07 April 2009

The story about the sun hats.

Yesterday morning we went up to the forest. Been keeping Ruby from running, so no one has been to the forest for a while. But since she looks fine right now, on her meds, took them up to the easy forest where usually only those other 2 run anyways. Ruby trots alongside me there. She's never liked this forest much. Not sure why. There's pesky joggers in there, and she always gets this paranoid, over the shoulder look when she senses people in tight pants running up behind her. Like the British are coming! if the British wear shiny black skin tight bottoms or little skimpy nylon shorts that flap over running legs. Whatever it is, she keeps her cool in this forest and no manic running. This is the forest though, where I have to keep Gustavo and Ottepop on leashes until we get up to the trail to the springs, where I let them run. So they're impatient.

It's spring break for a bunch of schools around here, so the other people using the forest today, besides homeless guys, the super scarey German Shepherd ladies and runners were moms with packs of kids in floppy sun hats. Like every single kid had a floppy cloth sun hat on. I guess global warming totally trying to fry baby skin on baby faces and that's what you do to your kids. But right? Isn't it weird to see these packs of kids and they're not related packs and EVERY SINGLE ONE, floppy cloth hat, held on by a string?

I have the forest runners out ahead of me, pulling me along with their combined 25lbs because they know the running part of this forest comes later and it's best to get there really fast. Like NOW, slow lady. Ruby doesn't ever wear a leash, and she's sort of lolly gagging along behind so we're not making very good time as we head out through the meadow to the woods. Team Small Dog manages to stay spread out sometimes, even when 2/3 of them leashed up to me. So one of the floppy hat kid gangs sort of making time on us, and I can hear the conversation with the mom and the 2 little shortie boys she has with her.

"Yes, the lady has THREE dogs."

"Can you count them, there's three"

I hear this a lot. The way parents talk to their kids who can barely talk, have to hold up pretty much both ends of the conversation since the shorter end basically just mumbles and can say meow and moo and woof.

"Yes, and they're all BLACK. Three BLACK dogs."

"I wonder what the doggies names are. Do you want to know the dogs' names?"

This lady, has a particularly grating kidspeak voice. I have blackboard fingernail of irritation walking behind me. The British are coming. I get it Ruby. I like kids. I probably talk to them weird too. But this lady's voice, already grating on me. Maybe it's the matching sun hats bugging me. I dunno.

"I don't know what their names are. Maybe the lady knows."

"Maybe the lady will tell you their names."

"I bet the lady will tell you their names."

So this is my cue, right? But it's like, Ms. Lady in your Oprah wear, drove your Hybrid Hylander up to the trail head and somehow got these floppy hats on your moppets and got them out of the car seats and onto the path, and hats off to you - no offense meant here, not trying to fry your skin - for getting them out of the house and this far. But it's like weird and almost passive aggressive, to keep kid speaking in a loud voice behind me, when I think you are asking me, actually, Adult, the question.

Your kids can't talk hardly, right? Maybe that kid mumble meow moo was them asking. But I'm pretty sure not. So Ms. Parent, with your frazzled look yet still well cut hair, how about you just ask me? Use your outside voice if you want. But hey lady, talk to me.

She's right up on me now, the kids sort of in tow, sort of under their own steam. Possibly problematic, if 2 kids dive on my dogs at once. Gustavo and Ruby, pretty darn bombproof but probably not perfect. Otterpop, never done a darn thing to a kid or anyone. But she's unpredictable and weird and doesn't like kids if they don't have a stick or a tennis ball. Would just prefer to not be near them and unknown kids launching themselves potentially on top of her, not a good thing.

So I stop. Gather up dogs.

"You want to pet a doggy?" I ask the kids.

"Look, it's the doggies! You can find out the doggys' names!"

Kids are fast approaching.

"Pet the red leash dog."

This is Gustavo. He's the best one. He likes everybody. Ruby will let kids pet her, but sometimes more interested in what they got. Crackers? Kids always have crackers. Or maybe ice cream. Useful to have different color leashes on everyone for this whole reason, because we walk in the neighborhood a lot and everyone always wants to pet doggies.

I line up Ruby in kid firing range. "Pet this one too. You guys - don't pet black leash dog."

