So I says to this guy, “That your dog?”

“It is,” was his retort. Then he launches into a heartfelt diatribe about the shabby, surrounding terrain and the only remedy. About this time, my dog Ginger pinches a loaf, which I swiftly and responsibly scoop up with the complimentary hand glove provided at the entrance.

You may have guessed this conversation took place at the dog park during my first visit this summer. I realized I had met this gentleman– he prefers to remain nameless, so let’s just call him Milton Berle – before at this very venue. Nice guy; nice dog; nice day.

What was really grinding his valves as I repeatedly threw a slimy tennis ball into the lake for m’lady, is the high, patchy grass and weeds surrounding us. It was his first visit this year also and he wasn’t a happy camper. I should point out we weren’t literally camping; I’m just utilizing a seldom-used colloquialism, a big word only seasoned journalists like myself should ever attempt.

But the point here is the unkempt state of our fine dog park. Miltie’s next question left me flat-footed: “You know the only way to get anything done about it?” 

Without even giving me a chance to guess, he answered his own question: “Call City Hall and say you’re a tourist offended at the condition of the park. They’ll be there mowing within the hour.”

I’m assuming he exaggerated the timeframe, but I wondered if there was any truth to his claim. He added someone had made that same bogus call last year and it took the soon-arriving city crew all of 45 minutes to complete the job. 

While pondering, I put in a fresh chew of Copenhagen, realizing too late I had just transferred lake scum and dog saliva into my mouth. Oh well, it’s not the first time.

We parted with sweet sorrow, me thinking, “Does he know who he’s talking to? 

I have more clout in this little burg than the precious tourists he assumes are the sole priority of elected officials. “Mr. Hall, tear down those weeds!”

Yet, being accustomed to clutter and chaos (I actually saw a mouse scurry from  my microwave to behind the stove yesterday and I took it in stride), my bigger concern is dog neglect reports not even warranting a welfare visit – merely a call to the owner for a chat. That was my experience again last week, and in my book, there’s nothing more haunting than the nighttime howl of a lonely dog.

I guess the seldom-seen neighbor stated his telephone version, like “He likes being alone with his occasional backyard meal near his short tether.”

In fairness, I may just be jealous the judge never called me when I got in trouble back in ’06. Had he asked if I had been drinking and driving, my self-defeating honesty probably would have done me in. Still though, I’d like to have been given the option to lie.

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