A People's Dog Park

at 12:35 AM

Everyone knows that a boy must have a dog. So when our boy was five, we adopted a rescued dog, Buddy Valentine, never realizing that with this simple act we had jumped into the deep end of the crazy dog people pool.

Suddenly every one began telling us, "You have to go to Pt. Isabel. It's a dog park near Costco in Richmond." I imagined something grim and industrial, cement and cyclone fencing.  However, I'd done my research and all the experts agreed that dogs should be taken for off-leash runs.

So, one day after work, Buddy and I ventured forth to the alleged dog park. I was still in my office clothes. Buddy, as always, wore his honest brown suit. I was the only one at the park with a handbag.

Pt. Isabel Regional Shoreline is the largest off-leash dog park in the nation, with 23 acres of fields and amazing views of San Francisco and Marin. Purebreds and mixes romp through the grasses and swim in the bay while owners walk the trails. It is quite a thing to start the morning admiring cranes and herons or watching a ship sliding under the Golden Gate Bridge. You can see the freeway, too, where cars are bumper to bumper, each driver isolated. They listen to radios, talk on phones, illegally text. Everyone is so very busy keeping so very busy.

But at the dog park, people say hello as we pass one another and most will stop to chat. We're as diverse a group as our canines, yet we manage to get along. Perhaps the posted rules of acceptable dog behavior remind us to take care with our own behavior.

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Buddy's passed on to the great dog park in the sky, but we're still going to the shoreline with our new rescued dogs.

We first came to Pt. Isabel because we wanted to treat our dogs to freedom. We didn't expect that our pets would lead us to a place where we can be free of the handbags and gadgets and busyness of busyness.

We've found commonality in being crazy dog people because humans, like dogs, are social animals. So jump on in the crazy dog people pool -- the water's fine.

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With a Perspective, this is Marta Acosta.

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