Don’t think less of me when I say this, but until I moved to Seattle, I didn’t understand why people take their children to Disney World. (Disney World is in Florida, I know, just keep going.) It seems awfully expensive to take small children to a crowded theme park where they will more likely than not be traumatized by a giant walking, talking mouse or not remember the trip at all and you as a parent will more likely than not have a fairly miserable week of sun and heat and child’s play. Or at least that’s kind of what the whole ordeal sounds like to me.
But then, I discovered dog parks. (Seriously, just keep going and don’t ask questions. It will make sense, I swear). In Joplin we had no need for dog parks, because the vast majority of people have back yards for their dogs to roam and play and fetch. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Seattle, even though there are more dogs here than children. Without a backyard, everyone just takes their dog to the dog park.
To those who don’t have a dog, or have a yard and thus a dog park in their own backyard, taking your dog to the dog park must sound like a pretty miserable experience. You have to load up your dog, drive (or walk) it to the park, clean up its poo, and pretty much just do nothing until you or your dog have decided they’ve had enough.
Despite the fact that there is very little in it for me, other than wearing Layla out so she isn’t a pest at home, I really enjoy going to the dog park simply because I know that she enjoys going to the dog park. She can get a little mopey at home, and if you know Layla at all, she has the perfect droopy face for exceptional Eeyoreing. But at the dog park, she loves to sniff and walk and sniff and chase other dogs (from a safe distance, that is) and did I mention sniff? She will come back to me after running around the park, with drool hangers clinging to both sides of her jowls, tongue dangling so far out of her mouth I fear she will trip on, with a look of sheer delight and devotion on her face, as if I was the best person in the entire world for having brought her to this place. And at that moment, the smelliness and picking up of poo and extra effort is all worth it.
I call this phenomena the Disney World Principle. I suddenly understand why parents take their kids to Disney World. If I love to see my dog happy, how much more would I and do parents love seeing their children’s joy and experience the fun of Disney World. It’s thoughts like these that make me think that maybe I won’t be such a bad parent, after all.
Until…. your dog sneaks out the back gate of the dog park and you have to jump the fence in a skirt and chase them down in woods next to a construction site. I think in this analogy, Layla getting out of the dog park would be the equivalent of a child’s end of the day, overstimulated, too much sun, nuclear meltdown. When that happens, I don’t think I should do to the child what I did to my dog.
We really should wait to have children…