Dog park is also a place with permeable boundaries. The fluidity I mentioned yesterday also applies to the population. Months can go by before someone says, "Whatever happened to so-and-so—and her owner?" And then we all scratch our heads. As in any community, people and their dogs come and go. One dog was lucky enough to move to London. (Lucky Monkey!) A bunch have migrated to Seattle--a place where a dog can enjoy summer for a change. Of course, dogs get old and die. So do their owners. Dog Park is full of little memorials for those who have left us.
I'd heard tales of the memorial to a woman who died before I discovered Dog Park. She'd died of cancer, I think. I don't know what kind of dog she had. In her last months, she'd hobbled around the park with a cane. After she died, one man told me, as a memorial, her friends had tossed her cane up into the trees. Surely I had seen it. For years, I looked for it. I assumed it had fallen down or been removed by the tree trimmers who occasionally come through and decimate the live oaks, pecans, and wild plum trees that line the trails. Then one day, for no particular reason, I looked up into the trees, live oaks that form a canopy over a steep and rocky part of the trail, and there it was—a thick wooden cane with a rubber stop on the bottom, stuck like a fish hook in the thicket of branches. I actually felt a little zing as unwanted thoughts of mortality injected themselves into the place I go to chill out and socialize. It was like seeing a tombstone sitting on a stool at your favorite bar, or a death notice in the middle of the comics page of the newspaper. Then, of course, I forgot all about it. I went back to looking down, watching my own feet on the rocks, because I'm a bit of a clutz, and it seems safer somehow. But I'll look again to if it is still there, having survived yet another season or two or three hanging silently above us.