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Barking Up the Right Tree:

There’s been some heated debate of late concerning access to an off-leash dog area in the new Airport Park near Santa Monica Airport. Humans differ on whether a facility created and maintained with Santa Monica taxes should be available to dogs from other adjacent Los Angeles neighborhoods. As it stands, a Santa Monica ordinance requires that dogs using the park have Santa Monica dog tags.

In an effort to bury the bone of contention in the dog park issue, Mirror writer Steve Stajich interviewed his own dog, Flozo, for a canine perspective. Flozo’s opinions are her own and she does not represent any other dogs affiliated with the Mirror.

Stajich: Thanks for taking time to do this. I know you have a lot going on.

Flozo: Don’t start with me. Lots of dogs sleep during the day. And when are we going to get some sheep? I can’t really “herd” those squirrels in the backyard, and they’re so stupid that barking at them doesn’t do anything.

Let’s focus on the new dog park. You’ve been there?

Yes. Very nice. It’s roomy. This past Saturday at around 11 a.m., however, there were only eight people and about six dogs there. Some of those small dogs barely count as one-half, so, maybe four dogs…

Of course some dogs just eat and sleep and pretty soon they count as two dogs.

Yeah, okay, I could work out a little bit more. All the more reason to have open area dog parks that are accessible. This new place is big enough that it would be silly if more dogs didn’t get over there and use it. That’s why I’m not sure I understand the problem. True, it was paid for with Santa Monica funds. But don’t public facilities have as their raison d’etre use by the general public? Don’t we have human parks so humans can mingle in an open, relaxed environment and maybe learn to like each other a little better? If we checked the “tags” of every human using the park, well, we’d be treating them like…

Dogs?

Look, dogs don’t have an Al Sharpton or even a Gloria Allred. Betty White has been nice to us, but now she’s hawking pet merchandise on TV. I’m not political, although I did write a letter to Snoop Dogg pointing out that real dogs don’t smoke pot or get busted for it. Still, he keeps it up with the “dogg” this and the “shizzle dogg” that.

Real dogs don’t get to be with other dogs all that much.

Don’t get me wrong. With the exception of making us wear sweaters or pose for pictures with little Santa hats, we have it pretty good in most homes. Cats will always have it better of course, but that’s a kind of cosmic compensation for their tiny brains and lack of marketable skills. [Laughs] Sorry, but come on, cats?! Anyhow, dogs might get to meet on the sidewalk or over a bowl of water in front of a shop on Main Street. And Lord knows who’s been slurping out of that thing. So we look forward to any opportunity to groove with other dogs and, shall we say, sniff out the issues of the day. And that includes dogs from outside Santa Monica.

But if their owners didn’t contribute toward the facility’s maintenance…?

If something is public, it’s public, and it’s a little embarrassing that we would literally shoo other dogs away. Imagine a pooch looking out his window in Mar Vista at the park across the street… a single tear running down his cheek, like that Native American in the old anti-litter commercial.

Bottom line: Let all dogs use the new park space…?

What keeps Santa Monica from completely becoming, oh, Brentwood, or even the Palisades? It’s that little bit of leftover hippie VW van openness, man. Sure, the rent control is evaporating and development is starting to block out the sky. But we still have a little bit of that beach city vibe, and while it lasts we should shine that light on dogs. Hey, are you crying? [sighs] Dude, you are such a big…kitty.

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