Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Calling All Slatterns: This is Not a Dog Park

Well, those of you who belong to the Dog Park listserv are probably bathing your eyeballs, singed as they were by the flame throwing that took place this morning. Shall I briefly recap? I'll begin by using the passive voice in order to deflect blame. We've had enough of that around here.

Cute and artfully taken dog photos were innocently posted by Richard (Elinor and Zoey). Next, a curt response was posted by a Dog Park neighbor whose e-mail account was apparently overloaded by Richard's pix. The neighbor requested that we all keep our cute dog photos to ourselves and stick to TxDoT "business." This comment unleashed a barrage of snarky, offended, and offending posts the likes of which I have never seen before, including these gems:

"That's what your delete key is for."

"Thanks for telling us what that key does-- I absolutely had no clue! SO sweet."


"Seems a little uptight to me."

These and other comments prompted a page-length faux apology from Dog Park Neighbor, who could not resist abusing her moment at the podium:

"It was my understanding that this e-mail correspondence was to discuss issues related to the DOT land that I have enjoyed and that is attached to my house. I’m finding that is referred to as “the dog park” (and it is not a dog park) and that this list has become a way to criticize each other and those using the land. 

"Someone last week actually called the rules of the DOT land 'draconian' and while I appreciate your exploration of vocabulary, I doubt having to leash Fido and getting a ticket for not leashing Fido on private property is draconian. Draco would have given you the death penalty after torturing you for a while so let’s not get dramatic."

You know that I love an etymology lesson. For those who care, Drakos was a seventh-century B.C. Athenian dictator who imposed ridiculously severe penalties for even trivial crimes. Dog Park Neighbor is correct. It is important to use words correctly. (Is DOT land really "attached" to her house? Hmm. I guess I shouldn't be so literal in my usage.) DPN went on to thank all the little people she does not know, including this blogger, who spent Saturday morning picking up mummified dog crap from DOT fields. It's nice to feel appreciated if unnamed. 

"I have not walked [my dog] out there for over 2 months because of the hassles involved (tickets, unruly dogs, piggish owners who don’t clean up) until last Sunday when I went around 3 times with a garbage bag and cleaned up poop. Thank you to the 2 other people who joined me; I think by the time we were done the trail looked great." 

Seems like enough said, right? Well, put on your Kevlar vests everyone. This comment is from another DP neighbor who bemoaned the decline and fall of Park from its halcyon age to its current state of ruin:

"When we first found the field, not a couple of hundred yards from our front door, we thought we'd found a little dog paradise, but it's turned into something slatternly.  Since Carolyn died, something has changed in the attitude of the park's denizens.  There is a self-absorption and an attitude of entitlement from a lot of the new people that has contributed to the decline of the space and so, regretfully, I have to wash my hands of it."

Slatternly! Oof! Augh! Pshawwt! Splutter!  For those who do not have a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary at your fingertips (oh, but you do if you have a library card number and access to the Austin Public Library Web site), I'll explain. Slattern is one of those peculiarly gender-specific insults, like harridan and shrew and whore. A slattern is an untidy, slovenly woman who also happens to be a slut. Excuse me? I am shocked to the core by this ugly little accusation from a man I've never met and certainly never seen at Dog "Park."  Please go wash your hands and your vocabulary, sir.

But I digress. Mr. Slatternly prompted this angry response. The first with sentiments written in all capital letters, which is REALLY BAD:

"Please stay out of the dog park. The stupidity of a person who takes
toys to the dog park and complains when other dogs plays with those
toys baffles me. You are probably the same idiot who brings food to
the dog park and then complains when other dogs give you lots of

Tetch. And not a word about being called slatternly. 

At least one more person responded, begging to be removed from the list because we were "ALL" out of control. You are right. I FEEL SO OUT OF CONTROL, especially after being called slatternly.


What is going on here? What has caused this unpenting of rage? Who are these people anyway? I'd like to note that Dog Park Neighbor who started all this by objecting to Richard's posting is neither a regular Parker nor a first time ranter on the listserv.  She recently hijacked discussion, steering it away from Richard's request for help in identifying the dog that bit Elinor to a call for poop pick up. (Richard, you are the new Archduke Ferdinand! Wars have started over you!) We never did find out who attacked Elinor, but I'm sure she rests easier at night knowing that her injuries led to a poop-scouring. 

So, have we learned anything, fellow Dog "Parkers"? Let's review:

1) Post cute photos on Diane's  (Frankie) Dog Park gallery. Address:
For info about passwords, e-mail me.

2) Don't call it a Dog Park. Call it a Dog "Park." Also, speak very quietly, in all lowercase letters.

3) Learn the difference between Reply and Reply All. If you must add your strand to the fur ball of discussion, hit the reply button and send your remarks directly to the person who has offended you, not to everyone, including easily distracted editors who are trying to concentrate on multiple-choice questions about the purpose of the Electoral College. Really, the Electoral College can't compete with Dog Park Flameouts, and you know it.

4) Keep your sunglasses near your computer for reading future, inflammatory listserv posts.

Ta. -z


  1. Ohh...I knew you couldn't resist writing about this!

    And invoking the sainted memory of Carolyn? Puh-leeze.Why does every dog park discussion always lead back to her.

    And to quote (in full) my very favorite email that regularly gets sent to all 250 people on the listserv, "I Agree."

    See you and all the other dog-breath scented slatterns at the park later?

  2. I agree.

    (how do I "reply to all" with that response?)

  3. Nice--I thought there might be some analysis here. One day maybe,(probably not) I'll learn to keep my thoughts to myself. (I threw the "uptight" bomb). But I had no earthly idea what I was stepping into...


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