Saturday, March 05, 2005

My Dog's More Pure Bred Than Yours

Yesterday Dixie, the Airedale dog, and I discovered a new place where she could run off leash. We had taken a ride over to Cambridge so I could scope out where the VFW hall was for a swing dance I was going to on Friday night. As anywhere outside of walking distance from the apartment is new, everywhere we go is an adventure. We load up the car with maps and guides, not that Dixie has any interest in how we get to where ever we’re going. Nonetheless, I’m always surprised at her tolerance for riding in the car. We’ve driven for up to 8 hours, going from Baltimore to Boston, and she’s never once complained. Maybe it’s because I’m not listening.

At the moment I’m reading the book, Learning Their Language, by Marta Williams. I’m currently on the chapters having to do with exercises on increasing the intuitive communication between my animal and me. I sit and look at Dixie and she lays there and looks back at me. I send out love and positive vibrations and she lays there and looks back at me. I still my mind and open myself to the universe and she lays there and looks back at me. Finally, I say “do you want a treat?” and she lays there and…no, actually, she thumps her tail on the floor, yawns and looks back at me as if to say - Ok, go get it already.

So we went over to Cambridge looking for this VFW hall, which we found successfully. Along the way, we discovered this place, Kingsley Park, which allows dogs to run off leash, so long as the owner can control the dog, clean up after it and all parties live in Cambridge. Kingsley Park sort of surrounds the reservoir, which provides Cambridge and some other towns close by with fresh drinking water. There’s a fence that goes around the reservoir to keep dogs, people and anything else that might want to get into the water out. A 2.5 mile trail circumnavigates the reservoir that walkers, runners and dogs all share, more or less equally, as each exercises their right to exercise in what ever manner they wish, within socially acceptable limits. I saw runners in spandex, walkers in mufflers, hats and heavy coats and dogs in the raw.

When we first pulled into the parking lot I saw signs on light poles closest to the park that said for Cambridge Residents Only so I parked in the back of the lot. Later on I found out that the entire parking lot was restricted to Cambridge Residents Only. Interlopers would receive a $10 fine. Fortunately, dumb luck and ignorance of the law did not conflict and I was able to get away with being there illegally.

While standing at the billboard reading the rules, regulations and upcoming and past events, I noticed what appeared to be contradictory information about dogs being on/off leash, where they could and couldn’t go, staying off the grass/being on it. So, being the kind of person I am, I stopped the first person with a dog who happened by to ask them about all this. Again, maybe by dumb luck or maybe it was just the confused look on my face, the dog walker turned out to be friendly and explained it all to me. We ended up, the four of us, two humans and two dogs, making the loop, talking and stopping to chat with other dogs and dog walkers along the way. We even met the dog police who wanted to know why the dogs didn’t have a license. I was going to say that Dixie had a license on, though it was from an area 400 miles away; but it wouldn’t have mattered as only a Cambridge license would have sufficed. So I didn’t say anything and let my newly found friend do all the talking. And I thought I was a story teller. This person, whom I came to know as Marget (at least that’s how her name sounded to me), told a story to the police person that was so outrageous, probably true and, by the time she was finished, had the cop with a look on her face that seemed to say – if I let her go on the license thing maybe she’ll shut up and go away.

Marget, a Christian Scientist therapist, was a really nice person. Dixie and her dog, a black lab, got along well, romping and playing in the snow and sniffing the spandex clad runners while they stretched along the fence line. Marget explained to me that the City of Cambridge was willing to make the accommodation for dogs in the park so long as the rules were followed and, since they didn’t want the woodworking effect to happen, restricted the park to valid Cambridge residents whose dogs also had valid City licenses. Marget told me that it got especially bad on weekends when folks from all over would descend on the park with their dogs.

At first I thought that sounded a little elitist but, upon reflection, agreed with her. I was reminded of Robert E. Lee Park, a reservoir area in my old city, which became a haven for city dwellers to take their dogs. Unfortunately, people didn’t pick up after their animals; and, dogfights were not uncommon. The couple times Dixie and I went there, the place was rife with feces and even walking on the paths required visual diligence. On a hot, humid summer’s day, the place literally reeked. Eventually, the City closed the park to everyone. So, I had to applaud the Cambridge City officials for working with the community and the community being willing to work with the City. It didn’t help me though, as Dixie and I would be considered felons whenever we went there. Marget told me to park across the street in the adjoining neighborhood and just come on over. I guess I’ll have to find out what color the dog licenses are and make Dixie a fake ID.

Marget and I and Dixie and her dog were enjoying the 2.5 mile walk. We met dogs and humans of all stripes, shapes and colors, most of whom were at least courteous. About two-thirds of the way around the reservoir a copper colored, wire-haired dog that almost looked like it had dread locks came along. Its eyes were completely covered by the hair hanging down over its face. I wondered how the poor thing could see where it was going. It came up to us, friendly as could be, and let me pet it. I asked the owner what kind of dog it was. I could tell it was a terrier, but didn’t recognize its type.

The owner told me it was an Irish Terrier. He then, in a very matter-of-fact way, launched into this story about how the Airedale was a man-made dog, one that came out of the Irish Terrier line. He said the Airedale was actually a cross breed, not pure like his dog. At first I was taken somewhat aback and wanted to say something like – yeah, well, at least my dog can see. I also wanted to counter with my own story about how Dixie was AKC registered, was from the offspring of the 2001 world champion Airedale Terrier, Dominik, Ch. Traymar’s the Dominator, and how my dog was better than your dog and you better take it back, buddy. But I didn’t. Who cares? If he felt better having a more pure bred dog than someone else’s, then that was his right. I don’t think Dixie, the Airedale dog, felt slighted. At least she didn’t say anything to me about it.


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