And What’s Your Name
The queens and kings liked to speak through their dogs. Like this, “Grainly?! Grainly! Want some water, Grainly?!” They said this loudly, as to alert the other humans; I’m the mover and shaker inside these fences, and I’m turning on the hose, then soaking every single dog here.
They turned on the hose for many reasons, I’m sure, but I had a theory as to the main reason; to play out some sick hostage fantasy.
I had zero authority, Douglas wasn’t my dog. The queens and kings knew Douglas, he was famous for his fun-policing within their domain. They spoke through him, instead of directly to me. Like this, “hey Douglas!! Hey buddy! Who’s cute today?? We’re gonna turn on the hose… and whose this with you, buddy? Where’s your Mah-mah??” His momma being my human sister.
If it was someone’s first time in the park with a new pup, they did this, “hellllooooo!! Hellooo! And what’s YOUR name??” Not to the human.
My sister warned me, “these people are ridiculous.” She said, “I think some of them are very lonely, especially the queens and kings.” She told me, “they really opened up, they’ll tell you their whole life story if you engaged in their speaking through the dog method of breaking the ice.” But I had no interest in that.
I went to the park to read and tire Doug out. There were too many distractions inside to get any substantial amount of reading done. Doug being one of those distractions, even if I didn’t feel like wrestling toys from his tiny-faced grip, he wasn’t a fan of leisurely activities. All attention had to be directed towards Doug, at all times… unless at the park. He could go assume his position as fun-police amongst the other dogs, and I could read in peace while he ran amok.
Douglas would play, he wasn’t anti-play. But if a third dog tried to get in on the action, he would start losing his shit. The queens and kings would speak to him. Like this, “ohhhhh Douglas.” Or, if it was their bigger dog that Doug was yelling at, “get ‘em, Doug.” Because they knew Doug could not possibly ‘get em.’ Or, like this, “yep… that’s Douglas,” because they knew him so well. They knew all the inhabitants of their domain.
Also, queens and kings always had snacks in their pockets, the game was rigged in that way. But winning over a dog’s affection with food was cheap, and I stood there unimpressed when they got the dog’s attention in that way.
Eventually a queen or king would get the hose, it was usually a queen. Kings were more likely to pretend their dog wasn’t being overly aggressive when they obviously were. The two main queens battling for the throne were in their late 30s, they were both very loud. They loved speaking loudly to all the dogs. “I know more dog’s names than I do human’s names,” one of them said to me. I laughed uncomfortably- knowing she didn’t know my name- and said, “yea…” But what I was thinking was, ‘I know that, you make that extremely clear.’ I was also thinking, ‘please stop talking to me.’ I was also thinking, ‘please stop talking to the dogs in such a manner that makes it seem like you want me to respond.’ They would say, “Douglas LOVES the hose,” and my eyes would burn with hatred, but I had no clout. Plus I didn’t want to make things uncomfortable for Doug’s momma upon her return to the park, by telling the queens and kings that this was incredibly obnoxious behavior.
I was staying on my sister’s couch. When Douglas got wet, he would dry off using the couch. The queens and kings would break out the hose because it was hot, or so they said. They would laugh loudly as Douglas got soaked, and I would have to stay longer than I wanted so he could dry off. Once Doug dried off, they’d break out the hose again, because dry equaled hot. The hose hostagier would start loud conversations with all the dogs, laughing all the while. They would unconvincingly apologize once he was already soaked. Like this, “sorry, I think Douglas got a little wet, guess you’ll have to stay here forever. Good thing you brought a book that I can disrupt you from with my general loudness.”
It turned out I didn’t have to engage people in conversation to hear their life stories. People broke off into their cliques, but the queens and kings spoke loudly enough for the entire kingdom to hear about them and their ex coincidentally going to the same music festival. And how their ex said they should sell their ticket, because it would be awkward if they were both there. How insane their ex was. How it didn’t matter, it was a music festival, everyone was gonna be fucked anyway, what did it matter. The real queens and kings were at the park all day some days. They’d be there every time I took Doug out, cornering three separate people from their respective clique with that brand of story, three times across one day. Only to be disrupted by Doug policing two much larger dogs, then they’d laugh and say, “oh Doug, you’re CRAZY.” And I would have to keep re-reading the same sentence over and over.
