Sunday, April 27, 2008

Two trips to the park

Bailey and I decided to venture into San Francisco on Saturday. It was a beautiful day - about 70 degrees and sunny, no wind, that kind of rare spring day that makes everyone dig on their summeriest duds and lie in the sun for a while.

The city was buzzing, especially for someone with an adorable, love-happy puppy in tow. We meandered through street fairs, where Bailey gladly let kids grope her; past drum circles, where her ears perked up, shocked at either the vibrations or the hippies; and past dozens and dozens of every make and model of dog there is, all frolicking with their owners in the lazy Saturday sun.

Bailey was so happily overcome by all this that she could hardly stand herself. She zigzagged down the beach, manically licking the face of every dog she saw. She yanked incessantly at her leash, begging to go faster. I let her run free once, and she bolted - straight off a sand dune and down to the beach, coming to a tail-wagging halt at the heels of the first person she saw.

Even in her craziest of frenzies, everyone - with the exception of a prettier-than-thou surfer dude and a bulldog that was probably nowhere near as grumpy as he looked - was happy to stop and make friends. It was social hour. It was a party. And we were working the crowd.

The next day, Sunday, we were back in Manteca. Again, a gorgeous day. It was about noon, and because Bailey doesn't let me sleep past 7 anymore, I had already crossed every errand off my list and we were up for an adventure. Of course, I thought - the park! It'll be jammin' on a day like this! Social hour, take two, I thought, let's go get us some more Bailey love!

Nope. The swings weren't swinging. The picnic tables were clean. The entire, lovely, 5-acre park was still. There was not a single freakin' person there.

"What the shit?" Bailey asked, incredulously.

As we walked home, dejected, I started to notice the constant racket of barking coming from behind the homes on our street. There were dogs behind those houses, banished
from one another's view by tall property line fences, pacing back and forth like wild animals at the zoo.

Bailey, still high off her Bay Area love-fest, wanted to say hello. It didn't go over well; the dog went ballistic, and Bailey got her feelings hurt. And if it hadn't already, that froofy feeling of community, so tangible in the city, piddled away.

We got home and settled down into our own fenced-in backyard. And I started to wonder - what does it say about a place when its slivers of communal land sit empty on a beautiful Sunday afternoon while its dogs pace like maniacs in these fenced-in, family-sized cages?

I decided it's because in Manteca, as in most places, we've got capitalist dogs. That quarter acre is their kingdom, dammit, and it's their sole purpose to protect it with all their might. It's all they've got; hell, it's all they can even see.

I'm sure there's some joy in protecting their boundaries, and knowing they could rip the throat out of anyone who threatens it. But you've gotta wonder if it's worth it, if they wouldn't rather be spending their Sundays licking strangers on a beach.

So, yeah. Dogs. They are what we make them.


John said...

i must meet this dog

Elizabeth said...

See since it snowed yesterday... I'm feeling ridiculously envious of your 75 degree weather. Are you really sure you want to consider living in this ridiculous weather city again?

Tanya said...

I can't believe you were in SF WITH your dog and you didn't call me. Yes, I am stalking you via your blog.

Eden From Sweden said...

I think it's time to get Bailey a dog bra. She's a chick (some would call her a bitch, but not I), so it won't be as humiliating for her. Apparently, the dog bra keeps overly eager puppies from jarring their necks when they're on leash. Something about puppy ergonomics. Would you let your capitalist puppy settle for anything less? Oh lord. It's called a Dogzier.

mynewshoes said...

Ooh, I feel like I've stepped into a new yet familiar world of familiar people and unfamiliar places and distance and well, I'm really glad to be reading because you're funny and cool and far away.