Have you seen the viral video of the Golden Retrievers that take a swim? If not, I recommend it for the pure joyfulness of it all. The clip starts out with a group of about 20 Goldens prancing behind a gate, eagerly watching a man approach. He opens the gate, releasing the dogs and they pour out into what turns out to be a shallow, inground swimming pool. They pick up on the obvious invitation and don’t need to be asked twice, so into the pool they all go. Some employ a dignified approach, using the stairs to walk in, others flop into the water from the edge and still others take a running joyful leap. They swim in circles or across the length of the pool, moving around each other like a dance. Some get out, shake from head to toe and jump in again. It’s dog bliss, plain and simple, and we humans could all take a lesson from that kind of communal happiness.
In light of the unrest in the streets happening right now, my psyche roots around for happy thoughts to concentrate on, stirring my imagination to run amok. And so, I imagined what it would look like if dogs took to the streets. Of course, in my happiness seeking scenario, they don’t have an agenda, are not protesting any injustice, are not bound by political affiliations, and blatantly do not care what color or breed they represent nor what neighborhood they hail from. The only criteria to join would be shared species, and ultimately, they would welcome other species into the fold. What is a street filled with dogs without a few cats or squirrels or dog-loving humans thrown into the mix to keep it interesting? The more the merrier, right?
When dogs take to the streets, there are no leashes required. Of course, if a dog feels safer carrying its leash around, let him. No judgment among dogs. With the rules—or lack thereof—established, the furry mob would exit their yards, leaving fence gates agape and dog doors swinging. The numbers would increase as more and more join in the happy parade. Imagine viewing that scene from your front porch! The holiday vibe would be contagious, attracting human onlookers, dog lovers and kids everywhere who like a good pickup game. No balloons, banners or marching bands would be required to announce the fun. The cacophony of happy dog sounds and humans laughing and waving, beckoning you to join would draw all the attention needed. The numbers would be dizzying.
From every corner of town, the throngs would gather, filling the streets until they converged at the center of town. In light of recent events, you might picture this moment as a terrible clash of epic proportions, but not in my imagination, not with dogs. Instead, it would be a merging and weaving of fur, creating an aerial optic not unlike the braiding of multi-colored hair. It would be more like a church social or a reunion, where, regardless of kinship, they would greet each other, tails wagging and muzzles smiling. They would be giddy with the heady aromas in the air, some new and some familiar. They would bark greetings, strike a playful posture, and chase each other around the trees. Older dogs would stick to the sidelines, watching with good humor and wishing they were young again. Puppies would lose their minds in the ocean of sensory stimulation, get overwhelmed and take a nap in the shade. Many would head straight for the wading pool where they would splash and chase, swim and shake their fur, spraying all within a 10-foot span.
The humans who joined in the fun would begin to play too—throwing balls or Frisbees for the dogs, or chasing and dodging around the park. Older humans would sit on the benches, welcoming the company of less energetic dogs that just wanted some gentle company or a pat on the head. The party would last for hours, with latecomers joining in as the party wound down and some dropping out when it was dinnertime. The humans would leave a few at a time to go back to their obligations and the park would empty out. A few stragglers would remain after sunset to rest in the cool grass or look up at the stars, or simply to enjoy the peace of the park at night. The squirrels would come out of hiding once the coast was clear to practice aerial acrobatics while chiding anyone, canine or human, remaining on the ground. Prowling cats would emerge, alarmed by the pungent aftermath of so many dogs, get nervous and vacate.
The next day, it would take only a few volunteers to clean up the mess left behind. Armed with pooper scoopers and trash cans, all evidence would be erased in no time. The pool cleaners might have a tougher time, but the joyful memories would outweigh the hassle. As the volunteers worked, they would marvel at the spectacle of it all and declare it an historic event. They would laugh and smile and swap stories of what they saw or heard or experienced on that special day: the day the dogs took to the streets.