Hello. What am I doing, of all people, sitting on a park bench while two young pit bulls play nicely right under my seat? I feel the hair on my neck as I lift up my feet and smile at the owner. "I've been bitten by a bull mix. Didn't break the skin but it was a weird feeling to look up and see the dog salivating, but your dogs sure are cute." Bless his heart. Playing nicely.
I'm the five year old jumping up and down in the back seat of the yellow Ford Galaxy, screaming. My first puppy has crawled out of the cardboard box and onto the floorboard. We are both rather excited. So is my mother who careens the car to the shoulder, stops the car and opens the door, flipping back the front seat, proceeding to corral the little puppy. I don't think we had seat belts. Otherwise, I'm sure I would have been strapped in for life. I was petrified of any dog. While the little Pekingese beagle mix was the pride, joy and love of our lives, the relationship didn't endear me to other dogs.
Cate picked out her first puppy. Penny for a girl. Pepper for a boy. She always named any object with two eyes - from stuffed animals, dolls to hand puppets and Goldfish. Very clever. We picked the second smallest puppy at the Humane Society and ended up with seventy-two pounds of love and muscle. And my first experience with a big dog. He was a fine dog.
Because of Pepper, I became more comfortable with other dogs, even stranger dogs. But I'm still not a person to instantly gush over any dog. I'm discerning.
As discerning as I am, here I sit in the middle of Washington D.C. on a beautiful morning as the noon bells ring from the nearby National Cathedral, which is a beautiful place to worship when one is in this part of town but obviously not today. The well-fenced dog park is on the edge of a larger park which is circled by blocks and blocks of pink, red, and buff colored apartment buildings of varied ages and heights - very different than the world I know. Truly a big city.
I imagine all these dogs being cooped up in tiny apartments finally being set free into this gravel covered expanse after passing through a sallyport to ensure no free range dogs. The smallest is a Chihuahua wearing a turquoise designer hoodie. He is standing to the side, not wanting to smudge his stylin' self. But he is the only one not in movement.
At the pinnacle of my experience, thirteen to fifteen dogs are engaged in various pursuits. At the second gate, new dogs are greeted with friendly noses. The dogs run back and forth and around the park. Old dogs just lay down and watch. Every owner has a little plastic bag in their hand just in case. There are a lot of cases. Watson, Sherman and Boston roll over and over each other. Maddie doesn't participate because she has had knee surgery. Lili and Beignet are young dogs not yet experienced in knowing where their feet should be. Their ears are as immature as their frames. Every loud growl is meant to be in play or should be. One owner throws the ball and five dogs fight for possession.
Collie. Corgi. Mutts. Golden Doodle. Beagle. Chocolate Lab. Hound Dog. Bird Dog. Three pit bulls, two of which are still under my bench. And then the reason I am here, Zeke, a mini Aussie.
Now I am saying it again for the record. He is not my grand-dog. But if I were so inclined to have a grand-dog he would be a fine one. He is zippy and smart as a whip. Curling up in my lap also gives him credit. It is not polite to discuss Zeke in front of my house dog, Oreo, who is older and wiser. The elder statesman might discern a pitch in my voice revealing my true feelings about this soon- to-be interloper. In a few weeks. we will all be one happy family. The two gents will assume their accustomed positions with very few comments. Life is better when played nicely.