Venice on the web
A semi-regular column
Doggin' it at the Woodmere Paw Park
- John Patten, 01/20/01 firstname.lastname@example.org
Need a dog? Download one from here.
Got a comment? Make it here.
Woodmere Paw Park, on Woodmere Park Blvd, is open daily. There is no cost for admission -- map and directions.
There are two kinds of people in the world: those that love dogs, and those whose opinion doesn't matter. The latter fall under the categories of cat housers, exotic parrot fetishists, fish tank gawkers or lone hermits.
I read once that there is (somewhere) a Jesuit or Benedictine monastery that dedicates itself to studying the unique emotional and spiritual bond between a dog and its owner, that their philosophy is that there is nothing so pure as that relationship.
Cats, incidentally, are not part of that study. These monks know, and I'll assume it's from divine authoritative knowledge, that dogs are superior to cats. Heck, even Snoopy knows this.
Sarasota County Parks and Recreation Department also knows this (and who am I to argue with them?). That's why the Paw Park on Woodmere Park Boulevard exists. It's for dogs. Not cats (although the occasional cat dropped in the middle of the park might prove to be highly entertaining).
From a dog's perspective, this place is cool. Mondo cool. Plenty of wide open space for those get-outta-my-way speed runs, lots of bushes and trees to sniff and pee on, auto-refill water bowls, and picnic tables for the occasional idiot who actually thinks he might eat lunch unmolested. The dogs watch carefully for these people, who are arriving with increased rarity these days.
For dog owners like me, this place is a real bonus. About every three days, Amos displays his displeasure at being indoors for large intervals of time (that's him on the right - I think he's half shepherd, half corgi; those stubby little legs of his make him one of the oddest looking mutts I've ever seen). Incredibly annoying whining and pacing ensues, with an occasional escape out the front door. Two hours at the park means I can catch up on my technical reading, while Amos gets to sniff all the butts he wants to. On the ride home, he usually passes out from exhaustion, and remains relatively docile for the next two days or so.
The Woodmere Paw Park is about three acres of fenced in area, with a smaller fenced in area for small dogs that don't get along too well with the bigger guys. There are specific rules, which include a ban on aggressive dogs, bitches in heat and dog poop. There are several dispensers of poop scoop bags (1MB mpg video) in convenient locations for this purpose. There's even a time-out cage for those over-excited moments when dogs will be dogs.
And there's dogs. Sometimes lots of dogs. Dogs of all sizes and colors. Smart dogs, dumb dogs, beautiful dogs, ugly dogs, purebreds, pound mutts, young overly-energetic pups and old hounds who would rather just sit and watch. And dog owners - my kind of people. These are optimistic folks who know that blind love does actually exist in one of the purist of forms.
What has always amazed me about dogs is how we can co-exist with them in the way we do. They become unique members of the family, yet theirs is a world that we can barely sniff. Humans and dogs see the same world in entirely different ways. When dogs are with their own, size, shape, color, economic status -- none of these things matter. What matters is speed and body odor - how fast you are and what your butt smells like.
At the Paw Park, I rarely find that I am really able to read. I end up studying the interactions: dogs with dogs and humans with dogs. I've given up on trying to actually play with Amos -- he hasn't a clue what to do with a tennis ball, and Frisbees genuinely terrify him. I generally sit back and just watch. Merely by observing, I think I now have the social art of butt-sniffing down pat.
John Patten is the head of Web Operations for Creative Pages, and has worked in broadcasting for over 12 years. He can also be incredibly rude at times.