I used to work with a man who said that women and poodles have the same problem—they both think they’re human. He became a lawyer. Poodles resemble dogs, but they’re not. Offer a dog a piece of cheese and he’ll grovel at your feet. Ask my Louie, and he’ll politely decline the Swiss, indicating that he prefers the smoked Gouda you’re eating.
Big guys, like Louie, need physical activity, and that’s how we ended up at the dog park; because I will not spend more on my dog’s entertainment ($40/day at Club Pooch) than my own.
For purposes of this discussion, I’ll refer to owners by the less controversial term, “humans.” Our favorite park is the downtown Concord one—off Bonifacio Street. Its pluses include:
- Plentiful shade which gives residence to many squirrels
- Pretty dependable “open for operation” hours (as compared to Newell Park, which closes in anticipation of rain and stays closed indefinitely)
- Generally laid-back humans and dogs, most of which are not “well-bred”
Its minuses include:
- Smaller play area; your dog cannot escape Louie’s advances
- Bring Your Own Bucket
- How do I say this tactfully: neurotic women who have a phobia about water!
Louie is big and black and overheats quickly. On our second visit to this park, we discovered the water buckets were gone. I brought one next time and was informed that it’s not healthy for dogs to drink out of a communal trough, and “please remove your bucket.” Somebody must not have informed the City of this health hazard, because they put a fountain for dogs just outside the play area. I thought this was an isolated instance of humans behaving badly, so I brought our bucket again next time.
Louie and I filled it up and lugged it over to the “foyer,” where I unleashed him so he could take off in pursuit of his paramour du jour. My radar was up in anticipation of being slammed by a gaggle of dogs, but faster than a whippet, a woman approached me, saying, “You need to remove that bucket.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because that’s how I control my dog!”
“Really?” I replied. (And this is my problem?) “Tell you what—I won’t let your dog have any of our water.” And I breezed past her to the far end of the park, where her dog, crawling on its belly like a parched camel, begged for a drink. I apologized profusely to this poor guy, who was watching with envy as all the other dogs partook of our water. But not for long, because his inhuman retrieved him.
Undaunted, we brought our bucket to the park again the following weekend. This time I was ready. If approached, I had my dialogue prepared. Sure enough, the water police were there.
“Would you please remove your bucket?”
At times like that, I have to step back and remind myself to be the person my dog thinks I am. So I said,
“I bring this bucket to share with all the dogs. They get thirsty.”
“That’s how disease is spread. You need to remove it.”
And then I thought, Louie cares more about a drink than my living up to his expectations, so I smiled and said, “I’m not going to debate this with you,” and marched my bucket into the throng of applauding humans.
Next edition: Newhall Park, Concord.