Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Other Side of the Fence

One morning this week I sat alone with George in the shade of the small-dog section of the dog park and was entertained by ten people and dogs on the large-dog side. Often when I go to the park – usually in the morning or daytime – we are the only pair on the small-dog side, while there are always many dogs on the large side of the fence, no matter what the time of day.

Why is this? Are most small-dog owners too lazy to take their dogs to the park? Or too busy? The only time the small-dog side is full is around 7pm, so does this mean small- dog owners work and large-dog owners are unemployed? Do large-dog owners care more for their dogs and devote more time to them? I just don’t understand why I’m usually alone on my side while there’s a party going on just yards away.

In my years at the park, I’ve noticed a few traits of large-dog people versus small-dog owners. I have never seen anyone dressed up on the large-dog side. They’re used to roughhousing with their pooches and come ready to play. In contrast, on the small-dog side I saw a woman in heels and beige slacks who caused a scene when a dog jumped on her. Do small-dog owners tend to be prissy, Paris Hilton-types who buy dogs as accessories?

Large-dog owners are never prissy. They’re ready for possible fights to break out and know to monitor their dogs’ behavior. They bring long ball-throwing devices so they can throw the balls clear across the park for their pooches. They drive SUV’s with huge tires, sit together in the sun, and know each others’ names.

Small-dog owners can be loners and often sit away from the group with a book or cup of coffee. They dress their dogs in clothes (George has a t-shirt that says “Dog Park Security”) and hate it when their dogs smell like dogs.

Large-dog owners are loud. One woman this week was standing at least fifty feet away from me, and I could hear every single word she said. So now I know that the woman in the flannel shirt with the German Shepherd is unemployed, hates illegal immigrants, and prefers Del Taco over Taco Bell.

I have taken George in the large side before, usually when we’re on the way to the groomer, since I know he’ll get slobbered on over there. I’ve always been immediately greeted by the big-dog people and feel we are somehow elevated in their opinions by coming to their side. (Being there means George is butch enough to handle the big dogs!)

But we don’t stay long. I wouldn’t know what to do if a fight broke out, and I don’t want to get slobbered on, myself. I guess I am a prissy small-dog owner after all.

And that’s okay with me. But I have to admit that the large-dog people sure look like they’re having fun! I’ll have to break the boundaries more often – go to the other side of the fence, and get to know the other side.

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