This is an observation post. No life lesson here.
First of all- I love the dog park. It may be the happiest place on earth. If you are wondering why I feel this way I suggest you stop reading and do some serious soul searching about your dislike of dogs, and ultimately, yourself.
However, there is a dog park phenomenon that happens once every 6 or 7 trips: two or more dogs bark loudly at each other and growl. You may be correctly thinking to yourself- yea, of course, they’re dogs. But this phenomenon is not about the dogs at all. It’s about people’s ABSURD reactions. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, the aftermath of a “dog altercation” looks like this:
Immediately, people from all corners of the park sprint to the scene. Several will be screaming “no. stop.” and “JACKSON… you come HERE NOW” as if their dogs’ animal instincts will suddenly cease to exist. If you are really lucky, you may see a man fall over himself, small children, and several other dogs while attempting to pull his dog out of the mix. A woman is observed to be clutching her chest in horror, unable to mentally process the situation.
As quickly as this war breaks out, the dogs involved decide to call it a draw and go sniff separate parts of the ground. This can only be viewed as an escape from the shrill over-reactions of their owners. Because, after all, they are dogs.
Then the processing begins. People start petting their dogs saying out loud “I know that must have been sooo scary…” and “you got startled by that other big dog, didn’t you…” This is a passive aggressive way of saying to other dog owners “your dog did it. 100 percent. no question.”
A man gathering himself begins a more direct dialogue with the guy next to him “Did anyone even see what happened here?” Please, I think. You don’t have to do this. It’s over, man. Unfortunately, several women take the bait and chime in. There begins to be a small debate about which dog started all the racket. We are now 15-20 minutes beyond the incident in question. The dogs involved are sniffing each other and prancing around their concerned owners who remain huddled and defensive.
At this point I try to remain far enough away from the conversation that I can block out the debate about “what went down” however it doesn’t always work. Sound travels. Two women appear convinced it was actually “the smaller dog over there” that was feeling “too cornered” and began to want space but the larger brown dog “didn’t really read the warning signs and kept trying to play too aggressively.” The hand gestures really reinforce how emphatically people believe it couldn’t have been THEIR dog that started it all. I mean, “Wishbone doesn’t communicate like that. He’s just so passive…”
We are now approaching the 40 minute mark post dog fight. A woman is STILL clutching her chest and explaining to her friend how hard her heart is pounding. I begin to worry from afar that she will need medical attention. Several other people have attempted to be nonchalant about leaving the park with their dogs while also reporting loudly “I think that’s enough excitement for today…” The magical, carefree aura of the park dissipates with the heavy cloud of panic, blame, and horror that dogs are in fact, dogs.