One of the parks my daughter and I frequent is a "tot park" about which I have written before. It's a small gated playground with a rubberized surface under everything, a sand pit where my daughter loves to snack, and a lot of lovely moms and a few snarky ones.
The thing I have never mentioned about this park is the Dog Lady.
Every day at around 4 pm, Dog Lady screeches up to the park in her tricked out golf cart, accompanied by her high-pitched yalping whippit-lab mix whom I will refer to as "Katie." The Dog Lady then enters the tot park with her dog, frequented by the 5-and-under set, and hollers "WHO WANTS KATIE KISSES?!"
I wish I was making this up.
There are a few things that disturb me about Dog Lady. First off, the tot park has a sign that clearly forbids pets from the park. More importantly, the Dog Lady DOES NOT have control of her dog. This dog is obviously very high energy, and is constantly struggling on the end of the leash and jumping up on grown-ups and kids alike (I have seen this dog knock over more than one kid who ventures in for "kisses"). The routine is that Dog Lady brings Katie in for a visit, brings her around to everyone asking if they'd like "Katie Kisses" and some accept and some don't, the dog licks and knocks over a few kids. The Dog Lady – who very clearly has never had children – then tells everyone who will listen how intelligent her dog is and how really it's like having a gifted child. Then the Dog Lady lets the dog off the leash in the cul-de-sac adjacent to the playground and plays fetch with it. I have watched on numerous occasions as this lady screams and hollers at her dog to "COME HERE!" as the dog races up someone's driveway and into someone's back yard. The Dog Lady is in her sixties and does not seem to be in very good shape (my goodness she drives a golf cart from wherever she lives in the neighborhood to the park).
She has also tried on numerous occasions in my presence to let her dog off the leash in the enclosure where the kids play. The first time she did it I promptly walked over to her and told her that her dog needed to be on a leash. She insisted "No! She's ok! She won't hurt kids! She loves kids!" I, on the other hand, who had a 13-month-old who had barely started walking and was still unsteady on her feet replied that she needed to put her dog on her leash RIGHTNOW. And then I gave her the look my mom used to give me when I asked her if I could have a drink of my dad's beer.
She put the leash on the dog and took it out of playground area.
The next time she actually asked if it would be ok if she took the dog off the leash inside the playground area. I politely replied that I'd rather that she didn't while three other moms just stared back blankly. Well you would have thought I'd assisted in the capture of a dangerous criminal the way the other mothers complimented me and mooned over how direct I'd been without being mean. I then explained to them that I had two annoying dogs at home and if I wanted my kid to get knocked over by a dog I'd just take her there. They nodded in agreement. I also told them a story about a friend who knew a family whose daughter had been mauled to death by another family's dog while the mothers watched in horror. They gasped and clutched their throats.
What I do not understand is why I seem to be the only one willing to stand up to Dog Lady. While other mothers just roll their eyes and let her parade her dog through the playground, some of them even reluctantly bring their children (who know and love the dog of course) over to her for kisses and to get jumped on, I refuse to go anywhere near her. I don't want my child to learn that it's ok to go up to a lady with a dog just because The Dog Lady demands that she do so and I certainly don't want to enable this ridiculous behavior. Why am I alone? Why hasn't someone else told her that she and her dog can take a hike? And point out that the sign clearly says NO PETS? Because now? The Dog Lady has a friend with a golden retriever and bicycle. Who just strolled through the park with her dog off leash the other day like it was NO BIGGIE. God help those people because I AM ON THEIR CASE.
I would not be telling you any of this if the Dog Lady had not come to the playground the other day with two broken fingers. And when someone asked her what happened? She just shrugged and said THE DOG HAD DONE IT TO HER. And she's going to need surgery. LIKE IT WAS NO BIG DEAL.
You have got to be kidding me.