Upon the urging of my esthetician and several of my Facebook friends, I bought the first three seasons of Downton Abbey and obsessively watched them all within a week. This British period costume drama series depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the early twentieth century. Like all soap operas, it’s filled with love affairs, betrayal, intrigue and scandal. But what makes Downton appeal to such a diverse audience (husbands included) are the historical references. The sinking of the Titanic, the outbreak of WWI and the Spanish influenza epidemic, combined with the elaborate sets, costumes and always intelligent-sounding British accents make you think you are watching a documentary instead of a soap opera. You’re not rotting brain cells, you are studying history on PBS. Mom would be proud.
Today at the dog park, I observed a Downton Abbey-esque drama unfolding before my very eyes.
Much like the servants on Downton Abbey who spend most of their day downstairs, only coming upstairs to serve the Crawley family, the little dogs will sometimes visit the big dog side, but it is completely gauche for the big dogs to socialize on the little dog side. It’s just unheard of for the classes to mix in this way.
The little dogs, also like to yap—a lot. They huddle together and bark incessantly at each other, the humans and the occasional squirrel. I often imagine that they are prattling on about their lot in life and plotting new ways for advancement. The big dogs don’t have time to waste with idle gossip because they have important work to do like chasing tennis balls, marking their territory and sniffing out opportunities to ensure their position as top dog.
There is also an ample amount of conspiring, bickering, and sexual play being acted out on both sides of the fence, but unlike Downton, it’s not being done in secret behind close doors. These are American dogs of course and therefore not nearly as refined. Proper decorum is not their forte.
As for my dog, Hooper, he would most definitely be cast as The Earl of Grantham on the dog park version of Downton Abbey. He definitely believes the world revolves around him and sees no reason for his good life to ever change despite the circumstances in the world outside his humble estate. He has two dedicated human servants that wait on him hand and paw, making sure his every need is met. His only job is to keep up appearances which he does dutifully by making trips to the dog park and lake and running errands around town where the commoners bestow upon him praise and dog biscuits.
It’s good to be the Earl of Dogdom. It’s even better to be his human.