After three consecutive wet days, today’s weather is dry, even sunny … sunny enough to go outside for a walk. Suddenly Boomer looks at me, as if to say, did I hear you right? I must have been talking aloud to myself while peaking through the curtains.
“Walk. Want to go for a walk?”
He rises up, inches forward cautiously. We’ve been cooped up inside for a few wet and dreary days, so the whimpers are audible. Before long, we make our great escape to the world outside, heads held high, noses going to work. Well, one nose.
We move through the neighborhood, more than likely heading for one of the many destinations that make up Boomer’s Parks and Recreation system.
Welcome to Boomer’s Parks and Rec.
Boomer’s Parks and Rec. is a vast and sprawling system that’s somewhat tangled and quite complex. I’m guessing my dog and I are the only ones who fully understand it, but I have no idea what he’s saying in all that peemail he’s constantly sending out and sniffing around for.
It all started with our first park, which I simply called … park … as in, now that I’ve adopted you, my dear, sweet, six-month-old golden mutt, it’s time to take you to the park.
“Park! We going [sic] to the park. Yeah! [High voice.] The park! We going to the park!”
From the moment I adopted Boomer, I set out to be an overachieving owner/pet guardian/parent.
“Wanna go to the park?” I asked him, making sure he associated the excited tone of my voice with going somewhere good (say, the park), as opposed to somewhere bad (say, the vet).
“Yeah! [High voice.] We going to the park! The park! Wanna go to the park? Yeah! [High voice.] The park! Park!”
I repeated myself from the house to the garage to the car to the approach to the park. Then, once parked at the park, I explained: “The park! Park! Yeah! [High voice.] We at [sic] the park. The park!”
Like most dogs, Boomer loved it — the trails, the smells, the critters lurking in the woods beyond. And he loved it each and every time we went to the park, each trip prefaced with me asking:
“Wanna go to the park? Yeah! [High voice.] The park! We going to the park!”
It was easy because that was the only park we ever went to, more or less. So when I said, “we going to the park,” I was being a man of my word, and Boo knew exactly what and where I meant. The Park.
That is, until we move thousands of miles away from The Park. In fact, in our early years together, we moved a few times, sometimes nowhere near a park.
That’s when we went other to places for recreation, and Boomer got to know their names the same way he learned about The Park.
“Wanna go to Dog Beach? Yeah! [High voice.] We going to Dog Beach!”
Dog Beach is in San Diego, a city that’s nothing if not a recreation haven for both humans and dogs.
“Wanna go to Balboa? Yeah! [High voice.] Wanna go to Coronado?”
“Wanna go to Fiesta Island? Yeah! [High voice.] We going to Fiesta Island!”
That’s where Boomer would roam the rugged landscape off leash until he decided to swim out into Mission Bay to chase after ducks in the water. Far, far away he would dog paddle, making Daddy very worried about the boats in the not-to-distant distance.
Boomer knew and loved all the dog-friendly recreational spaces of San Diego, but alas, we moved again and had to create a whole other branch of our park system.
Our new neighborhood had a park, so it simply became Other Park, as in, “wanna go to Other Park? Yeah! [High voice.] We going to Other Park!”
For a while, Other Park was our main destination, but as time went on, our park system became more and more elaborate.
There’s Race Park (annually occupied by Long Beach Grand Prix grandstands), New Park, Other New Park and the beach, as in, “wanna go to the beach?” (where dogs aren’t allowed, unless you’re a local who knows when and when not to go).
“Wanna go to the beach for a night walk? Yeah! [High voice.] We going on a night walk! Night walk!”
Did I mention: Boomer’s Parks and Rec. has a variety of activities, all of which have names as well?