—Dazed and Confused in Dog Park
A: First of all, Dazed, let me be the first to welcome you to the great state of Texas. I, too, am from another part of the world—where the buildings are taller, the sky appears smaller, and people will suggest unspeakable things about one's mother but never actually pull a piece. I remember the confusion of being a newcomer to Austin as a twenty-something. The first time a little old man chatted me up in the dairy section of the HEB at Hancock Center, I immediately began scanning the store for security guards and red telephones. All the man said was, "Whole milk'll make you fat." Honestly, is there no privacy in this town? I now buy my dairy products over the Internet.
So, I feel your pain. Also your terror at being confronted by a crazy guy who may or may not have been packing at the time of your encounter. Unfortunately, Crazy Guy has a point. We Dog Parkers are indeed breaking a city ordinance by walking our dogs unleashed in an area not designated as leash-free. I understand. But, to be fair, one must also mention that threatening individuals with a weapon, real or otherwise, is much more serious offense—even when it is done in the greater service of humanity. (I have spoken to Crazy Guy myself; you must understand that his greater purpose in life is to prevent our unleashed dogs from running onto 45th Street, thereby endangering the lives and cars innocent drivers, who may themselves be breaking laws by speaking on cell-phones or driving while under the influence of illegal substances. Ooof! The lawlessness in this town!)
Best not to press the point with him, however. Otherwise the situation may devolve into a routine from a Yosemite Sam cartoon in which two gun-toting characters pull increasing larger weapons on each other until the one containing a lit stick of dynamite explodes messily in somebody's face. Here's the bottom line: The Dog Parkist tends to think that Crazy Guy is all unmedicated talk and no muscle. At worst, he might pull a phone on you and call the police. You, my dear, need only to leash your dog and keep walking and take deep breaths. I know that this advice might sound like capitulation, but life is best lived through compromise. You can't fight crazy with reason. And crazy is, technically, not yet illegal. (Imagine if it were!) At Dog Park, as at family reunions, crazy is best responded to with quiet disdain and fleet footwork. Thanks for writing!
Dear Readers: Do you disagree with The Dog Parkist's impeccable reasoning? Let her know through the usual channels. As always, thank you for reading.