Walking Dogs, Old Men and Angry Women
If you were to look through my posts for the last year and a half … and then take a peek at my avatar … you’d probably say that I post about dogs an awful lot for a cat-lover. The explanation, of course, is the amount of time I spend in Yorba Linda Regional Park, perhaps the dog-walking capital of North Orange County. Maybe if people walked their cats … but then they wouldn’t be cats, would they? At any rate, as a cat person, I find dog-walking behavior interesting.
After years of observation, I’d divide the dog-walking populace into four categories. The True Dog Lovers are there for their dogs … if Woofie wants to sniff (which he frequently does), relieve himself at the foot of a tree (ditto) or just stop to watch the ducks for a minute, they wait patiently until he’s ready to move on. True Dog Lovers could be cat owners … they don’t feel compelled to control their pet. I’d bet a lot of them have a Kitty at home. The second group are the Social Dog Walkers. For Social Dog Walkers, Woofie is just a means to the end of striking up a conversation with another dog owner. The prey of the Social Dog Walker is the unsuspecting True Dog Lover and once they latch onto one, they may tag along for miles, chattering away. Little Woofie may not be the center of the Social Dog Walker’s universe but at least he gets to meet lots of other dogs, which my canine loving friends tell me is important for his well-being. The next group are the Exercise Walkers who break stride for no man or dog which saves them from the Social Dog Walkers. If Woofie is lucky, he’ll be on an extendable leash which gives him some slack for an occasionally stop, but if his slack runs out before he’s through, he’ll be pulled along mid-stream. These people may love their Woofie at home, but at the park he’s along for the ride.
It’s the final group, the Disciplinarians, that I understand least but then again, being a Disciplinarian with a cat will only get you hissed at or worse. Disciplinarians insist on perfect dog-walking etiquette from Woofie, which means, Heel when I walk and sit when I stop. I’ve been around enough dogs to appreciate a well-trained pup that doesn’t bark or growl or hump my leg. But the whole synchronized walking bit seems somewhat militaristic. At the gentlest end of the Disciplinarian scale are the dog-talkers who reason with Woofie, usually holding his snout so he’ll pay attention as they explain his shortcomings. And at the other end of the scale are the true Dog Nazis who reward Woofie’s trangressions with a violent yank on the leash, often lifting him off the ground. There’s a tale of an ultimate Dog Nazi in one of my earlier posts, here. These people shouldn’t be allowed to have pets.
So, here’s what I’ve observed: although True Dog Lovers and Exercise Walkers are equally likely to be men or women, Social Walkers are most often older men and Dog Nazis are mostly angry-looking women. Here’s my theory why. Since women usually outlive their husbands, they reach old age anticipating being alone. They also frequently have friends. When an older man loses his wife, he’s likely to be in a situation he never anticipated and retired from the friend-making business. Woofie is an easy way to find people to talk to and maybe even to find a friend, hence they become Social Dog Walkers. And I think that in spite of the progress women have made in our society, there are still more women than men that don’t feel in control of their lives. The most frustrated become Dog Nazis and unfortunate Woofie is a surrogate for everything else in their lives they can’t control.
I suppose I could be wrong. The dog-walking population of Yorba Linda Regional Park could be an aberration and my amateur sociology could be flawed. What do you think?