01 May 2015

How the law works over here in our corner of the west.

photo courtesy of the Banksy who is not a dog.

We lost our field this week. It's rotten and it sucks, but when you're not a landowner this is what happens and you can either go down with a fight (see much of teamsmalldog.com circa 2006-2008 from the last time our neighborhood field got took away) or you can just move on.

There was a protest. It did not include looting or setting anything on fire. A handful of quiet, gray haired people walked over from the mobile home next door with some labradoodles and a couple of chihuahuas. In their loose fitting pants and floppy sun hats, they sat outside the extremely clean picture windows of the oceanside meeting room where the ginormous building project and the changes to the animal policy for the field were being discussed and chatted in the sun.

I sat inside and took notes. It was clear in this scenario who would be the winner and who would be the loser. Clear to me anyway. I took good notes just the same.

At some point, a protestor with one of those wicker visors that offer extra wide sun protection taped a poster to the window with easy to remove blue masking tape that said something about animals and nature and people co-existing. She made sure to untape it after the meeting.

They brought water for their dogs in a little plastic bowl, and sat there, just outside, while the building plan was outlined. When it was over, one of them brought in a stack of petitions asking that they reconsider the new policy of no dogs allowed. It was one I signed last week. Everybody did. The squat, sour faced Chancellor of Risk and Safety Services, running the meeting in her shapeless gray pantsuit accepted them, saying, Thank you Ma'am, then probably tossed them into the recycle bin on the way out.

The same Chancellor, who reminds me of a faded military boss, squarely cut hair lined up with squarely set jaw, deployed faux cops this week into the field. Nervous looking pairs of students with police radios and navy blue polo shirts were on patrol, tasked with being who has to start kicking out the dogs.

I could see them coming from far off. I thought I had moved on, but I just wanted to walk the dogs out to the bluff in the field by my house. Not so much to ask. Just this One. More. Time. Because right by my house. And where I have walked my dogs since I've had dogs, since before the buildings, since before labradoodles were even a thing. Since before a lot of things were things.

We stood in the path, taking our time, listening to birds and traffic sounds, watching them make their way up to us. The dogs didn't care. They were just on a walk.

The boy approached me, "Are these your dogs? he asked.

"Are you talking to me? I answered, "About these dogs?" gesturing around me at all four.

Blind and quiet Ruby standing by my leg. She can't see past my leg so that's where she stays. This is her best walk ever. A straight line to the cliff, she has done this walk for all of her 15 years, so many times, in rain and sun and wind and fog. Down and back to the cliff.

At Otterpop who just took a dump. I am holding her shit in a plastic wheat bread bag.

At Gooey who is sniffing some weeds and frolicking alone, the way he does.

At Banksy who is being a border collie and who is coming over now because The People Are Her Best FRIENDS! but then she is off because there are some weeds and some grass and she is over there then she's over there.

"These dogs," he points around, vaguely. "Are these your dogs?"

I approach the faux cops even closer than they approach me. The boy seems nervous, the girl is smiling. She's short, he's tall. How old you have to be to be a junior cop?

"Why do you ask? Because I don't believe we've met. I'm Laura. And you are?"

I stick out my hand. The one not holding dog shit in a bread bag.

The boy does all the talking. He has a lot of pimples and a hair cut that is either really ironic, or it was done like that by someone's mistake. He seems like a nice boy. He doesn't shake my hand.

He explains that he's an ambassador to the police and it's his job to inform people blah blah blah blah blah. It's about the dogs. Today is the day this begins. I listen to his script. I tell them both it must be a hard job to have to kick people out who have walked their dogs exactly here in this spot every day since before they were even born. I smile at the girl. She smiles back. There really isn't that much left to say. We tell each other to have a nice day, me and the girl and the boy. I'm glad they don't have guns. Just radios, that call, who? The real cops that have the guns?

Nobody is going to shoot nobody out here over walking some dogs. I guess. Cops aren't supposed to do shit like that.

It's fine. The bulldozers have already started. There's a big yellow backhoe parked where the grease weed used to grow. The birds sounded sad last time I was there just past dawn. There are roads to build and parking lots to pave and huge sparkly buildings and pathways and stairs and landscaping and labs and light posts and lights and things that this field needs. The dogs, they disrupt the nature, a particular type red legged frog. And I guess some kind of turtle. And native grass. I think these are the foxtails. So they can't be there. But the buildings can.

So then we left and I took the dogs over to the pond down the road and even though it was cold I threw some sticks for Banksy and she had a nice swim. And we went over to the soccer field by the skateboard park, and some gangster kids with a german shepherd watched Banksy and Otterpop and Gustavo do stays and their tricks and run fast after the ball. Ruby can't go there. It's too wide open for a dog who can't see and too much chance for potential mean dogs.

I hope the protesters keep at it. They are a nice lot, hoping that they can save the field for how it used to be. Some of them are living in that mobile home park til they die and that field's their back yard. For me, I'm done with it and a big lesson I've learned by now in my life is don't mess with the cops, even if they're the junior kind without any guns. It's not us that call the shots. We're the ones that lose. We've been told to make adjustments to better align our actions with our goals for the tangible benefits. That's a shitty thing to say, but it's a real thing that they told us. Whatever. We've had to move along before. So off we go again.


Playing with the Big Dogs said...

This is very well written and I enjoyed reading it but it makes me sad. I'm sorry you lost your field.

Tammy Moody said...

Time to move along..like up north...PNW. xoxoxo

Tammy Moody said...

and poison oak too!

Agility Foot said...

You can't fight the UC system. Looking out my office window, were once lived a "Protected Area" with a little wetlands in the winter and some little protected fish living underground in the summer now stands a big, fat, new building, covering the "protect area" with concrete and steel. EPA has nothing over UC.