by April 23, 2013 at 2:00 pm 1 Comment


The dog park at 17th and S Streets NW. ( Luis Gomez Photos)

From Cara Scharf. Email her at cara[AT]

On most Saturdays, you can find me at the S Street Dog Park. It sounds normal until you learn that I don’t have a dog. I’m a self-professed “dog-park stalker,” one of those people who stands outside the fence, staring longingly at other people’s dogs because I’m not lucky (read, stable) enough to have my own.

Who You’ll Find at the Dog Park

In all my ogling, I’ve noticed that there are a couple of dog and owner archetypes that inhabit the dog park. Here are a few:

  • The helicopter owners: Watch out, Fido. These people are not leaving you alone for a second. Find a neat stick? Prepare to be scolded. Want to run with the other dogs? Good luck making it three feet before you’re called back. The helicopter owners rarely socialize with other humans, unless it’s to shake their head in commiseration about bad behavior.
  • The social butterfly owners: These owners know everyone else’s name and business. As soon as they arrive, they’re exchanging greetings and asking how your party went last night. This often results in the owners ignoring their dog’s bowel movement or “excessive barking” (which, according to a stern sign, is prohibited).
  • The old dog who can’t be bothered: Take a cue from the white hairs on this dog’s muzzle — he or she is not down with the running around and general merriment of the dog park. You’ll find this dog sitting under a bench out of the sun, but you’ll find its owner in the middle of a snarling pack of canines, desperately encouraging socialization.
  • The runner dog: The gate of the dog park is hardly closed and this dog is already off, running circles around the pee-drenched grass with several other dogs hotly on his tail. He can also take the form of an instigator, the one who doesn’t mind getting in a scuffle or showing some tooth to prove his dominance. Owners might be too absorbed in their cell phones to notice this behavior, or they’re just not sure what to do about it.
  • The little butt-sniffer and the big-butt sniffee who could care less: Self-explanatory… though I should clarify that these are dogs and not humans.

Where do you and your dog fit, or are you a stalker like me?

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