It’s probably pretty obvious by now that I’m what some may call a “cat person”. I love cats. I love all animals. But I love cats. They hold a special place in my heart, even the troubled ones. And so I am biased. I’ll admit that straight up.
Every day (weather permitting) Emory and I take a walk through Mcgolrick Park. There’s a dog park right by the Driggs street entrance. We usually enter there, loop around, hit the playground for a bit and then loop back around and exit through the Driggs street entrance. We always walk by the dog park and I’ll stop for a couple of minutes to show Em the dogs. He’s so used to being around cats, I figured it’s best to introduce him to a couple of the other 5,000 plus species of mammals. I’ve introduced him to Penn State bunnies, Mcgolrick Park squirrels, and several Brooklyn dogs. He’s also met a few birds, which he speaks to by grunting.
Yesterday was not unlike every other day except that the sky threatened us with dark clouds. The ground was wet as were the swings so we were unable to hang out in the playground. I spent a few extra minutes watching the dogs instead.
I don’t know a lot about dogs or dog parks because I haven’t ever owned a dog. I do spectate, however. When I worked in the city and Tobyjoe and I rode our bikes to work, we’d meet every single day at the Union Square dog park where I’d watch the dogs interact with one another. I can’t tell you what breed of dog believes in which law of butt-sniffing, or whom agrees with whom, but I get the feeling that a dog park holds more political heat than all the goings on on Capitol Hill.
There are the big dogs, the little dogs, the older dogs, the dogs that hump, the dogs that run from humping dogs. There are the dogs that avoid all other dogs. There are the dogs that want to hang out with all other dogs. There are friendly dogs, mean-looking dogs, dumb looking dogs and there are smelly dogs. There are dogs that cower, dogs that bark a lot, dogs that do nothing but run. There are dogs that want to just go home already! And there always seems to be one or two dogs that make all other dogs (and me) nervous, like, you just never know what they’ll do if you look at them the wrong way.
And so yesterday whenever the medium-sized white dog attacked the brown dog by going right for its throat, I very nearly threw up from the stomach acid that bubbled up from my belly. And Emory had no idea what was going on. Suddenly, angry barks filled the playground and all hell broke lose. Little dogs ran in the opposite direction from the fight. The owners (two hipster couples) tried desperately to pry their dogs apart with very little luck. It took an uncomfortably long time for the man from one couple to pull his white dog from the brown dog. And all the while the male owner of the brown dog screamed, “NO!!! NOO!!!! NOOO!!!!” at the top of his lungs. And they weren’t commands, he was pleading with whomever would listen. He was begging into thin air, trying to reason with angry dogs.
With humans, unless there’s a weapon involved, a fight doesn’t usually end in death. The way these dogs instantly went for the jugular, meant business and their business was with death.
I was stuck there, in space, watching. I couldn’t close my mouth, look away; I couldn’t move. It was terrifying, a truly horrific experience, one that brought tears to my eyes, one that will continue to haunt me for days.
Does this happen often at dog parks? Do owners constantly have to look out for the potentially troubled animal? Does the owner of the potentially troubled dog know that they’re dog could very well freak out at any given moment? Do owners of small dogs worry whenever a larger dog comes around? Are there people who avoid the dog park altogether because they worry about fighting? Are these things dog owners know instinctively or do they learn over time?
Yesterday’s incident was the second dog park dogfight I have seen in two weeks. The first one was less horrific because the owner of the dog being attacked was able to scoop his pup up before the other dog got a firm hold. That owner then promptly turned to the other couple and said, “Get your dog out of this park right now!”
Three weeks ago, I was out for a jog and I saw a dog suddenly stand up from a blanket and tackle a toddler who was running around with his mother in the park. The toddler was knocked down hard enough to warrant one of those silent screams. And the couple just yelled for the dog to return to their blanket. I would never hurt any animal, but if that had been my son, I am not sure what I would have done to that couple.
Either way, Em and I are going to have to find some other way to learn about dogs. Their unpredictable nature scares me too much.
And I’m reminded of why I don’t think I want one right now.
Edited to add: I am not anti-dog. I don’t have a huge amount of time to reread and edit my thoughts today sadly. I realize that’s irresponsible of me. Sorry, folks! I have tried to clear up any possible miscommunication in the comments section.