—Friendless and Fine With It at Dog Park
A: Well, my dear Friendless, it's better that this person abuse your dog with his/her behavior than with his/her foot, now isn't it? Let's back up a bit, though. Clearly you sensed that this person was a bit of a nut job, and you backed off. But we must admit, you didn't handle the situation properly. Although you may no longer have feelings for this person, he or she obviously believes that the relationship was not resolved satisfactorily, and now you and your dog pay a price every time you meet.
Now, you can continue along, do nothing, and see if the situation escalates. For example, in order to show you up, the person may begin to lavish your dog with expensive gifts, such as freeze-dried liver, cashmere sweaters with tail holes, or gift certificates to doggie nail salons. In which case, you will be forced to express gratitude and thereby give the person the conversational opening he/she has been desiring. You'll be forced to admit your jerkiness, but your dog will have gotten a good deal out of your failed friendship.
On the other paw, the person may may become increasingly frustrated with your lack of interest in his/her interest in your dog and turn nasty. S/he may begin spreading rumors about your dog's (or your) sexuality, true hair color, or off-label use of prescription medications. (No, I haven't heard anything--yet. Truly, I'd be the first to let you know.) Then, blowing him/her off would require an amount of patience and discretion that I suspect you lack. The situation will become ugly and require a show-down of epic proportions. And who wants that, especially when there are no cameras rolling?
What I'd suggest is a polite nod of the head or a smile and a wave as you pass this person on the trail. For bonus points, say hello to his/her dog in friendly—but not overly friendly—tones. By doing so, you acknowledge the person and the dog, but not his/her beef. You treat him/her the way you treat most fellow Parkers whom you don't know very well—with a modicum of respect due a comrade. Then just keep walking. Eventually someone else in the person's life will annoy or disappoint him/her more than you have, and s/he will have someone else to manipulate into feeling badly. Truly, you simply can't maintain your position as this person's shit-carrier forever. Thanks for writing!
Dear Readers: The Dog Parkist can barely bring herself to read or watch the news. Drought! Wild fires! Economic collapse! Rigged elections! She entreats you to avoid the news with her and to read entertaining blogs instead. Even better, write to blogs like this one with your questions about ethical, moral, and personal dilemmas! Won't we all feel better then? Cheers!