I took Pelu for an early-morning outing to the dog park before an editing session with my crit partner. For those unfamiliar with dogs, dog parks, and dog park etiquette, it goes something like this. There’s a “any-size/big dog” area for the…(wait for it)…big dogs or any brave little dogs that don’t mind mixed big-dog company. And a separate “little dog” area for…little dogs. Each one is fenced in with three-foot tall fences, intentionally separate, and gated.
Lest there be any confusion, there is a painted sign of a little dog with “<#25"spelled out for the little dog portion. Pelu–all ten pounds of her–was in the little dog park alone when a monster-sized, garantuan, astoundingly huge, mind-blowingly large dog leapt–yes, leapt–over the three-foot-tall fence into the little dog area. This alone was kind of amazing.
What was more amazing, however, was that the owner simply stood there and watched as little dogs began running around in terror and little-dog owners began scooping them protectively. It was practically akin to a post-bomb scene in a movie with people running for cover, screaming.
Meanwhile, the giant dog–let’s call him Brutus–then began relieving himself all around our area. And in case you’re thinking it was only “number one,” well, you’d be wrong. After he left three separate piles around the little dog sanctuary, he then began tearing around in victorious loops. (I imagine this is the doggie equivilent of “Take that, b^tches! Your park is mine now!”)
Still in the general/big dog area, Brutus’s owner, let’s call him Oblivious A-hole Owner (OAHO for short), yelled, “You got the sh^ts or something?” as he continued to simply stand, stare, and do absolutely nothing.
Yeah, he’s got ‘the sh^ts’ from the little dog he ate on his walk here, I thought sarcastically.
Finally, one small-dog owner approached him and asked if he needed an extra bag to pick up after Brutus (aka hint-hint).
OAHO stared angrily, silently before finally pushing off the fence he’d been leaning on and ambling over, snapping “I’ve GOT it.”
Walking past me, he said (as though we were having a conversation), “So, let me get this straight, my dog can’t come in the little dog park but little dogs can come over to general area.”
“Yep–those are the rules alright,” I agreed cheerily. “Because big dogs can really hurt little dogs, so it’s at the little dog owner’s discretion if they want to take that risk.”
“Oh that’s it, is it?” He taunted, his voice a nasty sneer. “Well how am I supposed to know?”
I pointed to the sign.
“Yeah…too bad my dog can’t read,” he sneered derisively.
“Good thing his owner can…and that’s the owner’s responsibility, to control the dog and stick to the rules.” I volleyed back.
Sensing that he wasn’t going to win this one, he decided to make it personal. “Wow. You’re a real happy person, aren’t you? You’re just in a GREAT mood today, huh?” The sarcasm in his voice could’ve peeled paint off walls.
“I was,” I agreed, “until about 5 minutes ago.”
By this point, my tiny Pelu broke free of her frozen state of fear and ran to the gate, pawing frantically to get out.
As we walked home, I remembered again that I have a bit of a crazy-magnet and that next time I need to resist engaging with crazy. Perhaps this sign on the pick-up bag dispenser said it best.
Thoughts? Etiquette violations (dog-park or otherwise)?