Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sunday in the park with....Annie?

Sorry I’ve been away from the blog for a while…lots of activity and little introspection.

Large Dog, small child, and I have a new hangout these days: the dog park. With big shade trees and lawn chairs for the humans, two fenced acres and three swimming pools of various depths for the dogs, and mountain views and tennis balls for all, it’s well nigh perfect. Peace reigns (mostly) supreme. The venue offers lots of opportunity to try out that old truism about dogs and their owners resembling each other. I won’t bore you with a treatise on this, but I will mention three pairings of note.

On our first visit, only one dog demonstrated anything remotely resembling bad behavior – Angel, a wire haired fox terrier who yipped at everyone, jumped wetly and uninvited into stranger’s laps, and – horror- chased balls thrown for other dogs. Her owner? Loud, coarse schlumpy woman talking LOUDLY on her cell phone.

My favorite? Another woman, a fully robed Buddhist monk, shaved head and all, with an incredibly peaceful female GSP, a dog she’d rescued from a situation of indescribable abuse. Great conversation and connection between very different yet oddly agreeable dogs and girls here.

Most telling? That would be Annie, a mixed breed with more than a tad bit of pit bull, I fear. Annie and an escape artist Pom (word in the park is the dog makes her way to the park and her owners [sometimes] retrieve her after work), joined at the hip, ran amok. In and out of the water, on and off of people, over and under and around dogs of all sizes and shapes. When other dogs would indicate displeasure, the duo would duck under a table – often in between folks’ feet – and spread their mud and mayhem. The lowlight was when they propelled themselves onto the picnic table where small child was drawing…right onto the artwork, tearing paper, spreading muddy paw prints, the whole nine yards. Flexible, small child found this amusing. Large Dog did not, and in a most unusual move barked and defended...no biting or anything, but he let the truth be known. I looked around for the most likely owner and settled on a nearby mid-life woman, unusual for these parts in that she was fully made up and chain smoking, who was holding forth in the unmistakable, strident tones of Someone Who is Not From Here (I know, I don’t have any room to talk, but at least I try to fit in). I said, nicely like the good southern girl I am, “Is one of these yours?” She relied, “Yeah,” blowing out a big cloud of smoke and proceeding to yammer.

After the first visit, Large Dog assumed a role best described as WalMart greeter. If he smelled or heard a new dog coming, he’d trot to the gate, wag a welcome, and start the pee-on-the-tree party. He’d also go to the gate when dogs left and whine a good bye. On Sunday afternoon, we were hanging out under the trees enjoying our lives when Large Dog’s head jerked up; he shot to the fence and gave three strong warning barks. Care to guess who was on approach? Annie and Ms. Annie. We left.

So why is this telling and (I know you’re asking) why am I telling it? It is absolute proof positive that dogs know things we do not. That they notice subtleties, whether those subtleties are danger or – in this case – merely intense annoyance. That, left to themselves, they work out their differences and can exist in large numbers in relative peace. That they can communicate with each other regardless of background or breed. The big strong ones don’t need to use their muscle. They know when to deal with something directly and when to walk away. The small peaceful ones know that trouble may come, but that it will go as well. Some will even stand patiently by while lesser animals retrieve their tennis balls, to a point.

As for the others? Our siblings need some company on the island, after all.

This post definitely ended up somewhere other than the place I'd planned...I'll try again for my destination of choice in a day or so...stay tuned!

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