Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Chance Meeting

I think dogs talk to each other. Out loud and silently.

I'm standing inside a dog park in Kingman, Az, surrounded by unusual dogs. There's a Silken Windhound, a Rez Dog, a  American Indian Dog, a Rhodesian Ridgeback and a Chinese Shar Pei. And, of course, my two Royal Standard Poodles.

Usually, a dog park provides more common fare: lots of mixes, Boxers, Schnauzers, Pit Bulls, many Labs and Lab mixes.

The kinds of dogs we meet today differ by their pedigrees, but the result's the same: a whirlwind of activity, chasing, leaping, sniffing and more chasing. And, barking. Lots of barking. Happy barking. They all speak the same language.

And while they all talk to each other, I talk to their people.

Like Alona. She creates landscapes in oils and watercolors and owns the Windhound (pic below with Allen and Joshua; notice she's airborne), whose lineage reaches back into the long-haired Borzois and Whippets.

And  Louisa, a high school librarian. She owns Patches (no pic, sorry), the Rez Dog, who was hit by a car when she was 5 months old and survived only because Louisa came along.

While Louisa unfolds Patches' life story for me, I'm distracted by what looks like the Pillsbury Dough Boy spilling out of a car in the parking lot. The dog is so big and fat, it takes a while for the all of it to collect together as one dog on solid ground.

I soon discover this big dog has one big pedigree.

Her name is Addison. She's 3-years-old and is an American Bulldog with direct lineage to the dog who played Chance in the movie "Homeward Bound." He's her great-great-great granddaddy, says Ralph, her owner, a very big man, quite like his very big dog.

Addison was a gift from his daughter three years ago when his Great Dane died. His Dane, he says, was so tall, she'd snatch stuff off the top of his refrigerator. Addison can't do that. She's big, but she's fat, mostly because she's heavily medicated for a laundry-list of allergies.

Her weight slows her down. Noticeably. Even though she's unleashed and free to roam, she stays right with Ralph, alternately standing, then sitting. I look around and notice none of the other dogs, not even my own, stop by to play.

 And the other people in the park have spread out, giving this monstrous dog and her owner space, lots of space.

And a still overcomes the park. I hear no barking. There's no chase.

After a while, Addison and Ralph lumber away. He stuffs her back into the car, like a down pillow into a duffle bag.

With Addison gone, the still breaks; chaotic dog play resumes.

Hmmm. I wonder. Did Addison order the quiet?  Did she tell the other dogs to stay away? And they all then obeyed?


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