Yesterday, after supper, I went for a walk around Playfair Park. It’s a nice little park. Great gardens, although at this time of year, they are a bid bedraggled. The showy blooms of summer have disappeared.
I often make this half hour, forty-five minute walk. Sometimes, I go around the park one time, sometimes two, sometimes three. Threes my limit. It’s off the main road, cars seldom rush by and I can admire the yards of the houses along both sides.
However, yesterday, when I entered the park, there were, at the entrance, a group of women getting dogs out of cars. Dogs of all sizes and breeds.
I like dogs. My last dog was a Chihuahua named Chico. Incredible smart. Lots of personality. Smarter than Lassie except if I’d fallen into an abandoned well, no, that’s not likely, I don’t think there are any abandoned wells in the area, if I’d fallen into a declivity, hmmm, no, no declivities, if I’d sprained my ankle say, and was lying on the ground moaning and groaning and making the awful faces associated with excruciating pain, and I’d have said, Chico, home, go home, bring someone to help me, Chico would have run home, no question about it, he knew about home and how to find it, but when he got into the house and barked a couple of times, someone would have given him a couple of cookies, maybe a bone from the fridge, and he’d have taken them into his little cloth house that sat at the end of the cupboard, chewed on them, then fallen asleep. He would have done exactly as asked. Go home. Ask for help. He’d done his bit. The rest was up to the people who weren’t smart enough to understand his barking. Or, he might not have understood the “help” bit. Go home and ask for help. He wasn’t good with compound sentences.
Anyway, just so you know, I like dogs. Dogs often like me.
However, as I walked further into the park, I saw more women with dogs. They were everywhere. Among the trees, sitting on benches, standing in groups, throwing balls, conversing in clusters. I’ve never seen this many women with dogs in one place before. I thought it might be a dog owner’s convention. Some of the dogs were very big. Big, big, big. One looked like a black wolf. His mistress had to hold his leash with both hands when he saw me. I could see her heels digging in. I wondered if I could leap the nearest fence into a neighbour’s yard or if falling down and playing dead would work. “Don’t let go of that leash, lady,” I thought.
There wasn’t a single man in the park. I don’t mean single as in matrimonial. There weren’t any married men either. What I’m trying to say is that I was the only man in the park. There were rottweilers, German shepherds, corkies, veinerschintzls, you know the kind that are so long in the body, their front legs and back legs don’t always know what the other is doing, bull dogs, huskies, at least one wolfhound. By the time I got to the palm tree, I started to get really nervous. I started looking for a tree I might be able to climb. There are lots of trees but none of them have low branches and I can’t jump as high as I used to.
I circled the bottom of the park. A lot of dogs stopped running around and stood there watching me. I had, for a fleeting moment, a memory of an article I’d read about how in Europe instead of the hounds chasing a fox, if there was no fox, the nobility sent out a peasant and after he’d got a head start, set the dogs loose and followed on their horses.
I didn’t want to get into an argument with the wolfhound or even the terrier about who was more alpha, him or me. I didn’t have bear spray for battle or a pocket full of cookies for bribes. If necessary, I could lie on my back with my arms and legs in the air.
I’ve lived in this area for nearly three years now. Now and again, once in a while, I see a woman walking a dog but never vast numbers of them all at once. I would have liked to have stopped and asked if this was some sort of weekly or monthly get together. Instead, I scuttled along the rhodo hedge and out the driveway.
Tonight, I went back to Playfair Park to take pictures of the fall colors. There were two men there. One was having a picnic with his wife and infant daughter. She had blonde curly hair and waved at me. The other fellow was sitting on the grass by himself with a basset. There was a woman nearby with another basset. The bassets were playing together. I thought they were a couple but the female owner left and took her basset with her. The other basset sat down in the grass and watched them leave.
No wonder there are so many pet stores. No wonder there are so many shelves of dog food, dog toys, dog grooming items. Tonight, at the exit to the park, there was a group of women standing, talking. They were all holding poop bags. As I went by, they started dropping the bags into the barrel the park provides.
Something I noticed about those dogs. They were incredibly well taken care of. Their coats shone. Their diets are obviously good, they get bathed and brushed regularly. They all had balls to chase or toys for tug of war. I’m sure they get regular checkups at the vets. In winter they’ll have jackets to protect them from the rain and cold. The smaller breeds might have boots.
Like I said, I like dogs but, I think I’ll take my walk earlier in the afternoon, before the work day is over and, just in case, keep some biscuits in my pocket.