The Dog Park Gives Life New Meaning
When my husband, Michael, and I were newlyweds, we had two fur babies: a black labrador retriever named Brocco and a yellow labrador retriever named Homer. Treating them like we had birthed them ourselves, their happiness was intricately tied to ours. I even wore a picture of them in a locket around my neck.
Homer and Brocco were a funny duo. Their opposite personalities were reminiscent of the main characters, Felix and Oscar, from the classic TV show The Odd Couple. Although, unlike the show, one wasn’t neat while the other was messy, but rather, Brocco was food obsessed and a bit lazy, while his brother, Homer, ate only out of necessity and could never get enough exercise.
Michael and I spent a lot of time with our boys, taking them to local dog parks around New York City. Giggling from a corner bench, we would watch their double-team routine: Homer would distract a dog from the front, so Brocco, could hump the innocent canine from behind. Often, the dog’s owner didn’t think it was as funny as we did and would flash us an angry look, but for the most part, many of our dog park friends didn’t seem bothered by their shenanigans.
When our children were born, Michael and I did our best to continue showering our canine offspring with attention, making sure they were properly exercised. However, when the kids became toddlers, our dog park days were soon replaced with outings to the playground.
Fast forward nearly two decades, and I have found myself back at the dog park with our newest family member, Barry White, our fun-loving, spirited Old English sheepdog. Ironically, as I transition into a new chapter of my life, with my oldest child heading off to college, and my sixteen-year-old driving now, I feel as though I have come full circle to where I started in the beginning of my marriage—only this time, I’m much wiser, a lot older, and have a greater appreciation for the little things in life.
Barry White is the most social dog we’ve ever had. He’s happiest when he’s chasing and playing with his canine peers at the dog park. So, of course, I try to take him there as often as I can. While he’s running around having fun, I pass the time chatting with my new dog park friends.
Watching our canines goofing around, we anthropomorphize them. Barette is the mall cop, observing the others from atop a picnic table, only jumping off when he has to stop a dog that’s getting too aggressive. Barry White, a.k.a Dennis the Menace, chases his soul mate, Mia, around, like a desperate male trying to win the affection of his lady. Old man Baxter waddles in and hangs out in the back. The four-month-old puppy, Delilah, tries to keep up with the older dogs, and gives off her high-pitched bark whenever another dog gets too aggressive.
For an hour each day, while the dogs play, we humans get the added benefit of socializing with one another, an important ingredient for boosting our mental health, a win-win for everyone.
A motley crew, indeed, my new friends and I come from different walks of life, varying in age, appearance, socioeconomic class, etc. But, none of that matters. In fact, meeting people and sharing stories with each other is what makes the experience refreshing.
The unconditional love for our furry children serves as the common denominator that unites us. This is what life is supposed to be about, because deep down, on a soul level, we’re are all one, connected to each other, to nature, and to the animal kingdom. If everyone could maintain this philosophy, the world would be filled with a greater sense of compassion.
I invite anyone who needs more fulfillment in their lives to adopt a dog, or borrow one if need be, and head over to the dog park with an open mind and an open heart, and the odds are your serotine levels will dance in delight.