Penultimo interviews Ultimo resident, Kitty, dog walker and cultural commentator
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Penultimo: You’ve mentioned a dog park in Ultimo … where is this park exactly?
Kitty: It’s on the corner of Bulwara Rd and Mary Ann St. It’s called the Mary Ann St Park - also known as ‘Chicken Bones Park’, because there always seem to be BBQ chicken carcasses scattered everywhere.
Penultimo: So, this dog park is a big social scene, no?
Kitty: (hesitates) Kind of. People tend to be pretty friendly when you have a small dog - it’s kind of like having a cute baby.
It’s also kind of forced on you: first, your dogs say hello, and you have to supervise in case one of them decides to go mental so you’re standing right next to a stranger while your dogs are doing sometimes pretty intimate things to each other.
So you pretty much have to smile and say hello, at the very least.
Also, you always have something to talk about.
Penultimo: Like what?
Kitty: … Dogs.
But it’s kind of funny for me because I’m not actually a dog person. My partner and I were asked to ‘mind’ this dog, and here we are a couple of years later. His name is Oscar. The dog, not my partner. Because I’m not a dog-person, I can’t always participate fully in the anecdote-swapping and tip-sharing that seems to be the norm.
Penultimo: What’s the best time of day to go, to catch maximum dog+owner sociability?
Kitty: Morning or late afternoon (before or after work). Lunch is a bad time to go because people are trying to eat their lunch and our dog is always too busy trying to scab food, so he won’t chase the ball.
Having said that, the three most committed dog walkers I have met seem not to be employed. One guy informed me, very authoritatively, that even a small dog needs at least four hours’ walking per day.
Penultimo: What about your dog, is he popular with the other pups?
Kitty: Oscar? He sure is. One pup named Paris tried very hard to seduce him while she was on heat. Fortunately he’s de-sexed (although a Jack Russell-cross-Chihuahua would be super cute). Oscar isn’t aggressive and he’s pretty small so he’s not too threatening. He likes to play ‘the circle game’ which involves enticing another dog to chase him and then running full pelt in a circle. He’s developed a strategy to ‘win’ when he’s being chased by a bigger dog. He suddenly stops completely and pissbolts in the other direction. The larger dog has to take evasive action and Oscar gets a head start.
Penultimo: Black Caviar, watch out. Now, Kitty, tell us about some of the characters you’ve encountered at the dog park.
Kitty: Well, there’s the ocker bloke (who used to work as a security guard), he’s got three chihuahuas called Paris (Hilton), Jessica (Simpson) and … Duvette.
Then there’s a guy who sometimes sleeps in the park … he has a gorgeous little dog who is actually very well cared for considering its owner seems to have some alcohol and housing difficulties. There’s a bloke who is obsessed with César Milan (of The Dog Whisperer - the show’s on ABC - if you haven’t seen it, watch it. Seriously.)
And then there are the people who feed entire loaves of bread to the pigeons … which Oscar ends up eating.
Penultimo: Those poor skinny pigeons, being beaten to it. Well, we’ve seen some weird things in this park, what about you, Kitty? What’s the oddest thing you’ve seen at the dog park?
Kitty: I’ve spotted a roving guinea pig and a cat.
Penultimo: What, were they roving together?
Kitty: Hard to say. Oh, and the guy with the chihuahuas takes his dogs around in a pram. Or a stroller with a plastic cover if it’s raining.
Penultimo: Oh … that guy! We heard rumours that this dog park was recently home to a wild colony of guinea pigs, but more recently this turned into a wild colony of dead guinea pigs. Care to comment?
Kitty: You’ll have to ask my partner about that one. Other than that one sighting I can’t comment.
Penultimo: We’ve seen a woman walking two pets: a cat and a dog, and they’re both black and white. Have you seen them?
Penultimo: Oh … AND - We’ve seen a woman walking a tiny little bunny rabbit on a leash, in the dog park. Have you seen them?
Kitty: Sadly, no
Penultimo: Dang. Is there a politics to dog park walking?
Kitty: I’m not sure actually. I mean, obviously you have to pick up after them, and not let them, y’know, bite anyone … One should also try to make sure they don’t steal people’s lunches, or get overly boisterous with little kidlets.
Penultimo: What about a politics to dog-ball-throwing?
Kitty: That’s easy: try not to hit anyone with the ball. Don’t allow your dog to steal another dog’s ball (unless it has clearly been abandoned, in which case it’s finders-keepers).
Penultimo: Generally speaking, who is humping whom in the dog park?
Kitty: There appears to be neither rhyme nor reason to the pattern of humping. It’s like Sydney Uni.
Penultimo: Is it true that the owners always look like their dogs?
Kitty: Sometimes … muscly guys with muscly dogs, cutesy girls with cutesy dogs, fat people with fat dogs. But fortunately there is often no resemblance.
Penultimo: Well, this has been great. Anything else you’ve been dying to say about the dog park?
Kitty: If anyone reading this blog eats chicken at Mary Ann St Park, please dispose of your food scraps in one of the available bins. Some unfortunate dog may choke on your delicious (but potentially deadly) chicken bones.