The moment when the student becomes the teacher

Dogs and owners at off-leash dog parkI write my blog for many reasons, but most importantly to stay connected with people close to me. Sometimes I surprise myself with my soul-sharing missives. “Who is this person?” I ask myself after I share something especially heartfelt. I felt that way after posting on Monday, and then realized that no one received it due to a software malfunction. I was not thankful for that.

If you want to read about my innermost feelings, check out Monday’s post here, since I’m skipping the raw emotion today. Don’t expect any deep insights or life lessons either; today I hope to make you laugh. This story is simply about being at the right place at the right time.

You know I’ve been seeking volunteer opportunities of late, with 50% success so far. I learned yesterday that Jelly’s PALS behavioural assessment will unexpectedly be on Sunday. I envision complete humiliation. But if we fail, I have no plans to become an off-leash ambassador.

Off-leash ambassadors are completely unqualified park goers sporting spiffy volunteer vests (I could get another vest) who are granted the informal authority to remind dog owners of the park rules. The ambassadors alert owners to serious infractions, such as not picking up after their dogs. Our park’s Mr. Power Hungry has fostered poor relationships with pet owners thus far because of his propensity for patronizing.

Mr. P.H. and I hadn’t had any run ins, but I figured it was only a matter of time. I anticipated scorn if Jelly didn’t come immediately when called (that’s 90% of the time, except when she forgets she’s a bad dog), or was caught eating sticks rather than leaving them for the other dogs to play with, or went a little boy crazy over an unneutered male (dog, that is).

Imagine my surprise earlier this week when Mr. P.H. was glued to his phone as his dog started pooping, and pooping, and pooping. This dog is ginormous, and we’ve addressed previously the close correlation between dog size and poop size. That stinky deposit was massive. I lack Mr. P.H.’s vested authority to address concerns at the dog park, yet I knew if he failed to pick up after his dog, someone else would have to at some point.

Since Mr. P.H. had not noticed his dog’s washroom break, I called to him: “Your dog!” Those two words are universal dog-park language for “Your dog is pooping and you need to get over there and pick it up before someone steps in it or a dog cleans it up for you.” Mr. P.H. looked up from his phone, realized I was addressing him, and scurried over, tail between his legs, to scoop the poop. And just like that, the balance of power shifted.

I felt a bit bad for shaming Mr. P.H. publicly but someone had to do it. If I’m honest, I took an unseemly pleasure in the task, after which I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I’m no longer worried about Mr. P.H.’s calling Jelly out for her misbehaviour at the park, since I can’t envision him picking any fights with me.

Maybe I should reconsider becoming an ambassador after all. I sure fostered compliance that day. Nah, someone else can alienate all their park friends.

Sign at dog park: The poo fairy doesn't live here. Scoop your poop.

 

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