Conversations at the Dog Park

Ever practical, the Clown has a dog, just to insure that he and the current wife don’t travel too much, seeing as how pet sitters are pricey.

Her name is Ellen Barkin (the dog, not the pet sitter). She is a 3+ year-old Australian Cattle Dog, a cousin to the Border Collie. As such, she comes with a bred-in case of ADD (Attention Demanding Disorder) for which Xanax could be a solution, but I ain’t giving her any of my meds.

Because I refuse to buy a herd of Australian cattle for her to manage, she is left with only two primary obsessions, treats and her Frisbee. Treats are things to be swallowed whole with no apparent attempt to savor the artificial chicken bone flavor. The Frisbee is something to be pursued at high speed and plucked from the air in acrobatic leaps and twists that will, no doubt, come back to haunt her in old age. Until then, do not, I repeat, do not, get in her path of Frisbee pursuit; she is laser focused.

Ellen B. and I often visit the dog park where recreational and identifying peeing and pooping are enjoyed by all, even the dogs. The Clown knows many of the other dog’s names and habits but hasn’t a clue about any of the owners’ names. Each owner is simply known as “Spud’s dad”, or “Muffy’s mom”, etc. While the dogs go about their business of sniffing butts, rolling in the remains of dead rodents, play fighting, actual fighting and enthusiastically eliminating solid and liquid waste, the owners have a chance at small talk. These conversations are interrupted from time to time for the purpose of cleaning up the dog’s giant mound of poo. Dog ownership is a class act.

The Clown has observed that dog owners, at least in the confines of the dog park, have a very limited range of conversational patter.

Clown to Sparky’s mom: “Great weather. I guess the global warming problem has its upside, heh, heh, heh.”

Sparky’s mom: “Sparky just got her Parvo booster, she probably shouldn’t play too hard. Ellen, play nice!”

Clown: “This latest worldwide ban on fluorocarbons is great news. Nice to see real international cooperation.”

Sparky’s mom: “We just started Sparky on a new food and it’s given her diarrhea. Ellen, play nice! I guess we’ll have to change back to the old food but they don’t sell it at Costco and their dog food is so much cheaper. I hate to spend the extra, but the poor baby’s tummy is so sensitive. What does Ellen eat?”

Clown: “Baby chicks.”

Sparky’s mom and Sparky hustle away with a fretful, over-the-shoulder glance.

Clown to Brutus’s dad: “That’s a great looking sweatshirt. Love the University of Georgia logo. I hear that your coach is already under fire from fans.”

Brutus’s dad: “I’m getting Brutus a UGA collar. It’s red with white Bulldogs, just like him. His choke-chain collar seems to choke him a lot.”

Brutus tries to mount Ellen but his stumpy little legs just don’t have the reach. One-sided tussle ensues.

Brutus’s dad: “Brutus, play nice! He’s a bit randy. I could have him neutered but he’d never forgive me. I mean, look at the size of his package. He’s my fourth bulldog. They don’t live very long. The vet says it’s because we’ve bred their noses so short that they can’t breath properly. What crap.”

Clown: “And the coach?”

Brutus’s dad: “I mean, if God wanted bulldogs to have longer noses, they would have longer noses, right? I think the vet is one of those Darwin groupies.”

Clown: “Excuse me, I have to go check on some reported crop circles in the meadow.”

Clown to Molly’s mom: “I guess you’ve heard that the Russians have invaded Oregon and are rapidly moving south on California. Obama has fled to Uruguay and nuclear war is imminent.”

Molly’s mom: “I have a sister in Portland. She has two weenie dogs. They’re nasty little nuisances, nothing like our sweet Molly. You are so sweet, aren’t you, Molly? Good girl. Isn’t she sweet?”

Clown: “Before the end of the day, Molly will be a small cinder of carbon as will you and everyone you love and our world, as we know it, will be over.”

Molly’s mom to Molly: “You won’t be a little carbon speck will you sweetie? No you won’t. You’ll be a sweet girl. You’ll be a sweet Molly. Don’t you listen to Mr. Gloomy Gus. Look at her waggily tail. Isn’t she sweet?”

Clown: “Pardon me, but I have to go ‘Duck and Cover’.”

Suffice to say that illuminating conversations at the dog park are elusive, unless, of course, you consider it illuminating to discuss canine bowel habits, expensive mange treatments, daily dog-walking routines, dog food, sleeping arrangements involving the dog, dog toys, dog-wear, local dog ordinances, cute dog behaviors, bad-dog behavior, rescue dog brags, pure-bred dog brags, etc.

This single-focus phenomenon wouldn’t be true in cat parks, if there were such things, which there won’t be. First, cat owners would read books and discourage being approached by strangers for chit chat and second, cats don’t do parks. In fact, cats don’t do much of anything unless they are being filmed for You-Tube videos.


Observoid of the Day: A college degree is no guarantee that you aren’t still dumb as a sack of hammers.


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