Dietrich’s big day

Today the husband and I finally took Dietrich to a dog park. In the old days we went to the dog park close to our house all the time, but these are the new days and we haven’t been since we moved. You might say, “A dog park? That sounds like a really yuppie thing to do.” Newsflash: We’re yuppies.

Dietrich is a pretty chilled out dog. Even if he’s about to piddle with excitement at the words “bark park,” he won’t let on. Instead, he lays down on the ground and pretends to sleep, as if it’s no big deal, doesn’t really care if he goes or not.

Then we get in the car. And the true emotion takes over.

The bark park! I! Can’t! Wait!

A few seconds later his jowls created drag sufficient to whip his head backwards against the door frame and he came back inside for the duration of the drive.

When we pulled up to the dog park (hooray, GPS!), the husband and I had a quick moment of minor panic.

The husband: Umm. Is it a small-dogs-only dog park?
Me: I don’t know. Did it say anything on the Alexandria site?
The husband: Not that I noticed.
Me: Well let’s just read the signs before we go in. It is a rather minute crowd, now that you mention it.
The husband: HA! I bet I know why. All these people live in apartments. These are apartment-sized dogs.

And so they were. Though not a dog park designed or intended only for small dogs, the one-handers there outnumbered the big dogs 3:1, easily. Dietrich, who is too slow to keep up with the fast dogs, too tall to play with the small dogs, and too little to play with the king size dogs, usually bounds merrily between the packs before whoring himself out to any owner with two hands free to pet him.

We spent a great hour at the bark park before packing up to stroll the streets of Old Town Alexandria for the rest of the afternoon. Dietrich is a great guy for minding his own business and he’s easy to walk through crowds, though he tends to attract the attention of children and single young women.

Meandering down King Street as we were, a young mom with a two-child stroller stopped us and asked if her little girl could pet our dog. Absolutely, we said, and made Dietrich sit down in front of the stroller so the adorable little tyke could pet him. The mom had asked another woman a few blocks back if the little girl could pet her dog and was told no. The little girl cried. As the mom recounted the story, she mentioned that it’s good for her little girl to learn that she can’t always have what she wants (I think I love this woman), but that since the little girl pretends at home that she’s a puppy, having the chance to pet one makes her day.

Hopping out of her stroller cost her some of her confidence, but when I showed the little girl that Dietrich’s tail is like a paint brush and we painted her nails with it, she decided she had found the less intimidating end of him and wouldn’t let go. She painted her nails, her shoes, her face and her stuffed animal before deciding to wag Dietrich’s tail for him. With both hands.

Dietrich was a champ. Although we have complete confidence in his temperament around small people, having strange kids poke his eyes and wag his tail is reassurance to us that he’ll be a great big brother someday.

Soon we were joined by the little girl’s grandfather, visiting from Albania. He took pictures of her hovering over Dietrich and then pictures of her holding his tail in the air. As we said goodbye and I called the dog’s name, the grandpa asked if the husband and I were German.

Me: Oh, way back in our families we both are.
Friendly grandfather: So you do not speak any of the German?
Me: No, we don’t speak any.
Friendly grandfather: Are you sure?
Me: Yes, I’m sure. Are you from Germany originally?
Friendly grandfather: No, always from Albania.
Me: Well it’s very nice to meet you.
Friendly grandfather: And you. Auf Wiedersehen, Dietrich.

The young family just moved to the DC area from Ohio, so we chatted about weather and being new. The young mom has a brother-in-law living in our old hometown, of all places. As we went on our ways, she said she hopes they will run into us again sometime, and I said likewise. Considering that the husband and I saw the same dog in a ridiculous monkey sweater three times on our walk, I say it’s a definite possibility.

Before it got dark, we were on our way home. Before we got home, Dietrich was on his way out.

Hey, it’s a big head to haul around all day.

We’ll just chat with him tomorrow.

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