Infiltrating The Dog Park [Single White Nerd]
My apartment overlooks Silver Lake dog park. Every day, I sip coffee and look out the window into a secret world where pups run amuck and people mill around talking, making friends, and doing God knows what else. I’ve always wondered about this secret world–who are these people? What do they talk about? Is the air sweeter in their land of canine companionship? Until two weeks ago, I thought I might never be able to answer these questions. That all changed with Callie.
Callie belongs to two friends of mine. She’s ridiculously adorable. For some reason, my friends decided to entrust me with Callie’s well being for an entire weekend. I, a person who has never had a dog, found myself living in a real-adult-person-house taking care of a real-dog for two whole days. It was like trying on someone else’s life for a couple of days to see how it fits.
Here’s what I learned:
1. Those people at the dog park? The ones I watch every day? Yeah, they don’t really talk about much. The weather, their dogs, the best stretches to do before jogging. All this time, I’d been sure that there was more to it. That people were trading secrets, hitting on each other, or making big-time Hollywood deals. Not-so-much. They’re pretty much there to tire their dogs out so they’ll be exhausted. Hmmph.
2. People are friendlier when you have a dog. I walk around Silver Lake Reservoir a few times a week. Never have I had so many people smile at me, nod, and say ‘hello’ as when I walked around with Callie trotting amiably by my side. Granted, this may be because I have an annoying habit of muttering to myself while walking and, with dog at side, this muttering looks a lot less threatening, but still.
3. Much as I pride myself on totally not needing anyone and being, like, an island or whatever because all real men are islands … it was nice to walk through the front door and have a large slobbery beast come running up, tail a’wagging, to say ‘hi.’ It’s more than nice. It’s addictive. At one point, I walked in and Callie was asleep. She didn’t come running up to me. It made me sad.
4. I can run further and faster when being dragged by a large, fast dog. Without a dog, I may jog/trot along for a quarter mile or so before stopping because, really, why run. With the dog, I flew. My legs grew at least four inches and I bounded at least 30 feet with each stride. Well maybe not, but it felt really fast. It was less that I had found a desire to run and more that if I couldn’t keep up, I’d probably fall and get dragged along through the dust. Which would not be dignified.
5. There’s something kind of magical about waking up to the sound of rustling leaves and feeling a head nudge your leg. Then you open your eyes and a dog is staring back at you. It’s shockingly uncreepy.
I could go on with the list and talk about how scooping up dog shit isn’t nearly as gross as I thought it would be, but that’s not really the point. The point is this: for two days, I was responsible for another living creature. I’d been fairly terrified of this responsibility–what if she ran into the middle of the street? Or ate chocolate? Or hated me? Once I opened the pandora’s box of panic, nothing seemed outside the realm of possibility. But none of those things happened.
Instead, I got through the weekend, infiltrated the mysterious dog park, and learned that, despite a long held belief to the contrary, I might actually be able to inhabit a more responsible life. In the meantime, I’ll just go back to gazing at the dog park and making up stories about the people beyond its fences. Because the stories are more interesting than their conversations about the weather. Jeez.