Thursday, March 26, 2009

Common Sense Goes to the Dogs

Last weekend, a much anticipated “dog park” opened in my fair city to considerable fanfare by municipal leaders and gushing enthusiasm by dog lovers. A “dog park” as you well know, is one of those rare places in society where a person can allow his dog to roam free, unleashed from the stern and condemning eye of a paranoid public. Dog parks were unheard of 20 years ago, but have become de rigueur given our incessant quest for a society completely devoid of anything unsafe, unsanitary or unsavory. They have become a necessary evil because there is absolutely no place else an unleashed dog can go in society without risk of his master receiving a citation.

The extent to which we have taken our idiocy can be seen on any given weekend in the hills and foothills of Southern California. If you take a hike or go out for a bike ride, you will come across several folks enjoying the unstructured wide open spaces with their canine companions. Invariably, however, those companions will be tethered to their masters by a leash. Worse, their masters will be carrying a little plastic baggie full of dog poo like it’s the most natural thing in the world.

Aside from the more humiliating aspects of packing around a little baggie full of dog feces, and ignoring for the moment the embarrassing daintiness with which most owners carry their pet’s poo, the whole notion of picking up poo where the deer and coyote roam is absurd. Poo is poo after all, yet I don’t see any concerted effort underway by the poo patrol to hit the trails with little blue baggies to clean up after the undomesticated critters that foul the very same trails trod upon by dogs.

My God, where did we go wrong? I think it must have started with sweaters for dogs and then taken off from there. And the sad thing is nobody seems to think anything of it. We seem to have adopted a collective mind-set that reaching down and picking up a steaming pile of shit, or harnessing a dog in the wild, is normal, adult behavior. Worse, actually, those who think otherwise are viewed as deviants. So call me a deviant if you must, but we’re sliding down a slippery slope here. If we don’t stop and regain our senses now, the next thing you know men will begin to abandon Retrievers, Labs and other manly breeds and start prancing around like Paris with their cute and clothed Chihuahuas. Oh, whoops, too late…