Among The Dog Snobs, Fang is the only regular dog park user, and we respect her dedication to dealing with the idiocy within. (From Fang: It’s Private and I work for the owner. Everyone thinks I work there so I can flounce around with my dogs and do as I please without too much kerfuffle from the masses.) Despite not all being regular dog park users, we all do have some dog park experience and we have noticed some universal truths about the type of people that use Dog Parks. Inspired by this brilliant “Portlandia” bit we decided that it was high time we help classify the many other different types of people who frequent dog parks.
The Lothario: Every park has one–the guy, usually in his late 30s or early 40s, who has turned the dog park into his own personal dating pool. His M.O. involves sidling up to a woman (at least 10 years his junior), throwing out copious compliments (about the dog, of course), and then going in for the kill. His typical uniform includes too-tight-denim, a leather biker jacket (note: he does not in fact, ride a motorcycle), and sunglasses, even on a cloudy day. When not trolling the dog park for babes, The Lothario can be found in vintage record stores or chilling at the local coffee shop with the cutest (and youngest) baristas.
The Helicopter Parent: Not to be confused with ‘The Nervous Mother’, the Helicopter Parent is on their dog like a pageant mom is on ‘pretty feet’. The Helicopter Parent is usually a novice dog owner with a Type A personality who has read every book on dog raising ever written and they’ve applied all the advice they’ve ever gotten. You can recognize them by their specific park-wear (usually lycra with color-coordinated polar fleece).
The Nervous Mother: The nervous mother, although related to the helicopter parent, is less pushy than the helicopter parent, but a whole helluva lot more uptight. This person is generally a first time dog owner with limited dog experience and even less skill at reading dog body language. Easily identified by their constant outcries of “Ooh…is that ok? I can’t tell…are they playing?”, The Nervous Mother has ten-thousand questions and the memory of a garden slug. The amount of reassurance they require to make it through a twenty-minute outing is any capable person’s comfort-quota for a year. Thankfully, these parents are among the most metamorphic types and frequently grow out of their nervous status, particularly if they have young puppies. If not taken in hand early however, you risk them becoming ‘The Victim’.
The Victim: A distant cousin to the Nervous mother and the Helicopter parent, The Victim is among the most annoying of park-goers. The slightest noise by any four legged creature is a direct assault on their snookums. Think your dogs are playing a raucous game of fetch? Nope, it’s a blood hunt, and the prey is their pooch. Dog’s playing in the pond? Nope, it’s an attempted drowning. You will hear the victim’s favorite phrase “CONTROL YOUR DOG!” shouted at nearby patrons as their own dog frequently ignores any semblance of commands spewing from their down-turned unhappy mouth.
The Antisocial Chuck-It Owner: From the moment this person walks into the park, they make it perfectly clear that they are there to play fetch with their dog, and nothing else. They will actively shoo any dogs away that dare try to interact with their focused pooch. It gets really ugly if another dog takes the precious ball (cue Gollum, “my precioussssss”) away from their own dog. Antisocial Chuck-It Owners have been known to loudly announce that they didn’t come to the dog park to “play” and enforce a 20 feet safety bubble around them at all times.
The Lazy Observer: “Oh is that my dog pooping? Oh. Well that’s inconvenient.” The Lazy Observer is often sitting on a park bench as far away from their own dog as humanly possible, and can usually be found fiddling with their smart phone. When informed that their precious fluffy has pooped/started a fight/is being a pain in the ass, the Lazy Observer will momentarily raise their eyes from their smart-phone/tablet, scream, feebly call their dog (who almost always has a poor recall), and mutter some sort of apology while returning to their texting. Never expect the Lazy observer to pitch in. Poop right next to their chair? Indignant screeching will ensue if assistance is requested.
The Park Emperor: Taking their self-appointed role as Park Emperor very seriously, this person can usually be found dictating to the masses anything from poop shovel locations to whose dogs can socialize where. Thrones have been staked out so be wary of finding a place in their court without creating some unintended drama. Many within the park nobility also fall under the Lazy Observer heading purely because ruling over such a small fenced area is exhausting.
The Expert: The Expert knows it all, has done it all, and is going to tell you all about it. Have a Doberman? They bred Dobermans, who saved children from a wells, protected him their owners from all harm including identity theft, and could do advanced calculus. The Expert always has a story to out-story you and if those stories happen to resemble old episodes of Rin Tin Tin, it just adds to the experience.
The Advisor: Instantly recognizable by their passive-aggressive introduction of “If that were, my dog…”, The Advisor offers unsolicited advice at every turn. Although well-meaning, the advice is often inappropriate. The dog of The Advisor is often the worst behaved in the park, often causing mayhem while the owner is busy advising other park goers.
The Princess: Waltzing in wearing white linen capris and ballet flats, this person is woefully unprepared for the realities of a dog park. Not wanting to clash with her outfit, The Princess refuses to wear a bait-bag or other utilitarian dog tote, and chooses instead to stuff her treats into her Coach brand tote, not realizing that a) every dog in the park will soon be circling her like sharks to get to her treats, and b) her white linen pants are unlikely to stay white. The Princess refuses to sit on any of the park benches and is hesitant to interact with any of the other plebeian park goers. Don’t worry though, The Princess only makes an appearance at the dog park a few times per year.
The Trainer: Similar to The Advisor, but with “professional” qualifications to back them up. These trainers are most often employees of large pet chains. They are usually seen commanding other people’s dog’s to sit, as if their six week certification course makes them a God among Dogs. Dogs, even well trained ones, usually stare at them as if they have two heads.
Can you think of any we missed? Share your experiences in the comments!