In the absence of barking, I sat in the Side Six booth. It was noticeable, this absence of barking. The clear morning air was calm and silent; just the way I’m sure the neighbors way up the hill like it. On the field a close to 300 dogs and their owners milled around waiting for the start of the DAWG walk, without the promised din and danger.
The din and danger had been promised to the neighbors a little over three years ago by Cathy Schlicht, a Mission Viejo City Councilwoman who zealously went door to door until she found a slim handful of malcontents willing to threaten the city with a law suit in order to kill the proposed dog park on the site of The Village Green. Schlicht’s fear-mongering of loud noise, bad smells, and constant danger was nowhere to be seen.
Mission Viejo City Councilwoman Cathy Schlicht wouldn’t know that because she never attends the DAWG Walk and Pet Faire; in fact, she doesn’t attend any of the city’s events. Mission Viejo City Councilwoman Rhonda Reardon, who also routinely votes against anything dog park related wasn’t there either. It’s a shame they can’t be bothered to attend events like the DAWG Walk and Pet Faire.
What they didn’t see, but what I did see was positively pastoral. The Side Six booth was right next to the Dog Park booth. The citizens, estimated at about 1000 total, were all enjoying the 18th Annual DAWG Walk and Pet Faire. Most of them walking along with their four-legged friend, looking at the vendor’s booths or sitting and enjoying the Disc Dogs of Southern California. And, once again, the Disc Dogs put on a fantastic show. Some of Mission Viejo’s citizens came without a friend because they were looking to adopt someone who had been rescued. There were quite a few adoptions according to the many rescue clubs who attended.
DAWG is a marvelous organization that raises money in order to pay medical bills for lost, abandoned, and neglected animals in the Mission Viejo area. Over the years DAWG has helped over 30,000 animals live happy and rewarding lives. And, just like those lives, the 18th Annual DAWG Walk and Pet Faire was a happy and rewarding time for all.
DAWG raised about $13,000 this year at the event. The grand prize winner in the raffle, Alex Tang, received $300 worth of dog goodies from Pet Supply Warehouse and wrote a wonderful thank you that is typical of the feedback DAWG routinely receives: “Wow! Thank you, Sharon. Meatball is loving all the new toys. Thank you and all the wonderful people at DAWG and the shelter for putting together the walk every year.”
It was the third DAWG Walk and Pet Faire I had attended. All of them have been noticeable for the absence of barking that occurs during the four hours of festivities. At each of the events there were far more dogs than you’d ever find at a dog park at one time. And not one of the senior citizens Cathy Schlicht claimed would be attacked by a dog has ever been knocked down. No one has died from the strange disease Schlicht said these dogs carry during a city council meeting. A dog has never bolted off to attack a soccer team in the middle of a game. Dogs have, however, wagged their tails, drank water, and sniffed each others' butts. Hunter, the dog at the Side Six booth, lied at my feet most of the time. He did get up to sniff a butt here and there, he is polite and friendly after all, but mostly he lied at my feet not barking.
Because the Side Six booth was next to the Dog Park booth, I had a great observation point. Here’s what I observed: during the four hours of the DAWG Walk and Pet Faire there was a total of 37 minutes when there wasn’t someone at the Dog Park booth asking several questions about why we don't have a dog park in Mission Viejo. Because there was an absence of barking, a noticeable one, I could hear these questions perfectly. The questions were along these lines:
“Why hasn’t this been built yet?”
“What’s wrong with the city council anyway?”
“What can I do to help?”
“Don’t they realize how many of us want this park?”
“Who shouldn’t we vote for?”
The volunteers in the Dog Park booth were a lot more polite about the answers than I would have been and they answered every question they were asked with specific details about the plans for the park and the people we shouldn’t vote for. There are only two names to remember if you want to know who not to vote for: Cathy Schlicht and Rhonda Reardon.
The Dog Park was put on the council agenda in 2003 by Trish Kelly and the last time I checked it is now 2012; the dog park, as any idiot knows, is a three meeting agenda item — it’s an up or down vote. The reason the dog park has stayed on the agenda for nine years is both obvious and appalling if you understand Mission Viejo politics as practiced by the group that sponsors Schlicht/Reardon.
Due to the noticeable absence of barking I also overheard some interesting comments by people who visited the dog park booth:
“I wrote down the names of the two women who voted against it so I remember who not to vote for.”
“The council’s behavior on this has got me watching the meetings and paying a lot more attention.”
“At least we know who to blame for this mess.”
“I can’t believe it’s taken this long.”
There were a lot of angry voters to say the least. In a town where only about 24,000 homes actually vote, a politician can’t afford to have angry voters writing down her name so the voters remember who not to vote for; a politician can’t afford to have people writing down her name and then talking to all their friends and neighbors; a politician certainly can’t afford to have that sort of thing happening among the dog owners, the tennis players, the people who support the Nadadores, the people who have children learning to read, the people who sit out in the sun baking at little league games wishing for some shade — no the politicians in this town, some of them, can’t afford to have people actually paying attention.