This morning at the dog park I got irked by a man who wouldn’t keep his dog from trying to pick a fight with my dog. His dog was relentless, chasing, body-slamming, humping so much that my mild-mannered dog, Swirl, snapped back. He finally leashed up his dog and we split up on the trail.
Even while I was immersed in my aggravation, I realized that a few months ago I had a dog, albeit very briefly, who herded every dog he encountered, picked fights, pinned smaller dogs, and took running jumps onto the laps of people sitting on benches enjoying the sunshine.
How fast we forget.
I have been enjoying the sense of superiority enjoyed by a mother whose kid has never tantrumed in a grocery store. Other people might have awful dogs but I don’t. And, oddly, and pretty quickly, I’ve lost any empathy I might have once had for the owners of bad dogs. I only had empathy for people with bad dogs when I had a bad dog. Then we were in it together.
I’ve crossed over. I’m with the moms whose kids sit quietly in the grocery cart and sing songs from day care and never ask for candy at the checkout. I’m with the moms who shake their heads at the screaming two-year old in the next lane over grabbing gum from the rack and throwing it over his mother’s head at the old lady trying valiantly to smile and be understanding.
Never mind that I’ve had this dog for six weeks and he spent his entire life of seven years raised in a kennel with 200 other sled dogs so however well-behaved he is has zero to do with me or my dog handling capabilities.
I’m not going to let that small piece of history bother me. I’m going to act like I belong here – with all the other owners of good dogs. This is my life now. I’ve earned it after all those years at the grocery scrambling around putting the gum back in the rack.