Monday, February 20, 2017

Dog Park Drama

One of my duties as animal control officer is to patrol the dog park daily. Ours is a paid membership park and my presence deters non-members from hopping the fence. It makes the paying members feel better. I don't mind, I enjoy watching the dogs play. Sometimes I answer questions. More often than not, I just sit in an inconspicuous corner and observe. I've seen some pretty weird stuff at the dog park. I often want to ask patrons "What the hell are you thinking?" but I can't because it's not PC. Instead, I'm going to share my thoughts with you here -- where I can be as UNpolitically correct as I want.

Our dog park is probably about the size of a football field with a huge pond in the middle. The other day I watched a couple with a West Highland terrier try to leave the park for 45 minutes. Every time they would get near the dog it would run off. They tried coaxing it to the small dog area and then into the smaller, double gated entrance. The dog was too fast (or smart) for them and would escape every time. The only reason they're not still there is because the dog got bored and decided it was time to go home. I saw the whole thing. I didn't laugh (well, not out loud), but I didn't help them either. Nor did I ask them "Why the hell would you bring a dog to an off-leash park if you don't have a good recall?" Seriously people, the dog park is not a substitute for obedience training.

Everyone must sign a copy of the dog park rules when registering. In case people forget (or never read them in the first place) the rules are plainly displayed on a four foot square sign at the entrance. Two of the rules are "no food in the park" and "no children under 10." Last week I saw a preschooler running around the park with a bag of crackers, closely followed by four large, drooling dogs. A parent was nowhere in sight. Surprisingly, I didn't get a bite call -- this time. I wish I had been able to speak to the parent though. I would have asked "With all the kid-centric parks in the City, why the hell would you bring your kid here?" The dog park is not a substitute for spending quality time with your kids.

One of the crazier dog park patrons was the woman who brought both her labs to the park but only took one inside. The other was left in the car. The dog would bark and the owner would yell, but the dog stayed put. 10 minutes went by before the dog finally jumped out the window. This made the owner mad, so she came out of the park, yelled some more, put the dog back in the car and rolled up the windows! I stepped out of the truck when she tried to go back into the park. She said that the dog in the car had been acting up so he "was being punished." He had to sit in the car and watch his brother play. (Seriously! I'm not making this up!) When I tried to tell her "Ma'am you can't leave your dog in a hot car" she reminded me I was "just a stupid dog catcher" and not a dog trainer. (And this is why I can't have a Taser -- I would soooo use it.) I smiled and told her that actually I was an animal control officer and if she didn't remove her from the car immediately I would give her a $505 citation for animal cruelty. She packed up both dogs and drove off. From the stream of obscenities she threw my way, I can tell you that the dog park isn't a substitute for charm school either.

There are so many stories still left to write. I'm hesitant to share some of the weirder ones. I ask myself "Who is going to believe that?!" I promise they're true, I just change some of the identifying details to protect the innocent my ass. Sometimes I complain about my job, but for the most part it's not bad. Where else can you get paid to sit in a dog park and watch drama unfold? -- K