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.
Recently at the Starbucks closest to our apartment (I specify since I frequent multiple ‘bucks locations and will most likely mention them later on), I made a horrific and disturbing discovery. Weirdly enough, I make most of my disturbing discoveries while at Starbucks. This one was bad. It was worse than my original discovery of the Starbucks murderer. It came in the form of an oversized stroller.
As I am minding my business waiting in line for my latte with my boyfriend, I notice a couple in front of us. Two young, fit parents mulling over the posted calories and deciding what pastries to order. I look around to see if anyone is seeing what I’m seeing. A member of NASA on a space station would notice this couple. They had a stroller the size of a tractor-trailer. It was one of those strollers with the car tire rubber wheels and multiple sitting areas that can only be described as separate rooms. The thing was comparable to our apartment. Unfortunately, the stroller was the least of my worries. Sitting inside the stroller was an adolescent sized child. The kid was huge. He was easily 13 and fully functioning- I made sure before I poked my boyfriend in the ribs. “Hey, look at this,” I whispered. He rightfully sensed something inappropriate about to come out of my mouth and quickly said “shh.”
“Look at the SIZE of that kid in there. I can’t believe that kid is still in a stroller!”
“Shhh, they are right in front of us, they can hear.”
“There is NO WAY they can hear me I am whispering. Will you just look?”
“Yeah, I saw, the kid is big.”
“Too big,” I emphasized.
I thought about this for hours. Maybe even days. After establishing the large child was fully capable of walking and had reached all developmental milestones required for a 13 year old, I felt fully entitled to continue my inner monologue about the insanity. Why would the parents not encourage the child to walk? The kid was barely able to fit in the apartment sized stroller- isn’t that a sign? Is this why people hate Americans? Are we obese because of prolonged stroller use? It got so complicated in my head I forced myself to abandon the topic entirely.
About a week later I was sitting at the same Starbucks. At this juncture you are perfectly within your rights to question my credibility based on clearly-too-much time spent in an overpriced coffee chain. Anyway, the stroller rolls in.
“Oh God,” I think. I don’t know if I’m strong enough for this again.
This time I get an even better look at this kid. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Frankly I can’t blame him. If my parents were willing to push me around as an adolescent instead of me walking from museum to museum on my own two legs, damn right I’d take the ride. I can almost sense the kid’s smugness about the whole thing. He knows he is making quite the scene. I immediately texted my boyfriend that there was a second sighting. He was unenthused but threw me a courtesy “Really, wow.”
As the man child was rolled out of the coffee shop, I almost saluted him. Well done, sir. Well done.