Otterpop knows her cue. She's got a black leash, and she knows how to step behind me and just move herself away from kids. She's no dummy. If they're handing out food, she'll get in there, but otherwise, she just gets behind me, and frequently, lays down.

Goddamn lady still not talking to me. Talking to her kids. I'm right HERE lady.

"Careful petting the doggy. Do you like it? Only pet this one."

Gustavo, so cute with kids. They can hug him, squeeze him, and he licks them in his face. Ruby allows petting and will just quietly stand there and even let you poke her in the eye if you want. Because of that possiblity of crackers. Gustavo, he just likes people. Loves the attention. He has way more friends than me. Within 5 minutes hitting the beach on a busy weekend evening, he's made friends with 8 sets of picnics. People take their picture with him. Everyone loves Gustavo.

"This is Gustavo you guys, with the red leash. This one is Ruby. Otterpop doesn't like petting. Don't pet her."

Invariably, this sends all the kids over to Otterpop to stare at her. She lays down and looks away. I love this about Otterpop. She's very, very clear.

One of the kids steps on Gustavo and he kind of squeaks in pain, that small dog sound you hear when you step on one when they're milling about the kitchen floor while you're preparing cocktails or meat based snacks. The mom grabs the kids.

"CAREFUL! Oh my god! Are you ok?"

Lest you think she's saying this to my tiny dog with tiny feet, it's to the kid. She pulls them away.

"Are you OK? Did it hurt you?" She's grabbing the tinier kid's hand and checking. The kid is like, Huh? He has on tiny little orange sneakers.

Also, by the way, the mom has never once acknowledged me. I tell her, "He stepped on the dog. That was the dog."

She looks at me, finally. "What?" She has a pointy little nose like a beak.

"The dog. He stepped on the dog and he squeaked. He's ok. It happens to him a lot. He's little."

"You have to be careful with dogs. They can bite." She is sort of grabbing the kids back and away.

I'm irritated. That's a registered Pet Assisted Therapy dog there. That you're kind of insinuating possibly bit your kid, who's voice you can't tell from my dog's voice. I mean, whatever. But still.

I sort of stand there for a second. She has the kids backed up at a safe distance, like I'm showing them a nice, hungry snake. All I can think of is, damn, irritating lady. Good luck with this whole kid thing.

"Bye you guys." I'm off. Why bother. Give your kids your nervous dog phobia. I'm out of it.

We keep going. Passing other packs of kids in identical hats. Gap Kids had a sale? They pass these out now as regulation equipment?

We finally get up to the Spring Box trail. That's where running starts. No kids around. They don't walk out this far. German shepherd ladies, they took another route. Today they just ran by and one of the dogs, barking as she yanked and jerked it by us. Whoa. I let my dogs off, and for a while, it's just us up there on the forest trail, running up, to the top, down the side, back up and we do the trail a few times. Until I'm out of breath, Otterpop and Ruby out of breath, and Gustavo covered in redwood tree pieces and mud from running through the spring. But him, never out of breath.

We finally come back down to the main trail. Those 2 go back on leashes, Ruby goes back to her trot with me, and we walk back out to where it's going to be mini vans and floppy hats and more kids petting the doggies.


Anonymous said...

How very (appropriately) curmudgeonly of you! You are my hero! (And I speak as one who used to had three of those sub-adult humans in tow -- but I never called a dog a "doggie" -- at least I like to think not).

BTW, you seem to be approaching classic short-story form more and more these days. ...TSD leader was showing signs of early cracking...Ruby was getting no joy of crackers...Otterpop was clearly looking way......Gustavo the Good was being Maybe Too Good...tension was rising...and then: squeaky climax and comedy denouement.

team small dog said...

Very excellent, approaching classic denouement. I thought I was just reporting the facts, ma'am.

corinne said...

I feel your pain. So much easier to train dogs than to train people. I hate it when parents want to have their kids pet Marley and then she licks the kid on the hand (or - heaven forbid - the face) and they start pulling out their antibacterial wipes and rushing their little ones safely away from my germy K9.

elizabeth said...


Glad you were able to ditch the idiot and have a good run with your dogs.

Sometimes I'm really glad I'm now living in middle of nowhere Montana and hardly ever see anybody when I'm out running with my dogs.