My Great Dane, Ellen, and I spend many hours in the local dog park. The parks are for the dogs to run and have fun with each other, but the true entertainment is provided by the people. Just as the dogs run the gamut from danes to chihuahuas and everything in between, the owners are from every background imaginable. Like most dog parks, my neighborhood one has a core group of regulars who come often. The dogs recognize one another immediately, playing with their friends and checking out any newcomers. The owners are the same way, sitting and talking with people they’ve come to know only in this one special setting. One peculiarity is that since the dogs are the purpose of the park, we all learn the dog’s names weeks before we remember their owner’s. More than once I’ve been called “Ellen’s mom”, but that’s okay since I only remember the dog’s names too!
Last time I was at the park, about six of us spent over an hour talking about everything from movies to politics and everything in between. Our backgrounds and life experiences were different, we ranged in age from 20’s to 60’s, our opinions were on all sides of the issues, yet we were able to avoid confrontation. We all keep our cool and stay respectful, because we want to come back with our dogs. We all understand that if we get into arguments or treat someone badly, it would be difficult to come back. Somehow, now matter how much we might disagree, we are able to simply stop arguing and agree to disagree on that particular subject. I can’t help thinking that if only we behaved that way with others all the time, our society would be a lot different. And if good, respectful behavior is possible at a dog park, we should be able to carry that type of behavior over to other public venues. Can you imagine what might happen if our governmental representatives actually behaved like people in the dog park? They might even find compromises that everybody could live with instead of being so confrontational!