Tuesday night I took the dogs to the Winter Wonderland holiday light show at the Portland International Raceway. They have an event one night each year where they close down the track to vehicles and they let people walk it with or without dogs. It’s a very neat sounding event and I did it for a few years with Heffner and Bess (here). And then I stopped.
It’s been a good five years at least since I’ve been to this event. Enough time for me to see it through rose colored glasses. And enough time for me not to think about what the population explosion in Portland would do to that event.
Portland has seen a rather dramatic influx of people moving to the area. It’s increased housing prices, jacked up rents, and created a plethora of problems that crop up when a city cannot keep up with the population boom that it’s experiencing. I’ve noticed it in plenty of little ways and hadn’t even thought about what it would do for the turn out at the event on Tuesday. It was nuts.
There were waaaaaay more people than I’ve ever seen before. Granted we did have pretty ideal weather with clear skies and temperatures that were still above freezing. But still. I got to the event with a friend of mine two hours after it opened. In years past, that would be when the parking lot was starting to clear out. Not the case this year. It was work to find a parking spot.
I could tell that the organizers were doing what they could to handle the numbers, but the multiple lines to get in were long. Which meant that there was a high density of people and dogs in a smallish space as they waited to pay to get in. I didn’t hear any dog fights break out and I have to admit that I was really surprised. Maybe people were just watching their dogs more while they stood in line. Cause they certainly weren’t doing it once they got out on the track.
What is it about large gatherings of people that seems to cause participants to lose what common sense they have? Yes this is an enclosed area, but for the love, that does not mean that you no longer have to watch what the hell your kids are doing. That’s an excellent way for your kid to get bit and have an innocent dog get blamed for it. While I was off to the side of the path picking up Dominic’s poop, my friend had to actually guard our backs and force at least one kid around us because she was going to walk smack into my dogs. While I was picking up poop!! And the rest of their group kept passing by so close to us that I pulled both dogs off the path, over the string of lights into the grassy area so that they wouldn’t keep getting brushed by people. Again, while I was trying to pick up poop.
The worse offense of the night was definitely that people were just flat out not paying attention to their dogs. There were plenty of people I saw walking with their dogs, either by themselves or with a group of people, who were not paying attention to the fact that their dog was going up and rudely greeting other dogs and pissing them off. Other people were just marching ahead as they dragged their dogs behind them. Dogs were ricocheting of each other and the owners didn’t seem to realize that not everyone’s dog was okay with this. Then as we were going through this one tunnel of lights, large clumps of people just freaking stopped everywhere and completely blocked the traffic! I understand wanting to get pictures of your dog. Trust me, I do. But when you’re trying to do it in an area that is already packed and you are completely obstructing the flow of traffic, be conscientious and realize that then is just not the time. And also realize that two seconds from then is also, still not the time.
I had grand ideas of getting cute pictures and taking random video snippets. And I did none of that. I did not take one single picture or video. Because I had to keep an eye on what the hell all the randos were NOT paying attention to so that my dogs stayed safe. I will fully admit that Miley and Dominic were a little wound up and they took some effort for me to manage them both, on short leashes, at a slower than usual walking pace. They were not perfect angels, but at least I was watching my dogs and watching OUT for my dogs. This is an event that I will not do again. For me, it was not worth the stress.