Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The man in the uniform

Yesterday I took Garrison to the park to have some awesome play time - one of our favorite things to do together. Last week I was fortunate to have a couple days of work from my former employer and it cut into our park time greatly, but I figured Garrison would appreciate me buying him dog food in the long run. At least I hope so... even though his puppy antics and ball bouncing in the house made it seem like the end of the world was upon him day after day.

One day last week I had some "down" time around lunch so I took Garrison to the park for a short play stint. As I stood in the grass throwing his beloved ball over and over, I could feel myself relaxing and enjoying the moment. For the last several years I have thought that this park time was necessary for Garrison to burn off energy, play, burn off more energy, practice herding skills, burn off even more energy, listen to me and then sleep later in the day and not chew my shoes.

The shoe chewing was a nervous puppy behavior and Mr. Chew Chew Shoe lost that nickname around December of 2008. He was actually caught in the act by a friend who gently told him, "No, Garrison. We don't chew shoes." I was told that he looked up at her with a quizzical expression, but since that day no shoe has lost its demise due to Garrison chompings. But I digress. Back to the park and ball playing.

Last week while I was enjoying this relaxing ball-throwing and happy puppy time at the park, I noticed some "workers" watching Garrison. I'm used to him getting lots of attention and stares and I admit that it's quite impressive and an amazing sight to see this large hairy dog fly across the field, stop the ball, and run back to a shady spot to sit before bringing me the ball again and hitting his own personal "repeat" button. So I didn't think much of it last week.

Yesterday we went during our normal morning time. No children were playing on the play structures. No other people were in the park. No one was playing tennis. The park was there for the Gman (or so he likes to believe every single day). The same man who walk/jogs with weights several times a week shuffled by. A car drove by and slowed down to stare at Garrison. And then I noticed a person in a blue shirt with badges sewn on standing by the fence over my left shoulder. They were on the outer side of the fence and just stood there. Then I noticed another man walk up. I wasn't sure who they were or what they were doing at the park... especially since they were in "uniform" and just watching Garrison.

Now then... I'm used to city workers at the park regularly. There is a Water Utilities building and a port-o-potty that gets quite a lot of use from them. I'm sad to say that I am aware of these things... but I keep my eyes open and observe things even if it looks like I'm not. Awareness is our best defense in life.

And I was aware of these men at the park staring at Garrison.

I was also aware of the precise moment when one of them decided to start walking over to us. I called Garrison over and he was solidly focused on his ball which I held in my hand... with his leash in my other hand.

"Excuse me... but I can't help but stare at your dog. I saw him last week and was so impressed. May I take his picture? My daughter loves dogs and she would not believe this."

"Oh sure."

Garrison stood still for the picture, but wanted his ball to be thrown again.

"Wow... he really likes having his picture taken, doesn't he?" (The man has no idea that Garrison has his picture taken on average once a day.)

And then the normal conversation took place.

What kind of dog is he? How much does he weigh? What is the breed name again? Where are they from? What were they bred to do? Are they good with kids? Who does his grooming? Does it require a lot of grooming? Do you really do it yourself? Wow he's so fast. May I pet him?

The man was from the Department of Water Utilities. He has a German Shepherd/Husky mix. The dog sheds. A lot. His daughter loves dogs. He was so excited to see us there today because he was intrigued with him last week. What an impressive dog. I agree.

Oh... and the Dept of Water Utilities is different than the Department of Water and Power. And I am thankful that Garrison is a very well behaved dog used to the "pup-a-razzi".

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