Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Warning! - This post involves a soap box

I am interrupting work on my soon-to-be-published (I hope) post on this year's fabulous start to summer for this public service announcement - from atop my soap box.

Yesterday, the Beast, my husband, my sister-in-law and I took a short 1.5k bike ride out to a local dog park along the river so that the Beast could cool off with a few laps. (And if I ever finish the other post that I have been working on for a ridiculous amount of hours now, you will see that he spent a whole lot of time there this week).

This particular dog park is actually an island. A water processing plant occupies the north half of the island. The rest belongs to the dogs. And on this particularly hot, sunny and humid day, there were a tonne of dogs. Like, easily 30 of them. Which always makes me a little nervous because the Beast is easily over-stimulated and in such cases, entirely unpredictable when he is faced with soooooooo maaaaannnnnnnyyyyyyyy playmates. Indeed, there was more than one dog fight yesterday as unevenly-matched-energy-wise dogs got on each other's nerves. But miraculously, the Beast was very well behaved. All he wanted to do was jump in the river and retrieve his tennis ball.

And he had help in doing so from a good-natured American bull dog (ABD). Despite said dog's very stout and stocky appearance, he was a pretty good swimmer. Since his owners were sun-bathing on a blanket up above the shoreline, he wiggled his way into my little game of fetch with the Beast. Which was fine with both of us. The Beast certainly seemed to enjoy letting someone else retrieve his ball when he thought that the current had taken it just a little bit too far.

And so ABD, the Beast and I played fetch for about 10 minutes together. Eventually, ABD got tired and ran off to play with another dog on land, while the Beast and I resumed our twosome of fetch.

And then, about 20 minutes later, I heard a man walking up and down the shore calling out for ABD. But ABD wasn't coming. And although the guy looked pretty calm, his girlfriend was not as she frantically approached me to ask if I had seen the American bull dog that my dog had been playing with earlier.

I got a huge knot in the bottom of my stomach.

Because not even one day earlier, someone had said to me that every single year, a dog drowns in this dog park, swept away by the Ottawa River current because it just isn't strong enough to swim. Which is of course the very first thought that entered my head when ABD went missing.

"Honey," I said to my husband. "There's a dog missing. You stay here and watch the Beast. I am going to go and help them look for him."

There are only two ways off the island: you either walk across the bridge that joins it to the mainland, or you swim across. I agreed to walk up and down the shoreline, while the couple headed off toward the bridge.

And so off I went, yelling out "ABD!" up and down the shoreline, hoping that I would find him cooling off under the shade of a tree. But he was nowhere to be found. And the knot in my tummy just got bigger and bigger and bigger.

I walked back toward the main area to check up on the Beast and hubby. By now, people were starting to realize that there was a dog missing, and there was a lot of whispering going on.  Just as I was about to set out again, I saw ABD's owner walking toward me. Without ABD. I thought I was going to cry.

But when she got to me, she had good news. They had found him. He was wedged under the back tire of a car in the parking lot, spooked by something that drove him to hide. In fact, the car he was wedged under was about to leave, and could have run over the poor guy. But they found him before that happened, coaxed him out, and were bringing him home.

"Thank you so much for your help," she said, as she began walking away. Then she added, "My god! They're just like kids! You can't turn your back for one second!!!"

Well ain't that the truth....

Seriously though, it's entirely commendable to want to include your dog in your plans for enjoying a beautiful summer day by choosing to hang out at a dog park for an afternoon. I mean really, there are a million more enjoyable places for a human to be, I am sure. But to sit on a blanket and sun-bathe while your dog plays in a fast-flowing river, among 30 or so other dogs, and to not really pay attention to him? Well, that doesn't rank up there as the best life decision.

Which gets me to one of my fastest-developing pet peeves - dog owners who bring their dogs to a dog park and then decide to ignore them completely. Because it's enough just to bring them, isn't it? Surely they'll get all the exercise they need running around with other dogs? Why pay attention to them when there are other important things to do, like check Facebook, chat with other humans, or suck back a Starbucks latté? Besides, nothing bad could ever happen in a dog park. Especially not in a dog park with a fast flowing river and 30+ dogs running around....

Grrrrrrr....

To ABD, I'm glad that you did not drown, and I'm glad that you were found. To your owners, I'm so, so, so relieved that you found him, and I'm glad to have been able to help you look. But most of all, I really, really, really hope this teaches you to smarten the f&#k up the next time you bring him out to the island. Cause a really great tan is not going to replace Man's Best Friend.