No doubt you’ve heard it said there are certain subjects you should definitely avoid in polite conversation, in order to keep from causing an argument. One of these is politics. Another is religion. And a third, judging by a story recently sent to me by a concerned reader, is dogs in parks.Now, if you live in a fairly rural area, like I do, this may surprise you, but there are parks where dogs are not allowed, or if they are, they have to be on leashes all the time. You may think a park would be a place where dogs should be allowed to roam and play freely, and no one would mind. Please try not to be such a gooberhead.The presence of dogs in parks is evidently a major issue, especially in heavily populated areas, such as America. I never realized how heated this topic could be, until I read this article about Rancho Corral de Tierra, which is near San Francisco, in the land of the nutcakes.Rancho Corral de Tierra is a 4,000 acre area south of San Francisco which was recently purchased by the Peninsula Open Space Trust, which buys open spaces, or something. The name, Rancho Corral de Tierra, is evidently a foreign name that means Dirt Pen Ranch, or some such.This area has been public property for a long time, and has been frequented by local residents, who like to walk their dogs there, and let them run around loose, which is probably not allowed just anywhere in SF. But when the open space cadets bought it, they talked the Park Service into adding it to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. So then there were rules, suddenly, that weren’t there before. One of those rules is a leash law for dogs. Bummer.Or, on the other hand, not so bad. The loose dogs, according to some folks, have been causing problems all along, and, By George, it’s about time those dog people were put in their place. And what’s wrong with a leash law, anyway? Huh?So you can see that this created problems. But the opposing forces were pretty much getting along, until Park Ranger Patty stepped in.When the park service took over, Rangers started patrolling the area, Enforcing the Rules that weren’t there before. Park Ranger Patty confronted a local man who was letting his dog run around unimpeded, leashwise, and the exchange apparently did not go well. The man claimed to have no identification, and gave Patty a false name. When she tried to confirm his identity over her radio, the man started to walk away.At this point, you’re thinking things are not really out of hand. But then Patty threatened the man with her taser gun. The man said he had a heart condition, and asked her not to shock him. Then he turned around and started walking away again.Well. Patty couldn’t put up with that kind of blatant disregard for The Law. If you allow people to get off scot free for such a major crime as walking a dog with no leash, the next step is anarchy. Patty had no choice but to zap this bozo, but good. So she did.I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “She could have followed him to his car and taken his license plate number. Or called the local police to meet her and find out who the guy was. Or something else, anything else, short of electrocution.” This kind of thinking just shows how far we’ve fallen, as a nation, if you expect a Park Ranger to think. Really.This incident has, of course, caused a huge uproar, involving a lot of Concerned Citizens to roar upwards. It seems there have been many dog/leash/poop issues that have been festering in that area for quite some time, and they have all erupted now, into one big, snarling dogfight. If you put any three locals together, you’ll have five opinions about what to do to solve the problem.But if you think I’m going to step in that mess, you’ve got a lot to learn about the extent of my desire to avoid angry people. Besides, the issue, I think, is not whether dogs should or should not be kept on leashes in California. The issue is whether the heart guy should have bowed to Patty’s authority, and what she should have done when he didn’t.After studying the situation for several hours during my afternoon nap, and studying California and Park Service law (what I could find of it with an internet search for ‘studded dog collar’), I have concluded that Park Ranger Patty should be found guilty of being an idiot, and required to clean up dogpiles in Rancho Corral de Tierra for not less than seventeen years.Also, the heart guy should be found guilty of ignoring The Rules, and should not be allowed in the park without a leash, around his neck, ever again. Also he should get to zap Patty with her taser once a week for a month.Most of all I find California guilty. Of everything . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who always uses a leash when he takes his dog out, but it’s invisible. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org