Patti Soldavini

Dog Parkology

In Uncategorized on 03/01/2011 at 8:59 pm

Each weekend, I make it a point to take Olive to one of the local dog parks. We have our choice of a few. The smaller park in the wealthier zip code, the larger park in the less desirable zip code or the one so far North in New Jersey, it might as well be at the North Pole. The smaller park is nice because there’s never more than five or six dogs there at a time. The downside is the dirt walkway into the park that sits on a 45-degree incline uphill. Oh, and the turds that line the walkway like bread crumbs in a demented fairy tale. When I see this, I think, “Christ, I wonder what the owner’s homes look like. Maybe they crap in their kitchen.” The larger park sits on top of a mountain and it feels completely wide open like you’re in the wilds of what I imagine Montana or North Dakota might feel like. The disadvantages of this park are 1) it attracts a rough trade, both canine and human, 2) go after 11am and you walk into a mob scene of about 30 dogs and their people, making it feel like a canine version of the old Marlon Brando flick, “On The Waterfont,” and 3) when the snow melts, half the park becomes a frightening petri dish of squirming parasites burrowing through the mud. Olive cares about none of this. She greets all dogs, large, small, attractive, homely, young, old, unemployed, and neurotic with the same gregarious optimism. Tail at full mast, frantically waving back and forth, while she explores the other dog’s biology, physiology, chemistry, psychology, nutritional profile and personal hygiene all with a few tentative sniffs. In dog time, one quick greeting is equivalent to three months of dating. Very efficient. I wonder what goes through Olive’s mind during this ritual and whether dogs are as judgmental of their own species as humans are of theirs. “MY GOD. THE TERRIER SMELLS LIKE A SWEATY JOCKSTRAP. HE ALSO PICKS HIS NOSE WHEN NO ONE IS LOOKING. AND HE IS A SUBMISSIVE URINATOR. WHAT A TURN OFF.” Laugh, but if there’s another weimaraner at the park, Olive picks out her doppleganger immediately as if she were picking a long lost relative out of a police line-up. Clearly, she recognizes her own breed. (Probably from staring at herself in the mirror so much) She is however, without prejudice. She will run at lightning fast speed from any other dog silly enough to chase her. The combination of her speed, grace and stamina never fails to call attention to her. I can actually see Olive’s head ballooning as she hears the “oohs” and “ahs” of the crowd as she races by them once, twice, again and again and again…Finally, she zooms past me like a five year-old pleading “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!” She actually sprayed me with mud around lap #10. As my boots squish in the filthy pudding beneath my feet, sinking deeper and deeper into the earth, I notice one of the other dogs starting to get a bit testy, and I say to Olive, “C’mon, let’s get out of here before you need to be vaccinated for syphilis.”

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