Walking into the dog park is like trying to maneuver high school all over again. If you interact with the wrong owner or dog, you are cut from the group. If you watch a dog too closely, you are at risk of being banished from the popular crowd. It truly is “you can’t sit with us” of Mean Girls. The dog park is divided into sub divisions that are constantly competing to achieve the ranks of “top dog”.
The first group consists of the DPTA (dog parent teacher association.) These are the owners and dogs who believe they run the park. This group believes that the park is theirs because they provide the largest donations to making the park better. For example, our park has agility training tools such as jumps, ramps, and tunnels that were provided by the means of generous donations. The DPTA owners tend to have the senior dogs and if you go against them, you can expect to be chewed up and spit back out. These owners often don’t want the newbies coming in because it disrupts their precious circle of well trained two legged and four legged friends. The dogs are the cats meow because the park belongs to them and they are sure to let you know.
Next, there are the owners who believe they are the hall monitors. If your dog sniffs in the wrong part of the park, you can expect a pass to detention. Best part of all, you’ll never have to wait to catch your dog in a naughty act because the owners watchful eyes are always watching. I swear they often see things faster than humanly possible. If the dog park is locked and you choose to run your dog on the field next door, you can expect them to take a photo and show the security guard. Just because “duty” calls.
After, you come across the freshman of the group. These owners and dogs are the newbies, who hide underneath the table or in the corner of the park with tails between their legs. The juniors and seniors of the dog park say jump, and we respond with how high. The newbies cower together in the corners to afraid to venture out to the middle. As freshies, our dog must show a certain talent to be accepted into the group. The freshman tend to crowd together with the puppies and younger dogs watching with hopeful eyes that maybe, just maybe their dog will make varsity at a young age and blend in seamlessly with the masses.
As I bring our dog to the park, my eyes open wider. There is more drama between the owners about their dogs than the show Real Housewives. Maple and I will continue to grow on the social ladder and hopefully show the park that exclusivity is not the best. Its all about getting along and learning to play together by some structured socialization!