The Rules of The Dog Park
By Jamie S. Brown
(From Hollywood 666)
There’s an unwritten rule in Los Angeles that you
can meet producers, directors, and other famous people at
the dog park. It’s considered hallowed ground for most
pet owners, a place where you can just hang out and
enjoy your one truly unconditional relationship. Having a
dog in L.A. is having someone who always loves you, even
when everything in your life is going to shit.
One of the best places to let your four-legged
friend run around while you mingle with other industry
professionals is the Lake Balboa Dog Park in the San
Fernando Valley. It’s usually where you’ll see major studio
financiers picking up dog shit the same way the rest of us
do. The clientele is a mix of Valley grip and electric guys
walking their pit bulls and mastiffs. There’s even a fenced-off
section so the porn stars and trust fund girls can walk
their purse dogs without having to worry about them being
eaten by the bigger dogs.
I try to take my dog out there at least once a week, but the
hot summer months aren’t really ideal since 8 a.m.
temperatures can reach close to 95 degrees, and neither
of us want to be out in that.
As a writer and director, I’m very wary of two kinds
of people always found at the dog park: a guy with a
satchel or messenger bag or a guy walking around with
one of those hipster old 35mm cameras. If you see these
guys at the dog park you automatically know they’re trying
to mingle in a non-dog specific way — they’re there to
When I go to the dog park it’s all about Buddy
getting to run as fast and as long as he can. He can get
pretty restless with my crazy schedule so I love to see him
have a chance to cut loose and chase a ball through a
mile of the fenced-in park.
You get to know a few of the regulars as you
continue visiting. The 80’s horror scream queen with her
four rescue dogs who will talk to you about anything and
everything that isn’t industry-related. The adorable little
porn star who hopes you haven’t recognized her and does
everything in her power to dull herself down when she
comes in. Her hulking pit bull gets to run and play with the
other dogs while she sneaks off into a corner to respond
to the live link she has on her website, a premium for her
devoted fans. It’s a remarkable place filled with really good
people who more than anything just want to see their
So when you see someone wandering the park
without a dog, you’re caught slightly off guard. It’s kind of
like the way, parents feel when they see an adult walking
around without a child at a playground. Most of the time
it’s just paranoia since most dogs can run all the way to
the back of the park long before their owners even get
halfway, but when you see someone just grazing through
the park, looking more at the people than they do the
dogs, you begin to worry.
On this very normal day, we were all sitting under
the large oak tree in the middle of the park, trying to stay
in some sort of shade while our dogs chased one another
when we noticed a guy leering at us in the shade. My first
instinct was to look around to see if there was a dog we
didn’t recognize taking comfort in the shady tree with us,
but none of the dogs with us were strangers. I look over to
see my friend, the horror scream queen, pale as a ghost.
“You know that guy?” I asked.
“You could say that… four restraining orders, two actual
arrests. He’s been making my life a living hell for the last
decade. I thought he was locked up somewhere… They
were supposed to tell me when he gets out!” She quickly
pulls out her phone.
An interesting thing about the dog park is that if
anyone comes in with any sort of anxiety, all the dogs can
sense it. Coming to the park upset is a recipe for disaster
because your dog will do everything in his/her power to in
order to keep you safe. That instinct amplified by thirty or
so other dogs just makes a problem bigger. I look down at
her trembling hands.
“Do you want us to kick him out of here?” Charles asks as
he leans in.
“Thank you, but no. He had one of my convention security
guys arrested for trying to stop him from coming into my
dressing room, and it cost the guy his job. He’s a snake
and seems to know the law better than most. I’m gonna
have to go.”
“Like hell you are! You’re safer in here with us than you are
out there, right?” I ask, standing up and putting my back
between her and the stalker.
Charles gets up from the other side of the picnic table. His
large and intimidating Rottweiler wiggles up beside him,
staying within a few inches of him at all times.
We try our best to keep the conversation light and
friendly while Charles and I keep an eye glued to the
stalker, who’s still wandering through the center of the
park. I feel sorry for my friend. I really don’t know her that
well but I know she’s been acting in horror movies since
she was a kid. I know some of those actresses ended up
having stalkers due to Christian groups releasing their
private information in order to try to get them to stop
acting in horror movies. The ’80s were a great time for
horror movies, but a shitty time to be a young girl in a
horror movie when there are actually deranged stalkers on
the loose. The cultural argument was that she deserved it
for being in those movies. Nobody deserves that type of
Charles decides to take a walk with Shadow, his
dog, as he wants to get a closer look at this guy without
making anyone uneasy.
