Friday, June 16, 2017

Big Tyson Goes to the Dog Park

"Hey!" the man called out from the middle of the double gate entrance at the dog park. "Does this dog belong to any of you?" He stood in the small enclosure with a woman and two dogs.

"Not mine!" I yelled. Other people looked around and shouted that he wasn't theirs either. Nice people that they were, these two stood there between the two gates for a while, not quite knowing what to do. They petted their fat antsy poodle mix. The other dog, a powerful sleek orange dog danced by the gate. He wanted to come in.

"Just let him in," the man with the Aussie puppy shouted. "He'll be fenced in in any case."

"He looks like a nice dog," the woman with a pit mix shouted.

And the people opened the gate. Pandemonium ensued, but only the best kind of pandemonium. Happy dogs stole balls, pulled on sticks, and wrestled with each other. A short dog humped the big orange dog's face. The big guy rolled over, sprang up, and bowed. He looked powerful enough to beat the crap out of a dog that just humped his face but he wasn't that kind of guy.

Chase ensued and a string of dogs raced across the green grass with the mountain as a backdrop behind them.

"Did his people ever show up?" the man with the poodle mix asked.

I looked around. Connections between people and dogs were loose, but most of the dogs looped around to their owners from time to time. No one claimed the friendly orange dog. I looked at people across the field. Each human silhouette trailed a dog's.

"I don't think he has an owner here," I said. "How did he get past the first gate into the park?"

"He was already there when we came," the man said. "I thought he was having a time-out."

"Come here, Buddy," he said and held out his hand to the friendly orange dog. My dog ran over to him to be petted. Then another dog and finally the orange one came to be petted.

The orange dog pulled against the man when he grabbed his collar and finally went down onto his back in surrender. That only made it harder for the man to read the etchings on his tag.

"Tyson! Good boy."

Tyson leaped to his feet and ran in a circle around the man.

"Maybe we should call if there's a number on his collar," I suggested.

The man grabbed for Tyson's collar again. The two of them wrestled in an awkward tug of war for a minute, twisting the collar around the man's fingers. Then, the man yelled out a phone number.

I forgot the number as soon as he said it. And I didn't have my phone out of my pocket either. He let go of the orange dog's collar and tried to ignore my mumblings while he dialed the number he'd just yelled out.

"Hello?" he said. I could only hear half of a conversation. "Do you know Tyson? ... Yes. He's here at the dog park. You can? Okay. See you in a bit."

I was suddenly glad I'd stayed a few minutes longer than I had time for.

"There should be a children's picture book about Tyson's solo trip to the dog park," I said.

The man's wife said, "Mom, you were too busy, doing laundry and dishes, and so I thought I'd take a trip to the park on my own. I am a big dog now. I can go all by myself."

I laughed. 

And Tyson ran across the field with my Teddy and a fluffy black dog named Pixie. He was wiggling on his back with Pixie when a woman came through the gate without a dog of her own.

I laughed again. "Your dog came to the dog park all by himself," I said, still laughing. Tyson ran over to her and wiggled a stubby tail. I didn't really think to look at the woman's face.

"Thank you," she said to me.

"I didn't do a thing. He was the one." I pointed to the man. She walked over to the man and I watched as she quietly thanked him, her voice hitching as she spoke. Her eyes were wide. She stopped for a minute, bent over, and hugged Tyson. He kept on wiggling and licking her face as she clicked a leash onto his collar and walked with him out the double gate.

The man looked at his wife. "She couldn't even speak on the phone, as if she'd been crying. She couldn't talk just now either."

"Good job, hon," his wife said. "A happy ending for Big Tyson Goes to the Dog Park."  I hope she writes that story.

Thank you for listening, jb

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