Friday, November 24, 2006

Heaven is a place on earth

Millwoods Park is about one quarter mile from our house. It is not a large area but somehow it contains, among other things: two walking trails, a swimming pool, a wildlife pond, woods, a skateboard park, tennis courts, a play area with swings and other equipment, a picnic area, and a basketball court.

It also has (at last count) four hundred and seventy five softball fields, and two thousand eight hundred and four soccer fields - actually not that many, it just seems like it.

And, its newest addition, a Dog Park.

At ten-thirty last Sunday morning the only action at Millwoods was outside at the canine recreation area and inside at the Methodist Church that sits alongside the front entrance to the park - worshippers of each of the only two English language words that can be formed from those three letters of the alphabet.

Even though we currently are houndless we went for a walk over to the pooch playground to take in some of the action. Not being churchgoers we would have been spectators at either place so we picked the one that offered entertainment, exercise and fresh air. It was our second time at the facility having wandered over for similar reasons the previous weekend.

The "park" consists of two adjacent fenced in areas (small and large dogs) with a double-gated transition area that covers about one acre of the tree dotted land between the wildlife pond and some of the softball diamonds. When we arrived there were about twenty canines of various sizes, all within the large dog enclosure, and three others on leashes outside alongside the fence.

By eavesdropping I concluded that the outcasts were either unlicensed or, if they were, failed to bring their permits along with them and thus were excluded by the establishment's rules and regulations from the much coveted doggy inner sanctum.

We did not attempt to enter inside the compound but I suspect we too would have been turned away - not having a member in good standing with us to escort us in. The church probably would have been less restrictive. Copies of Baptismal Certificates are most likely not required and even strangers traveling without a practicing Methodist on their leash would, I'm certain, be readily granted entrance.

It was quiet - but not silent like in a place of worship because the people were chatting quietly among themselves. The dogs however, although busily interacting and cavorting, were absolutely, totally noiseless. Mars observed that humans talk to each other when they get together but that canines only converse when they are at a distance - either to get each other's attention or to threaten. When they are in close proximity like this they really have no reason to verbalize their thoughts and their other communication methods take over.

So while the owners and caretakers stood around in a loosely formed circle sipping coffee and puffing cigarettes, those for whom the park was intended ran and sniffed and nipped and nuzzled - pairing off and separating, and then pairing up again with a different partner. They twisted their bodies around and about each other in a spontaneously choreographed ballet of unleashed energy and canine agility - partaking in all, yes all, of the pas de deux that two dogs together can perform. Then suddenly they would break away from their pack to check in briefly with those who brought them. And just as abruptly return to the action.

Meanwhile up the street and inside the red brick edifice the Methodists partook of their bread, sipped their grape juice, and sang their hymns of praise. And shared the incorporeal joy that is brought to them by their otherworldly beliefs.

But even they couldn't possibly be as happy as the dogs of Wethersfield romping and rollicking in their own private Garden of Eden - also free of all their earthly cares and yet at the same time fully immersed in the aromas of the world and the affinity of their recreational family. And unlike the only two residents of that short-lived biblical paradise - if they get expelled for some transgression it will be only temporary (as it should be).

For earthbound hounds, and their similarly tethered viewers, it just doesn't get any better than that.

(Editorial Cartoon by Dave Rustad, Dog Park photos by Mars)

No comments: