We’ve recently become impressively hip people; we started bringing our dogs to the dog park. For the longest time we never went--even though we had a dog--as our beloved collie, Shadow, was more of a “people’s dog.” But since his passing, we adopted two more collies and decided it was high time to set foot into the land of pit bulls, poodles, and piles of poop.
Actually, the dog park we go to in Waterford is quite lovely, with a beautiful expanse of land for the dogs to freely run and romp in with wild abandon. One of our dogs can’t get enough of it, while I’m fairly certain the other one would prefer to be infested with fleas, rather than mingle and make doggy small talk amongst her peers.
Shiloh, the older of our two collies, arrives on the scene and is instantly “Captain Dog Park.” He festively frolics and struts his stuff, becoming instant BFF’s with every dog there. He even does this completely ridiculous thing where he stands in the middle of it all and barks happily into the air. He’s the most convivial canine you’ll ever come across, and is truly a “dog’s dog.”
On the other hand, Zoey, our younger, female collie, is, in fact, “The Dog Park Nerd.” It’s the weirdest thing because at home, or on walks, she’s as friendly and outgoing as can be. Once she steps paw inside of those gates, however, she scuttles around like an antisocial skunk, avoiding the other dogs’ curious gazes. She can’t wait to get out of there. Shiloh, on the other hand, doesn’t want to leave.
Even though we may now be cool because we go to the dog park, we are not yet dog park cool. You see, there is a distinct hierarchy, not only among the dogs themselves, but also amongst the dog owners. Don’t get me wrong—everyone there is quite friendly, but there are two different benches about 30 yards away from each other, with one is the “Cool Bench” and the other bench is reserved for “The Rest of Us.” We congregate at the latter.
I think all the newbie humans have to somehow prove themselves to the other humans—and canines—who are conducting business there, before we have the right to sit on the “Cool Bench.” Of course, Shiloh not only fits right in with all the other doggies, but he also hangs out with the “Cool Bench” people far more than he does with us. In the meantime, we perch upon the bench designated for “The Rest of Us,” with Zoey not wandering far from our sides.
The very worst part is that Shiloh, who’s inseparable from Zoey anywhere else, completely disses her at the dog park, preferring the company of all of his new, cool friends. He and all his other canine companions party down, while she wanders around near us like a lost, little wallflower. Once, Zoey actually did try to introduce herself to another dog—I was so pleased I could’ve cried. Then Shiloh came by and gathered up the other dog for a game of “King of the Dog Park,” while my poor little girl was left standing there, dejected, next to the bench designated for “The Rest of Us.”
I have high hopes for Zoey—and for us—that someday we’ll all join Shiloh over by the “Cool Bench.” That is, if “Captain Dog Park” finds us worthy…