Brussels in Black & White

By David Deweerdt

Bailey The Dog (with German accent) – “Where are we going this time, human? Are we going on an adventure in this small convertible? I hope we are nearly there because these seats are terribly uncomfortable and not very dog-friendly! From all exquisitely designed German cars you had to pick a Volkswagen Golf, mein Gott! I mean at least you chose the right country but come on, you could have opted for a Mercedes or a BMW… I’m just saying…

David – “Who’s a good boy?? Are you excited about going to Brussels?? We’re going to visit some parks and check how dog-friendly they are, how about that?

Bailey – “Oh Brussels, Wunderbar! Ah, Ich liebe Brussels, my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather used to be stationed there during the German occupation. Sorry again for that. We dogs just obey orders, you know, we are not racist, it just depends on how we are trained.”

David – “Okay, we just arrived at the first park, it’s called “Josaphatpark”, it’s in Schaarbeek. Let’s go check it out.

Bailey – “Lass uns gehen!”

David – “This place looks great! A couple of ponds, very neatly gardened flowers and plants, well-maintained footpaths that guide you from fountain to statue and… Well, there are no other dogs here and we can’t go on the grass, so playing isn’t really an option. I don’t think you would rate this park very high now, would you boy?”

Bailey – “First of all, stop talking to me like I am a toddler. My 4 years on the face of the planet as a canine count for 28 human years, so basically I should be giving you the orders. This place is designed for elderly people who want to feed ducks. Three out of ten. Two points for the nice smelling flowers, and one point for the poor gardener who will have to clean up what I just did on the flowers.”

David – “Would you like to go to the next park boy?! Who’s hyped for the next park?? Who’s a good boy??”

Bailey – (sighs) “Why do I even bother responding? Okay, ganz gut, einsteigen.”

David – “Next stop ‘Hertoginnedal’ and ‘Bronnenpark’ in Sint-Pieters-Woluwe.”

(10 minutes drive and a ruined leather passenger seat later)

David – “Apparently, the Hertoginnedal park is closed, so we’ll just have to go straight to Bronnenpark, boy. Too bad I can’t review this park now because it looks large and decent enough. I did spot free poop-bag dispensers, so that’s already one thing, I guess.”

Bailey – “Now that’s what I call “shitty service” *ba-dum-tss*

“If you could understand me, you would have laughed your ass off, you pun-loving bastard! Okay, but seriously now, this park gets a zero because it’s closed on the one day I come here. Maybe two points for putting the dispensers here so I can see the human pick up my feces, that always cracks me up.”

(Bronnenpark is just a few hundred meters down the road crossing the pedestrian bridge which crosses the ‘Tervurenlaan’.)

Bailey – “THIS PLACE IS PHANTASTISCH! Dirt roads, lots of vegetation, it’s like a small forest in the city. And there are fellow canines gathering near that bench over there, splendid, time for some networking!”

David – I’m spotting some dogs near that bench, you’re probably going to do a lot of butt-sniffing, won’t you?”

Bailey – “Your lack of respect and knowledge for my peoples ways and culture is disturbing, but not surprising. Though I forgive you. You just don’t know any better.”

I approach the bench where three elderly men are hanging out with their dogs and explain that I’m working on an article about dogs in Brussels. They are excited to tell me all about their dogs and how this is their favorite bench. I can’t disagree, it is a pretty good spot in this little green valley surrounded by trees and plants.

David – “Okay Bailey, the friendly gentlemen don’t mind us taking a picture for our article, sit down and say ‘cheese’.”

Bailey – “Cheese is for degenerate Dutch shepherd dogs. I will stick to my roots and culture, Danke schön!

David – “Say goodbye to your friends Bailey, if we hurry we can check out one more park!”

Bailey – “You heard the kid, time for me to go. A pleasure meeting you guys, you form a nice pack and you chose a great park to settle in. If I could ever pass on my knowledge about this dog sanctuary, I will do so without hesitation. Auf wiedersehen!”

David – “Sooo who enjoyed sniffing some new dog-rears in a new park?? “

Bailey – “Your failure to perceive my intellectual capacities amuse me, kid. But if you really want to know, the best park out of three so far! Lots of green, lot’s of sticks lying around, fellow intellectuals to communicate and debate with, and one of the elder gentlemen gave me a biscuit, so twelve out of ten, I would definitely come here again.”

David – “You looked like you were having a good time, so I’ll give it like an eight out of ten.”

Bailey – “Close enough.”

David – “Alright, last stop: ‘Ter Kamerenbos’ in Elsene.”

(We get out and start exploring the domain of Ter Kamerenbos in the rain and try to stay positive, we seek shelter under some big pine trees, play some fetch and spot some locals.)

Bailey – “Ich glaube es nicht! Look over there, fellow shepherds of the Reich!

David – “Aww, look who’s excited to sniff more butts!”

Bailey – “They’re females, don’t screw this up for me! It’s time for you to be my wingman for a change, kid.”

(I approach the family walking towards us, they’re on a stroll with their two German shepherds. I explain that I’m working on an article about dogs and ask permission for a picture, but Bailey was too nervous to sit close enough to one of the other dogs so the pictures turned out pretty useless.)

Bailey – “Guten Tag, what brings some fine German shepherds to a park like this?”

(I noticed Bailey wasn’t socializing with the other dogs as well as I hoped for so we said “auf wiedersehen” and went on our way again.)

David – “What happened back there boy, they weren’t interested? It’s not because of the thing we had to do about… You know… your… testosterone levels…”

Bailey – “I will never forgive you for that… But no, actually it was my fault, I made a misplaced remark about how good they looked, being German purebreds and all, but they took it the wrong way. I guess we Germans lost all our rights to talk about the purity of breeds a while ago.”

David – “Anyway, what do you think of this park?”

Bailey – “Well, there’s a lot to do. The pond and nature look nice, there’s lots of dogs to meet, or ‘butts to sniff’, as you would put it. Lots of sticks laying around, some grass fields here and there. I like it, this is a pretty good park. I would say NEIN out of ten, almost perfection, but no biscuits.”

David – “This place sure must be nice for a dog. Lots of space, lots of dogs, if only I knew what mattered most to you four-legged beautiful bastards, I would be able to write a review for other dogs instead of a review for other dog owners.”

Bailey – “To be honest, the park doesn’t really matter all too much as long as you’re in good company… Yes, that was a compliment, but I realize that you can’t understand me anyway, so…

(Bailey, the muddy dog, enthusiastically jumps up against his master.)

David – “I’ll take that as a way of saying you liked your day out in Brussels.”

Bailey – “Basically.”

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