There's a wonderful facility near our house, part of John Rudy Park, we call the “doggie playground”. It's actually called Canine Meadows, I think, but it consists of 3 huge fenced in areas where dogs can run and play off leash. There's an area for the little, fuzz ball, under 30 pound dogs to play (the kind the late Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko said are for spraying with Endust and chasing under the bed where the mop won't reach) and a separate area for the over 30 pound real dogs. It's a great place to just chill on a bench or a rock while our dog runs, tumbles, chases and wrestles with the other dogs. Usually I have to chuckle at how dogs socialize, and the variety of very different “personalities”. Dogs don't know how silly they are- sniffing each other's butts as a greeting, obsessing over a stick or tennis ball, and pausing to pee or poop whenever the urge arises. They're raw and pure and uninhibited. On more than one occasion, while watching the dogs play, Lori and I have laughed at how funny it would be if people did some of the things dogs do. For example dogs will, whenever they run out of gas, just flop down and lay where ever they feel the need. Imagine people waiting in a long checkout line at Wal Mart laying on the floor until the line moves, or worse, sniffing the butts of the people nearby.
Tuesday evening we took Little Bear to the doggie playground about 7:00, poor guy had been in his pen most of the day and he needed to unload some energy. It was busier than usual-lots of dogs, lots of people. This trip I noticed less the funny things the dogs do, and more noticed how strange a species we humans are. First, the whole concept of one kind of animal owning, training, and nurturing another animal is weird when you stand back and look at it. We project imaginary personalities onto our dogs, and bond with them, often, more readily and deeply than others of our own species. It seems, at least sometimes, people have chosen a dog that reinforces an image they wish to project. The “biker” fellow at the doggie playground, the guy with the Sturgis T-shirt, a bandana, a long braid, and lots of tattoos was playing fetch with his Rottweiler. Would he be seen with, say, a toy poodle? Neither would he drive a pink VW Beetle, or smoke Virginia Slims. I noticed one girl watching her dog whose hair was striped-like a parfait. There was a couple inches of burgundy, a stripe of blonde, a stripe of brown, and so on. Now, far be it from me to decide if an approach to hair is good or bad, but if there were 25 people there, there were 25 different ways to arrange, color, and display hair-hers being the most original of the 25. But I'm fairly sure not a single dog there had hair color other than the ones they were genetically intended to have. Many of the dogs, ours included, had been trimmed or styled, but I doubt one single dog gave even a second's worth of thought to whether their hair looked nice, or their nails could use clipped, or whether their collar was the right color. It's, at least partly, so the other “Moms” will say, “Ahh, doesn't Fifi look nice today...so pretty! Who does Fifi's hair?” Some of the dogs dive right in to the mix of other dogs, and run and play in groups. Others sort of watch the whirlwind of dogs from a slightly removed, safer perimeter and follow the pack just outside of the action. Others hang close to their people, watching but too shy to join in. Similarly, when people arrive some walk straight to the core cluster of people and engage them in dog-talk. “Say, is that a Blue Tipped Weimerheimer? I've always liked them. Mine's a Mongolian Boar Hound.” Others, me, smile but avoid real engagement, and quickly find a bench or rock slightly removed, at a safe perimeter from the mingling. Rarely, but once in a while, a dog is too aggressive and the snarls and teeth baring go beyond the pseudo violence of playing, and is “encouraged” to leave, at least temporarily banished from the park. And there's usually 1 or 2 dogs who aren't interested in getting the stick or ball, as is the object of the game, but are actually interested in humping every dog who inadvertently stops in front of them. Other owners are generally less than subtle with their displeasure, so the predators are reprimanded, but usually are repeat offenders. Now, I did not witness any parallel human behaviors to violent or sexual aggression while at the doggie playground, but a few minutes with the evening paper afterward certainly reveals that such behaviors are too common in the human playground, where we run off-leash. And the news is full of somebody taking the stick that belongs to some one else, and running off with it. So, we humans have learned to style our hair, resist sniffing butts, poop privately, and maybe slobber a little less, but we're more like our dogs than we may care to admit.
The Future of Infused Arts
1 year ago