Despite meeting the prerequisites, I don’t like to call myself a “dog person”. For starters, I have an aversion to any dog that isn’t mine. Strange dogs come up to me and I pull away, all of a sudden deciding I care about my appearance.
I’m slightly less picky with my own furry sidekick.
More important than my lack of unconditional love for all of dog-kind is my refusal to be associated with the kind of people who proclaim themselves “dog people”, usually via an informative coffee mug. This makes going to the dog park more of a chore than it should be. On the one hand, my dog needs a lot of exercise and socialization with his own kind. I don’t want him to get confused and start thinking he’s a human being.
On the other hand, I have to deal with strange people when I’m there. Here is an itemized list of seven of them (admittedly not my best segue).
1) The Carry-On
How to spot them: they’re walking around carrying some sort of toy breed. If they’re carrying some sort of large breed, avoid at all costs.
Far be it from me to judge a person’s taste in dog just because I prefer mine medium-wellWAITDONTCLOSETHETAB!!!
The Big Bear needs a big dog but that doesn’t mean everyone without a self-assigned nickname does as well. No, my issue with this person is the sheer ridiculousness and cruelty of going to a place specifically created to give dogs space to run around, only to not allow your dog’s paws to touch turf once. Would you make a child stand next to the ice cream machine in the cafeteria and not allow them to get the ice cream they already paid for? No, you wouldn’t, because you aren’t my kindergarten teacher, but that’s a story for another day.
The thing is, there is no mandate forcing this person to take their dog to the park. They knowingly made the decision to come here and go in the pen with the big dogs, including that Golden Retriever that kept jumping on them to get at their dog because he thought it was a toy. I’ve never seen that dog before in my life. I know he came when I called his name, but it was just a lucky guess.
2) The Dog Soft-Talkerer
How to spot them: they’re carrying more leashes and whistles than that neighbor you avoid and their dog somehow exhibits contempt when looking at the other dogs. You as well.
Once again, everyone has very personal preferences when it comes to their vision of the ideal dog. I wanted a best friend and companion, and my relationship with my dog reflects that: I talk to him like he understands me, I just sort of shrug it off when he eats my candles, and my policy on table scraps is one of appeasement. I do, however, find it strange that these people claim they feel the same way about their dog while treating it like a POW. Would you make your human best friend sit perfectly still while you balanced food on their nose? Well, yeah, that would be hilarious, but it wouldn’t make you a good friend.
My real issue with these people comes when they try to train my dog, most of the time without even knowing who his owner is before starting their crash-course They start saying all these commands that he’s never heard while making him wait before they throw the ball or give him a treat. Look, I’ve had him five and a half years and if I couldn’t teach him all that stuff in those two weeks I tried before giving up, what makes you think you can do it in an hour? Besides, for all you know he is trained but only responds to commands from me. Like maybe I’m from another country and he only knows commands in Dutch.
3) Thinks The “All Dogs Fixed” Sign Is More Of A Suggestion
How to spot them: you won’t be able to pick them out but you will absolutely know their dog the second it walks away from you.
My dog is male, so I don’t have to worry about any unwanted “contact” with this dog. However, that doesn’t mean I want this dog near mine. These dogs are mean, plain and simple. They are way more aggressive, possibly due to still possessing their hormone factories, and this dog is always a Pit Bull or Rottweiler or some other scary breed. They always seem about three seconds from snapping on my dog who is, of course, launching a full-scale investigation into what they have that he is lacking. Lead detective? His nose.
The owners usually aren’t much better. I have no proof as to whether or not they are fixed, but I do know they are fans of tank-tops and handlebar mustaches. At least I know if it comes to a fight I can throw my copy of The Portrait of a Lady at him. Hopefully the extra weight from all the scholarly essays will knock him out long enough for me to run. Late nineteenth-century Naturalism really packs a wallop.
4) The Couple
How to spot them: can’t stop canoodling long enough to notice that the dog they decided to “share” (which couldn’t possibly backfire) has escaped the pen
Stop throwing your happiness in my face.
5) Woman Whose Dog Is Her Child
How to spot them: calls her dog in a voice so high-pitched it can only be heard by that same dog.
You know this woman. Despite the fact that she had full creative control when it came to naming her dog, she still has about five names for him, as if she couldn’t make up her mind which she liked best. She’ll introduce you to her Terrier named Scout (and I do mean introduce you to him) but when it comes time to call him over she’ll start yelling nonsense like “Here GiGi! GiGiGiGiGiGi!!!” When he finally comes over he’s greeted with “Well thanks for dropping by Mr. Diaper-pants Baby-bottom!” No explanation is given for these second and third string names, but every time her dog gets within twenty feet of where she’s standing she is guaranteed to yell out a new name in that same high pitch voice. Not to call him over, mind you, but more so just to acknowledge that he is her dog and that is his name she’s squealing.
This arbitrary nickname assignment applies to your dog as well. You’ll tell her your dog’s name but she’ll insist on calling him “Sweetie” or “Precious” or “Lovely”. She’ll also ignore you while she talks to him, asking him questions that you think she fully expects a response to, referring to you as “Daddy”. I prefer to think of myself as the Inspector Gadget to his Brain but whatever. She’ll then introduce the two dogs, informing Scout that he has a new friend in a scene that would work just as well if it were two kids on a play-date.
How to spot them: stand in a circle, know the names of each other’s dogs.
Apparently I missed the memos about the people-who-frequent-the-dog-park mixer because I have no idea who anyone is but these people all seem to be best friends. They have inside (dog) jokes, play with each other’s dogs, and circle up, especially on a cold or windy day. I wouldn’t care so much if not for the fact that a) I’m usually the only other person there not part of the group and b) my dog ALWAYS runs into the middle of their powwow. This is usually met with a lot of “Oh whose Golden is this? He’s not one of ours, is he?” No, he isn’t, because I don’t believe in your exclusive and elitist organization. Just keep drinking your thermos of coffee that Vicki brought for everyone and let Chad get back to his story of that funny thing Pippen did this week while I keep it real on the benches reading The Portrait of a Lady.
You’d think I’d be counting down the minutes until they break it up, but that’s actually worse. They must have some sort of prearranged schedule, because they all leave at the same time, sometimes to go on a group walk (gross), meaning I’m left alone in the pen with just my dog. After five and a half years together we’ve just run out of things to talk about.
7) The Guy Whose Dog Is Disobedient, Running All Over The Place Stealing Other Dog’s Toys And Ruining Games Of Fetch By Hiding Tennis Balls
How to spot them: tall, dark, and double handsome, reading instead of watching his dog.
Cut him some slack, OK? He’s raising that Golden as a single parent and doing the best that he can.