Saturday In The Park — With Dogs

Regular readers know that I occasionally use this forum to promote various worthy causes. I ask people to send money or do something that usually involves walking. Many are called, few respond.

One person who has been really good at responding over the past year is my friend Tina. She and husband Chris attended the zombie walk for my son’s day program and they attended the All Stars for Autism event. In fact, Tina pestered me for months about this year’s All Stars for Autism event — which never happened — as if I controlled the PR department of the St. Louis Cardinals. Speaking of which, why wasn’t there an All Stars for Autism event this year, St. Louis Cardinals? It was the one time a year I would go to a baseball game and the only time a year my family would come visit me.

But I digress.

So when Tina sent me an email inviting me to join her team at the Bark in the Park 1-mile walk to benefit the Humane Society of Missouri, well, what could I do? Payback is a, well, you know. And literally in this case. I agreed to do it in large part because it was a Bark in the Park and not a Meow in the Whatever-Rhymes-With Meow.

Dogs. Since the extinction of the dinosaurs has there ever been an animal as awesome as the dog? No. None more awesome. So I agreed to attend, even though I had a sneaking suspicion that some of my entry fee money would go to causes that help cats and other, lesser critters (lesser than dogs, not lesser than cats. There are no animals lesser than cats). But hey, I’m sure a lot of my tax money goes to things I don’t approve of either. That’s just the way these things go.

So I give Tina a check and ask, “When do I get my T-shirt?”

“You don’t.”

“Excuse me?”

“I get a T-shirt as team captain, but the rest of you don’t.”

OK, Humane Society of Missouri, this is not the understood social contract for charitable giving. Every charitable event I’ve attended, and I’ve attended many (sometimes I think the only exercise I get is from walking for causes) I’ve received a T-shirt for my effort (and money). Oh, it’s not that I need the T-shirts. It’s not even that I wear them. Who wants to wear a T-shirt with a zombie and blood splatters on it? I keep an emergency T-shirt that I’ve never worn in my trunk from some walk I attended a few years ago.

No, I don’t need the T-shirt. It’s the principle. Charitable giving would dry up tomorrow if people weren’t given meaningless crap in return for their money. I’ve got dozens of tote bags from the zoo and the art museum, I get monthly magazines from Channel 9 and the zoo. The University of Missouri sends me luggage tags. Play the game, Humane Society.

But I digress.

Audrey and her dog Lizzie decide to join our team and so on Saturday morning The Wife, The Son, Audrey, Lizzie, Tina, Chris and Bentley (Chris and Tina’s dog, who was technically team captain as the team was called Bentley’s Barkers and yet you can bet he didn’t get a T-shirt) converged at the Bread Company on Brentwood Boulevard to plan our strategy for the day. Tina had made snacks for everyone, which are much better than T-shirts.

100_1741Bentley and Lizzie are small dogs and I’m on record as being opposed to small dogs. If you’re going to have a small dog you might as well have a cat, I always say. But Bent and Liz are pretty adorable, so I’ll give them a pass.

The event was to take place at Forest Park and my compatriots were convinced we’d have no trouble finding parking. I was not. I’ve lived here more than 20 years now and I assure you, if it’s a nice day and there’s something going on in Forest Park — and I’m going to be there — then everyone and their dog (literally in this case) will show up at Forest Park.

We drove to the park and sure enough, the place was packed. We did somehow manage to find parking spaces and after some confusion  made our way to a large grassy area filled with canines. This must be the place.

100_1744Went to the registration tent where I was handed a tote bag full of dog-related coupons, a small frisbee and a wet-nap. OK, Humane Society, it’s not a T-shirt but it is something. You’re off the hook. I gave the coupons to Tina, the frisbee to The Son, the tote bag to The Wife and kept the wet-nap.

As expected, pretty much every dog in St. Louis was there (except for Melissa’s dog Liberty, whom I’m told “doesn’t play well with others.”). To my surprise there was not a lot of bark at Bark in the Park. The dogs were much quieter than I was expecting.


The walk began roughly promptly at 11 a.m. and in no time The Wife, Chris, Audrey and Lizzie had left Tina, Bentley, The Son and I in the dust. For once it wasn’t my fault. Bentley is a very inquisitive and friendly dog and lots of people wanted to pet him. The plan if we were to get separated was to meet at the giant inflatable dog after the walk but apparently the only people who heard the plan were Tina and I and since we were together the plan didn’t really pan out. Thanks to modern cellphone technology we were able to hook up with the other half of the team.

After the walk Tina and Audrey and the dogs waited in line for free dog stuff. The Wife and Chris didn’t get near enough exercise from that measly one-mile walk, so they decided to go another round. The Son and I followed but it was quickly clear that we would not be able to keep up, so we found a picnic table and hung out. Watched a dog show that was mainly dogs catching frisbees and by the time that was over the ladies had compiled all the free stuff they could carry so we made our way back to the cars.

We returned to Bread Co. for lunch and had a nice, long, leisurely meal and chat. Tina eventually had to leave for yet another walk that night which I thankfully had not been invited to attend. I don’t know what the cause was but these boots are only made for so much walking.




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