They say that dogs become like their owners or owners like their dogs. I realize that my mom is Frankie’s “mom,” but since he spends most of his time with me, that’s really just a technicality. A recent trip to the dog park made it all too clear — Frankie and I are a bit too alike to do either of us much good.

We were invited to spend a recent Sunday afternoon at the Jacksonville Beach Dog Park. Since this is something my mom and I have always been nervous to try alone, I jumped at the opportunity to go with my neighbors, Trish and Pete and their dog, Chewy — seasoned dog park veterans. Besides, all parents are dying to watch their “kid” on the playground. To see how he acts with his friends.

I was disappointed. Frankie didn’t romp. Or play. Or chase balls. He didn’t even run fast. All the other dogs took off the minute their leashes were unclipped. Frankie just collapsed under the shade of a park bench and barely got up except to lap up the water that stained his chin or investigate the smells left behind by other dogs. Of course, he then raised his leg to mark the same fence post, garbage can or rock (any inanimate object, really.) He had to get the last word on the subject. In the dog world, it’s important to one-up the competition. To outsmell their smell.

He was the same way on a play date at a friend’s house. Boring. Frankie couldn’t have cared less about his three jolly playmates or their big backyard. He stayed inside in the AC, sprawled out on the cool tile.

It’s not like he’s the cool kid who can’t be bothered. He’s more like the grumpy old man who doesn’t want to join in the fun. Anti-social. This is where (I’m ashamed to confess) I see the similarities between us. Lord knows my mom has accused me of acting like her mother. And there’ve been plenty of times when I just can’t muster the will to go out. I’m a self-admitted homebody.

At the dog park, Frankie got up and moved whenever the other dogs started playing around him. And he growled whenever Chewy, a Shitzu-Yorkie mix (that’s right — a Shorkie,) got too rambunctious. Chewy can’t help it! He’s a youngster, still in the puppy phase. That annoying kid who just wants to be everyone’s friend. Frankie seems to have forgotten he was a puppy not too long ago. Apparently he skipped adulthood and went straight to senior citizen.

On our walks though, he seems to prefer dogs over people. Maybe, like me, he’s better one-on-one. But get a whole park full of them together and he opts out. As I watched my boy all by himself while the other dogs ran around in a pack, it was a good lesson for me. Sometimes being alone is just no fun. And okay, I’ll try harder not to growl internally when that family of four sits next to me at the movies.

The old man and the kid
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