Monday, June 22, 2009

The Dog Parkist: What Was Your Name Again?

Q: For some reason, Dog Parkist, I can remember the name of every dog I meet at Dog Park, but for the life of me, I can barely remember the people's names. What is wrong with me? Is there a trick you can share with your readers?
—Nameless in Austin

A: Dear—I'm sorry—Nameless was it?—I share your embarrassment. How uncomfortable is it to realize that you have just spent 20 minutes sharing intimate life details and personal problems with a person whose name you can't remember. You stare at the reflection of yourself in his dark sunglasses. How puny you look! You are so distracted that now you can't even remember your own name. What do you do? You pat the person's dog on the head and then excuse yourself to pick up poop. Later that night, as you drift off to sleep, the name Esme or Dwight or Raymond or Alice hovers above the dark, elastic surface of your mind, like a dragon fly fluttering over a tranquil pond. It disappears in a flash of green and gold, only to be devoured by an unseen but portly frog. You will never see the dragon fly or remember the name again. Alas. 

But, my dear, it doesn't matter. After all, who is the one likely to be running in the parking lot or chasing the garbage man or charging into the creek after a coyote—Frankie or Muzzy or Bailey or Scooter or Joey or Teddy or Max— or that dog's owner, whose name escapes me at the moment? Really, why do you even need to know the owners' names? We are a pretty civilized bunch. Are the people likely to roll in poo? Hump strangers? Jump up on other people's cars to get at the doughnuts? Stick their paws in other people's water supplies? Generally, no. So don't worry about the names. 

But, since you asked, here are some tips. 
  • Just call the person by the dog's name. Example, "Hey, Wilson's mom! He's rolling in something gross!" 
  • If you insist on using a name, try this formula. For women, use one or more of these names: Laura, Sarah, or Kathy. Those three names cover most of us. For men, try Mike, Dave, or Doug. There's a million of them. 
  • If you don't recognize either the person or the dog, why even bother with civilities? Use colorful descriptors that match the person's offending behavior. Example: "Hey, jerkface! Get off the effing phone and call your dog!" Warning: This solution may induce a situation in which you will probably have to learn the person's name in an unforgettable manner. 
Thanks for writing!


  1. I have a dream that we will one day create a Dog Park "yearbook" which will show photos of the DP'ers with their names alongside photos of their dogs and their dogs' names.

    One of these days...

  2. I decided last year that I just *had* to start learning people's names. Maybe it was the ghost of Emily Post sitting on my shoulder saying "your mother would be so disappointed!"

    Haha...Mike, Dave, or Doug...yeah, that'll get you pretty far.

  3. If only people wore tags. Imagine identifiers on wrist watches or phones that had not only names, but important medical info: "Hi, my name is Buffy, and I've had a recent flu shot."


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