“He’s not going to do anything stupid, is he?” she asks.
“Of course not — he’s just going for a walk, that’s all,” I
say, trying to ease her fears.
Charles walks over and notices something in the guy’s
satchel. He starts scolding him for being in the park and
we all wince as we know this could quickly get really out
of hand, but Charles shakes his head and comes walking
back over to our shady spot with Shadow trotting along at
“That dumb Sonofabitch is walking around the park with a
bag full of fries and burgers. There’s a no-food policy in
this place for a reason. This guy’s a moron!” Charles is
flustered by the stupidity and I see our Scream Queen
friend crack a smile for the first time since we saw the guy
“We’ll hang out till you get set to go. If he pulls anything
we’ll be right there,” Charles proclaims as if he’s leading
out of the enemy territory.
My dog is still running in loops around the park,
occasionally checking in with me at a passing speed
before continuing on his circuit.
This is where things started to get less normal.
Stalker guy walks over in our direction and I can feel our
Scream Queen friend tightens up between us on the bench.
Charles and I quickly get up to block him from coming any
closer. He comes about five feet away from us and
suddenly starts yelling past us as if we’re some sort of
“I just came to tell you I’m back in town. All healthy and
better now. I even got my hair cut like that guy you like.
We can be together now…” the pitifulness of his voice
made the whole situation even more uncomfortable.
“Hey man, I don’t think she wants to see you. Can you
head on out of here and let her enjoy the time she has with
her dogs? Please…” For the first time since I started
talking he finally lowered his gaze to meet mine.
“I’ll fucking kill you if you try to stop us from being
together,” the stalker barks.
“You honky little shit… How dare you!” Charles’ voice
“You don’t need to be a part of this. It’s between her and
me. I even brought snacks for your little dogs.” The stalker
shoves his hand into his satchel and pulls out a large
fistful of french fries, his fingers squeezing them into
He throws down a handful of fries and a few of the
dogs quickly jump over and start eating them off the
ground. Within seconds there are more than twenty dogs
surrounding him chowing down on the handfuls of fries he
keeps pulling from his bag.
“You’re gonna cause a fucking fight between these dogs,”
Just then that I feel our Scream Queen friend step
between Charles and me, her sweet perfume catching both
of us off guard as she makes three strides past us and
stops kissing distance from her stalker. She pulls
something from her purse and grabs him around the neck.
It wasn’t until the fourth swing that we could see a small
hooked blade in her hand. He’s still smiling at her as she
carves into his abdomen, her violent stabs making her
entire shoulders wince with every hit. Charles and I stand
there in absolute shock. This tiny 100-pound woman is
gutting the guy who had stalked and harassed her for
years. I don’t really know her that well but I still
sympathize with her as she uses every muscle in her body
to keep jamming that blade into his guts, the smile never
leaving his face. By now the dogs have surrounded them
and the stalker is slowly falling to his knees. A few of the
dogs are biting at the loose meat in his stomach as
Charles and I stand there gaping with inconceivable
horror. Charles has Shadow by the collar and won’t let her
get any further. I start to scan the empty areas of the park,
hoping Buddy is not in this pile of carnage. I find Buddy
on the other side of the field, running back and forth with a
smaller dog on the far side of the fence. He’s utterly
oblivious to the human buffet that’s taking place in front of
us. The massive chaos of dogs pulling and ripping at his
flesh feels more like we’re watching piranhas devour a calf
than a pack of various domesticated dogs peeling the skin
from a thirty-something-year-old man.
After about fifteen minutes the first few dogs break
off and revert to running around chasing one another. The
remains of the stalker seem more like spilled spaghetti
than human flesh. Some of the dogs had pulled off bones
and were now enjoying a quiet spot in the shade with their
“You’re right, you really shouldn’t bring food into the dog
park,” she says with a smile.
After that day I started going to the Hollywood dog
park instead. It’s much further away but it’s been
completely normal for the last few months, and I’ll take it.
MORE WRITING SAMPLES FROM JAMIE'S PROJECTS COMING SOON.