) around the neighborhood wishing so badly I had a reason to enter this exclusive clique.

When I got Darcy, I couldn’t wait to go to the dog park.  It took us a little while to get there – she was transitioning from a 14 acre farm in Vermont to Old City Philadelphia and leaving her crate was overwhelming for quite some time.  But once we worked up the nerve to give it a try it was VERY exciting.  I think she even enjoyed it too.  Unfortunately, the experience was not at all what I expected.

It is a rare occasion when a whole pack of dogs is at the dog park.  There may be one or two at a time that just swing by to poop, but this group of forever friends that I had always seen is actually non-existent.  When there are dogs there, they drag their owners towards each other, sometimes growl, sometimes bark, every time sniff each other’s butts, over… and over… and over… Darcy tries to get the small ones to play.  The big ones try to eat her.  Some of the small boy ones try to hump her.  All of the leashes get tangled.  It is a blast.

As for the people – I haven’t met anyone I would actually want to talk to.  I’ve seen two cute guys, but they both have well groomed girl dogs, and are clearly just walking Fluffy to check it off of their honey-do lists.  There are girls who are afraid of the other dogs.  There are hispsters.  There are a lot of lesbians.  There are people who are filled with useless information with which they find imperative to enlighten you.  The worst is when you realize you didn’t bring your cell phone and may have to engage in awkward social interaction.

Two days ago was my one year anniversary with Darcy.  To celebrate, both anniversary and first nice day of the year, my girlfriends and I took our dogs for brunch.  Afterwards, we embarked upon a beautiful, mimosa’ed up walk to the dog park.  Upon arrival, we set our psuedo-children free to to play, while we sat on the surrounding benches and watched like some Upper East Side housewives – giggling about our husband’s Cialis prescriptions and newest Louis Vittons.  Granted, said housewives are married and actually drinking champagne while we guzzle buy-one-get-one bottom shelf double bottles of sparkling wine like we’re reentering prohibition, but it was very similar otherwise.

As a quick aside, for Christmas this year, my mother gave me a Long Champ bag, which I just love.  I’ve wanted one for years and it is the most logical bag/purse/whatever you’d like to call it I’ve ever owned.  It’s amazing.  So, on the morning in question, it was filled with dog treats, a water bowl, a $3 bottle of water which was probably filled from the river, a scarf, two layers of cardigans in case I was hot or cold, my wallet, 16 various flavors of chap-stick, my cell phone, two pairs of sunglasses that I can never find, a bottle opener, a can opener, three cell phone chargers, 11 pens- all the standard brunch necessities.

The over-priced bottle of Schuylkill water was a hit with the kids, err dogs, at the park.  I was like the soccer mom who brought Sunny-Delight instead of orange juice.  Dogs came from near and far across the sod for water.  Did any of them belong to attractive, single, age appropriate, successful men?  Of course not.  But maybe they’ll tell stories about me.

As I relished in my ‘cool mom’ glory, the screams began.  It started with “BUSTER NO!”  Then “OH my gosh WHAT is he doing?!”  and finally “STOP HIM!”  I thought this was all an overreaction to the Yorkie emptying his bowels in the middle of a game of fetch, but then turned to see the real travesty…

Buster was peeing on my Long Champ.

At first I didn’t react.  It looked like he had just spilled the miracle Schuylkill water on the bag, which is fine, since it is so durable yet lightweight and easy to carry.  But no – it was urine.  Nasty, dog that isn’t my dog, urine.  I stood in shock.  Did I run to it?  Did I pee on Buster’s favorite accessory and see how he liked it?  Did I slap his owner and yell “CONTROL YOUR ANIMAL”??

One of my girlfriends had to take her mimosa to another bench because she was so furious.  When Buster’s owner did approach me her exact words were “Oh I am so sorry – I am so embarrassed.”  Then she picked him up and muttered something to him in an Asian tongue that I did not understand, and moved to the other side of the park.  They didn’t leave.  He wasn’t punished.  No one peed on him.  They literally just acted like it never happened.

Listen, whether they’re weird or not – dog people get other dog people. We all have some code – it probably comes along with the ESP through which we think we know what our dogs are saying when they stare at us.  But as a part of that code, you do something when your dog vandalizes someone’s belongings.  I would have yelled at my dog, given the girl my number, offered to dry clean her bag, and taken Darcy home.  But Buster didn’t learn any lessons and I’m home now with a pee-stained bag putting off the cost of dry cleaning.

Take this as a warning – if you go to the Schuylkill dog park, and cross paths with a little black dog named Buster – run.  He will strike again. And I guess don’t put your belongings on the ground surrounded by an over hyped group of wild animals.

The moral of the story is – the dog park is much more glorified than I had realized.  I actually hate it.  It makes Darcy happy, so we deal with it, because when she’s happy I feel happy.  I just continue to keep my eyes peeled for my sexy, successful, volunteer firefighter, dog rescuer man who moves to the neighborhood.  And just maybe, with some patience and effort, after I find him, Darcy won’t be the only one of us getting so lucky at the dog park!

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