Of Dog Owners and Parents

When I signed up for the Seattle P-Patch program a year ago, I thought the most appealing part of having a garden would be planting whatever vegetables I chose and watching them grow into plump, delectable produce for my consuming pleasure. Never did I imagine what joy I would derive from ripping up grass and other weeds. But needless to say, this is the best part of my garden. Screw the easy way of weeding, which consists of “Roto-tilling” the entire plot with an unwieldy machine from the pits of garden shed hell and then leaving the unearthed weeds to dry in the sun. No, this stressed college student prefers to plunk her ass down in the dirt and gleefully rip chunks of grass by the handfuls. And as I found out today, my dog apparently enjoys sitting next to me in the sun while airborne grains of dirt fleck her white fur.

So this is what part of my day was like. After months of having neglected my plot due to the dismal Seattle weather, daily demands of school work, and absolute laziness, I finally hauled myself, my dog, and my gardening gear up the road to my garden plot. The abandoned plot wasn’t completely alone as there were others here and there overtaken by grass, but mine was immediately identifiable by the twelve massive broccoli plants sporting bright yellow blooms. Overgrown broccoli is not a new sight to me, so I hunkered down into the dirt and settled in for a couple of hours work of weeding. And there I sat, happily ripping mounds of grass from the rich, soggy soil while the pleasant “spring” sun kept my back warm.

A savage soundtrack of dog fights and dog owners who believe in negotiating with their pets played over my blissful weed ripping. After an entire spring and summer of listening to the chaotic chorus of the dog run near my garden plot, I’ve learned to ignore most of the yips, yaps, howls and screams of dogs and their owners. However, my ears couldn’t block out one dog fight in particular. Vicious snarls from two large dogs echoed across the dog run, through the parking lot and over to my garden plot. The snarls continued to echo. And they continued some more. Finally, the voice of one of the owner’s could be heard over the violent dogs; “Penny! Now, Penny, you know that’s not good. Stop fighting with that other dog. Penny! Penny, if you don’t stop fighting with that other dog I swear I’m going to spray you with this hose here. Penny, don’t make me…”

I always thought it was horrible how some parents try to negotiate with their misbehaving children lest the child throws a temper tantrum and cries in public, but the ridiculousness of negotiating with a dog just goes to emphasize how ineffective this method is for children (who, hopefully, are much smarter than dogs).

The fight eventually ended with both owners dragging their dogs across the shit-encrusted dirt in opposite directions, both heading for their cars and hopefully out of the park and out of my life forever. Soon, Penny and her new friend left me alone with the mournful howl of a basset hound and a few abrasive yips of joy. Once again, peace enfolded my corner of the park as I adjusted my loose-fitting jeans lest the crack of my white moon should offend anyone wandering the gently curving woodchip pathways of the P-Patch.

Soon enough, a mother and her daughter appeared- no doubt church goers who decided to spend the wonderfully sunny afternoon wandering the park and playing at the playground. “Alison! Al-ee-son! Walking through gardens that don’t belong to you isn’t nice- you walk on the pathway.” I peered through my weeds and watched pensively as Alison continued to trample through gardens. “Alison, come over here! Look at this bug! Alison!” the mother cried frantically in a vain attempt at enticing the kid to step on the proper pathway. But Alison had no interest in a bug and so ran through a couple of more garden plots. She stopped at a plot across from mine a started stomping on my neighbor’s onions and lettuce. “Alison! Alison! Look at the bug I found over here!” the mother cried, running after her child. When she reached the scene of the crime, she yanked the child through some more onions and onto the woodchips. Then, she stared right at me and asked, “Do you have a problem?”

“Funny you should ask,” I replied, “I do.”

The mother glared icily at me, and I could tell she knew what I was thinking. I left it at that and went back to pulling my weeds and showering my dog with dirt, trying not to listen to the mother mutter about “how rude people are these days” as she dragged The Abominable Onion Stomper towards the playground.