The SheWhisperer

We seem to have skipped Fall altogether here in Los Angeles and gone straight to winter. We even had our first rain on Wednesday. It was real rain too. Not just a drizzly morning. Or the sprinkles that makes Angelenos panic, “Isn’t this weather awful?!”

It was real rain. Cold rain. I actually had to stop at home to grab my North Face Jacket and switch out my trailrunners for my rubber boots I bought last year at Payless.

My original plan this morning was to hike since I had some very high energy dogs on the slate. With the cold air and rains I feel very confident about returning to the trails after a summer of staying away because of the rattlesnakes.

But today was one of those days…

We had a water shed of last minute add-ons and a few of them were little ones, under 10 pounds who aren’t that confident on the hikes. I had already done a mini hike  in Nichols Canyon, so later on I opted for the security of the small dog park at Barrington Park.  My husband Adrian took Nacho, a Golden Retriever and Stella, a Cattle Dog Mix for a run around the golf course on San Vicente. This would be phase one of their play group.

It was late morning so as expected the small park was empty. We had it all to ourselves. Paradise when you are a dog walker.  I was a little bored since I am accustomed to more activity. I busied myself picking up every piece of poop I could find – fresh and fossilized.

High noon rolled around and with it came the SheWhisperer – in her red Subaru. I have never seen her before. I was impressed with her timing. She was lucky enough to get the first space right smack in front of the gates. Quite an achievement.  I was preoccupied chatting with my friend Chris, who was on his way out so I wasn’t paying much attention to all the SheWhisperer was up to until she addressed me very directly.

“I have an unneutered, unsocialized dog. Will any of your dogs do anything to him?”

I looked over at Kennedy, the 5lb terrier mix with the bald spot on his bum. His brother Berkeley, the Min Pin Jack Mix. Both of them in their new harnesses. Then there was Charlotte, the 4 lb Yorkie in her rainbow sweater. She was digging away in the clover with my sweet dog, Ruby. And then of course there was my hand shy, 7lb foster dog Maggie.

I was pretty certain this crew was not going to start throwing punches. Even Lucas my trouble making wire coat Jack Russell was preoccupied. I thought her unneutered, unsocialized Doodle had pretty good odds of not ending up on the ropes.

But, anyone who knows dogs, knows what happens when you mix an unneutered male in with the neutered.  At best there is lots of sniffing and mounting of the unneutered male. At worst, there is some growling and often times fights can break out.

Still, I just couldn’t see little Charlotte wanting to get her sweater dirty.

I measured my words carefully and did not offer the iron clad guarantee she was looking for. Mostly because I didn’t know what her dog was like. The SheWhisperer’s body language was so confrontational it made me nervous about her Doodle.  Still, I tried to sound neighborly. Amiable even.

“I think it’ll be ok…”

I guess I should have said it with more conviction because my submissive stance brought out the SheWhisperer’s aggressive tendencies.

“Will they or won’t they?” She growled. “Don’t you know your dogs?”

Again, the seed of doubt in my head was about her and her dog. She was so pent up, I couldn’t imagine what the dog would be like.

I decided to offer  some friendly suggestions which should have been obvious to her seeing she was a trainer and all.

“Why don’t you bring the dog in on a long drag lead, keep an eye on him –” Before I could finish, the SheWhisperer was foaming at the mouth.

“How much longer are you going to be in there?”

Suddenly, I heard the music cue from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.”

I knew I would be there until my husband finished running Nacho and Stella. I tried doing some quick math. I’m terrible at Algebra so I guessed.

“About 45 minutes.”

“Another 45 minutes?’

I nodded, trying not to show fear. “Yup.”

This was clearly not going to work for the SheWhisperer. She ordered me out of the park so that she could bring in her unneutered, unsocialized dog.

I actually felt bad for the Doodle. Poor kid. What’s a Doodle gotta do to get some play time around here?

I opted for the Stand My Ground Law. There was no way I was being ordered out of the dog park by the SheWhisperer. I didn’t care how big the advertising banner on her low emission car was.

I gotta give it to her. The SheWhisperer definitely took me by surprise when she pulled out her iPhone and said she was calling 911 on me. Even worse, she started videoing me and took several pictures. I happen to be having a particularly bad hair day so I was more than a bit dismayed. My roots are growing in plus I was having a bad case of the greasies since it rained yesterday and I didn’t wash my hair thinking I was going running this morning.  The run didn’t happen.

Anyway, Yes, the SheWhisperer really called 911 on me. For having too many dogs, for having a French Bulldog (who technically wasn’t in my care) without a collar or tags.  Mostly I suspect, she was calling 911 on me for not rolling over for her and for disobeying her.

