Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Nearly Busted by the Dog Police

Today at lunchtime a fellow self-employed friend and I went out for a walk with her dog—the Dork.* We meandered around the neighborhood for a while, finally ending up at a neighborhood park. My friend then let the Dork off his leash, so he could romp through mud and drink skanky greenish water from puddles. Even though the Dork was behaving dorkily, he was reasonably well behaved. He stayed pretty close to us and when he shook loose a few clinkers, my friend intervened immediately to seal them safely away in a plastic bag.

And then we saw it: a preternaturally white Multnomah County Animal Services stealth vehicle had glided silently up to the edge of the park. A guy with a clipboard got out, and my friend panicked. She raced over to the Dork and put his leash back on. “I’m gonna get busted! Let’s get out of here,” she stammered. Turns out that not only was the Dork off-leash during leash hours, my friend had lost his tag. She could be fined $150. Luckily, I kept a level head. I suggested that we turn around and walk fast toward one of the exit gates.

As we hauled ass out of there she whispered, “Is he coming?” I looked over my shoulder and saw the dog cop lumber back into his vehicle. Apparently, it would have been too much effort to walk 200 feet to bust us. Instead he drove 100 feet to an easier target—a mom with a toddler in one of those Tilt-a-Whirl-looking strollers and an off-leash Vizsla of the extra-frisky variety. The dog cop knew there was no way the mom was going to be able maneuver the kid and the stroller over to the rambunctious Vizsla in time to get a leash on it. Last I saw he was puffing out his chest and brandishing the clipboard at her. Nice. I’m always leery of people with clipboards: gym teachers, driver’s ed instructors, poll takers, and so forth. They always seem to think their clipboards give them more authority than they actually have.

So did I aid and abet a crime by suggesting to my friend that we high-tail it out of the park? She was in the wrong--no doubt about it. And she knew it, but $150 for not having your dog on a leash seems pretty steep. Plus, she is a very responsible dog owner. She didn’t let the Dork off the leash until we were far from the playground, so he wouldn’t inadvertently frighten small children. And she is a whiz with the poop bag, I’m telling you. Those bum brownies had barely hit the ground before she had them scooped up and out of harm's way. So, no, I don’t feel too guilty. Let Animal Services go after the folks who let their dogs loose and start yammering on their cell phones, paying no heed to whether the dogs are sideswiping pedestrians as they try to tree a squirrel or depositing ploppers in remote corners of the park that will at a later date end up on the bottom of some unsuspecting person's shoe.

*Not his real name. Since this dog is rather famous--well, his picture has appeared in the Portland Tribune (does that count?)--and he's in a spot of trouble, I thought it best to give him a false name. Since my friend is always saying, "He's such a dork," whenever the dog does anything borderline naughty, I think "the Dork" is as good a pseudonym as any.


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