The park was crowded one time, and I was with one of the queens in the side park for the smaller dogs. A fellow commoner with a small dog was in the main park with the behemoths, but the small dog was holding his own. The queen did not like this, she kept saying to my fellow commoner, over the fence, “maybe your dog would like to come over with the small dogs.” The peasant-girl would bravely defy her by saying, “no, that’s ok, he likes playing with big dogs.” But she didn’t become queen by taking no for an answer, she eventually strong armed the peasant-girl into joining us in the small park. After a few minutes of blissfully asking the new dog it’s name, not addressing the peasant-girl, and bribing the dog with treats; the new dog leapt up and bit the queen’s finger. The bite drew a small amount of blood, the queen was suddenly very concerned and serious. She gathered her things, scooped up her dog and exited the park without saying another word. I suppressed my laughter while pretending to read, the peasant-girl never apologized. She brought her dog back to the side with the behemoths, and Doug suddenly had the small park to himself. But what was the point of that. I closed the book and got Douglas’s harness back on as someone in the main park grabbed the hose. We walked the fifty yards back to my sister’s apartment.
The queen’s injury was magnificent, but it cut down on Doug’s play time. I had to figure out another way to tire him out. I didn’t have anything on the agenda aside from taking him to the park and reading a bit, now I had nothing but my boredom and his relentless energy.
I stared at the wall for a good while, then decided to take Doug for a long walk. Ten minutes into the walk, some dude on his bike slowed down alongside of us but never stopped, he proceeded to ask what kind of dog Doug was. I said I didn’t know, the small cute black kind with longish legs and a little head. He looked confused and continued to slowly roll away from us, talking about dog breeds he’d seen around the area until he was out of ear shot again.
On our way back to the apartment we passed back by the dog park, Doug pulled in the direction of the few fenced in dogs that remained, but I didn’t have my book and had given up on the hope of having a sane interaction for the day, so we went back upstairs. The walk had done the job and Doug laid down on the couch, I sprawled out next to him and stared at the wall some more. I looked over to the book but didn’t want to be bothered. I looked over to Doug and he was asleep. I considered making myself something to eat, but that would only get him stirred up again.
There was suddenly yelling coming from the park, Doug shot up and ran onto the window ledge. He barked in the direction of the park where I could see a scuffle amongst dogs and humans. A girl around my age seemed to be accusing one of the older king’s dogs of foul play. I wasn’t there but automatically took her side. The older king slowly failed at corralling his asshole dog, the girl successfully grabbed her dog and left the park. Doug barked in the direction of the park all the while; policing from a far. I liked to think his anger was directed at the king, but Douglas had no interest in justice and revolution. His loyalty lied with whoever sprayed him with the hose and had snacks in their pockets.
One morning I got to the park fairly early, or at least earlier then I’d been going there. It was empty, and at first I thought it would be a waste of time going in. I brought him in anyway, and it immediately became clear that this was actually ideal. I chose a shady seat away from the shit filled garbage cans, as Douglas preoccupied himself with the many different scents of the fake grass. I was on cloud 9 until a king came through the gates, walked across the park to stand next to where I was sitting. I was the only other person there and he decided I would be part of his clique now. He asked about my status as Doug’s temporary overseer, he asked about where I was from, he was dead set on having a conversation. I closed the book and wondered how long I would have to do this before it was ok to leave. I hoped one of his minions would show up, but it never happened. Doug and the king’s dog had a blast while biting each other’s assholes or however dog played. I was stuck under the rule of the king, forced to shoot the breeze and fake laugh at stories that I didn’t care about.
After twenty minutes or five years of chatter, a girl in my age range came through the gates with her dog. I hadn’t seen her before and hoped we could form our own clique, a clique that could extend to the city outside park fences. I was now ignoring the king, thinking of a strategy to get away from him and next to her. Within three seconds of her walking through the gate and me internally strategizing my next move, she waved to the king then started saying hi to Doug and the king’s dog. As she walked towards us she was already loudly recapping her morning to the king. Like this, “WOULDN’T YA BELIEVE IT I WAS HERE EARLIER AND NOBODY WAS HERE. SO I WENT OVER TO EASTERN MARKET TO GET SOME SHOPPING DONE, RUN SOME ERRANDS. FIGURED SOME OF DAISY’S FRIENDS WOULD BE HERE BY THE TIME I GOT BACK.” Her age and general attractiveness fooled me, I ceased my fantasy strategizing immediately and glanced at my book. She continued yell-talking as she got close to us, “YOU MUST BE DOUG’S UNCLE WHO I HEARD ABOUT, WATCHING OVER HIM FOR A LITTLE BIT, I HEARD.” I did a nod/shrug/fake smile combo and said, “that’s me, glad my sister warned everybody.” The 3 dogs ran around her as she pulled some treats out of her pocket, she continued, “YEA DOUG’S FAMOUS AROUND HERE… AREN’T YOU DOUG??” She asked Doug how much he liked the treats, and started walking towards the hose as the dogs followed. She yelled towards the dogs some more, like this, “YOU GUYS LOOKS HOT, GETTING HOT OUT HERE, HUH.” I opened the book back up and tried very hard to focus, as she laughed like a maniac at the sound of spraying water. The king said, “look at ‘em go.” I forgot he was even standing there, and didn’t look up as he spoke.