Bad. Bad me.

Truthfully I was rattled. The SheWhisperer was coming unhinged right before my very eyes. When the 911 operator answered, the SheWhisperer said, “This is not an emergency, but it is. Some small dogs have been abandoned at the Barrington dog park.”

I looked around at all my dogs playing. Digging holes. Lounging. Wha? Nobody here’s been abandoned.

I felt terrible for her dogs, most of them Doodles (coincidence?) still sitting in her car.  I especially felt badly for the poor brown and white Doodle she had on leash. He looked like he had seen it all before.

I zipped up the half zip on the royal blue Patagonia long underwear shirt I was wearing. Then I nonchalantly  strolled over to the fence where I could see into the large dog park. I yelled to my friend Annie and got her attention. Then I gave her the universal sign for “Hurry your Ass Up and get over here.”

She made haste through the wood chips and fortunately for all of us, brought with her our friend Jessica. Jessica is one of the first people I met at the park almost 13 years ago. She had two Italian Greyhounds then and has two new ones now. I always thought she was a bad ass and then when I learned she was  a retired LAPD officer it all made sense.

Jessica = Alpha Dog +Mama Dog + Big Dawg.

From behind the tree, which I used as cover from the death stare of the SheWhisperer, I briefed Annie and Jessica on the crisis.  Ever at the ready, the SheWhisperer started videoing Jess and Annie. Jessica wasn’t even the least bit miffed by this. In fact, she got in front of the SheWhisperer’s camera and hijacked the webcast.

Jessica identified herself as retired LAPD and outlined what was going on. She sounded like a Lieutenant at a press briefing. She also reprimanded the SheWhisperer for abusing the  911 emergency line.

Having a fearless female police officer, (retired or not) at the park, put kind of a damper on the SheWhisperer’s hostage situation. But once again, credit goes to the SheWhisperer for refusing to show how intimidated she was. She stood strong but I could have sworn I saw her tail curl itself up between her legs.

And by the way, suddenly, the Doodle was neutered. How’d that happen? First he wasn’t, but now that Jessica was in the picture, he was. In any case, Charlie the cockapoo puppy struck  up a mean game of chase with the SheWhisperer’s Doodle.  At least that was something for the Doodle. Meanwhile, we waited for the SWAT team to arrive and throw the book at me, then take Beau the French Bulldog out in cuffs for not wearing a collar.

Incidentally, I noticed the SheWhisperer didn’t scoop any poop but given the circumstances it was probably the wrong time to issue a friendly reminder.

With no sirens blaring, no lights flashing, no helicopters and no dog park rapture, the SheWhisperer decided it was time to pack up her little Subaru. Not to be out done, she threw out an insult as she loaded up her dog.

“You dog walkers have ruined this place.”

Annie wasn’t having it. She is from Michigan so she is very  practical, “Then don’t come here.”

The SheWhisperer’s dogs seemed grateful for the few minutes of playtime they managed to squeeze in. The red Subaru,  looked like it was off on its next terror strike but then a thunderbolt seemed to hit the SheWhisperer in the head.  The driver door swung open and she hopped out of her car with a renewed faith. This time she  photographed the license plate of several cars in the parking lot.

What ever was she planning on doing with those photographs I wondered.  I also wanted to know how much those poor clients were paying for the training they weren’t getting.

This was the final straw for Jessica. She finally couldn’t take it anymore. She actually lost some of her bad ass composure she was so bewildered by the Stalkerish behavior of the SheWhisperer.

It seemed like hours had gone by since the arrival of SheWhisperer but in reality it was only 20 minutes. I was exhausted from the tumult and worried about how my greasy hair was going to appear on YouTube. It was enough that I decided to pack it up and go find my husband.

Turns out, he was only a hundred yards away. So he stayed at the park with Nacho and Stella while I drove some dogs home and tried to shake off my encounter with the SheWhisperer.

A couple of hours later, as we ate our Schwarmas in the black asphalt parking lot of the Zankou Chicken on Sunset and Fairfax, sharing bites with all of the dogs, I shared in detail the drama of the SheWhisperer with him.

His observations are always very astute.

“Sounds like Annie Wilkes from Misery.”

He was right.  But I seemed to recall Annie Wilkes had members of her rural community fooled. It was only Paul Sheldon who saw her for the monster she really was.

“No, she’d been trial for poisoning someone. Something like that.”

I’m pretty sure my husband was correct. He doesn’t usually get his Stephen King or country music references wrong.