Love came to my door
With a sleeping roll
And a madman's soul
He thought for sure I'd seen him
Dancing up a river in the dark
Looking for a woman
To court and spark
~ Joni Mitchell
Just like the co-ed gym took over the role of singles bar in the 90s, the dog park (and other dog related events like Mutt Struts, weight pulls, agility, herding, hunting trials, dock dogs, fly ball meets, dog shows) are taking over as the place to meet new people in the new millennium.
It makes sense, if you think about it. Dogs are chick and guy magnets, and if you love dogs, what better way to meet people with the same interests and values than at places or events where other people who share that love of dogs congregate. You aren't likely to meet someone who is going to expect you to put the dog away in the crate when they're at your place, or throw a fit if the dog jumps up on the sofa while you're watching a movie, and probably won't get too upset -- or permanently lose a mood -- if the dogs nose open the bedroom door, or freak out if the dog follows them into the bathroom.
Meeting people at a dog park has other advantages, too. For one thing, if, by chance, you do run across some creep who is using a dog to help him gain access, you're there in the middle of a dog park -- with your dog. Even if your dog is tiny, there is a high probability there are going to be others there who aren't, and any disturbance is enough to bring a regiment of curious or furious canine cavaliers galloping to the rescue, or at least to interfere long enough for you to get out of the situation.
“I feel funny, talking to a stranger!” Dogs are a greater social lubricant than alcohol. Stop and think about the last time someone asked you a question about your dog or complimented him. You didn't have any trouble talking to a stranger then, did you? You just babbled right on, talking about your dog, the breed, the time your dog bailed you out
of a real jam, the way he always knows when you feel down, how he's a great judge of people and you can always tell if someone's a good guy because of the way your dog reacts to him.
And guys, you know who you are, you get all stupid when in the presence of That Girl. The only time you can talk intelligibly and not stare at her chest is when she's talking baby talk to your dog, or hers. How easy is it to walk up to her and tell her you like her dog, or ask her what breed it is or where she got it? Or pick up a stick and throw it for her dog. Or throw your dog's ball next to where she's sitting? You might ask her for some help you with some training and explain - after he's run up to her and stuck his nose in her crotch -- that his only real trick is picking out the most gorgeous woman at the park.
When you go to the dog park, or any other doggy affair, go prepared to socialize yourself as well as your dog. Don't wear the raggedy sweats, put on those jeans that F-I-T, or at least a clean pair! Brush your teeth, stick a roll of breath mints in your pocket. Pack an extra bottle of water, maybe an extra apple to share, an extra ball for a new
friend's friend, throw a few more treats in the goody bag, and maybe an extra waste bag. Guys, that usually makes a great impression.
It's not that difficult if you give it some thought and, like the shoe says, “just do it.”
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