Dog park pinball is a game usually played with two or three dogs and four or five humans, other dogs and natural features. The object of the game is to strike as many point-bearing goal posts (the humans) with penalties incurred for striking other dogs and more or less unforgiving features of the dog park, including, but not limited to the fence, the picnic table, the shelter, trees, buckets, the water spigot, the garbage cans and the pick-up bag dispenser.
No human knows what purpose this game serves in the greater scheme of things, or the exact nature of the rules. However, the rules (insofar as I can make them out) are as follows:
The game can begin as early as when a dog is released into the dog park.
If a dog shows an inclination for wrestling, the game can begin as soon as the preliminaries are completed (sniffing, milling around the entrance/exit gates, etc.)
The dogs engaging in the game are to run a course that will most efficiently hit as many knees as possible.
Extra points are given if the person loses their balance.
More points are given on a sliding scale, based on the inverse proportions of the dog and human. Therefore, a small dog gets more points for staggering a larger human, while a larger dog gets less points for throwing a smaller human off balance.
Colliding with three or more people in quick succession gets triple bonus points.
While wrestling or chasing one another around a specific human can result in hitting the knees, the act of circling the human is not in itself point-worthy.
Running into a dog that doesn’t appreciate the sport of Dog Park Pinball results in the loss of points.
Running into something solid, like the fence, results in the loss of points.
Running into something wet, like a water dish or mud, results in the loss of points only if a bath is threatened by the dog’s owner.
The game can end at any time, whether because one is removed from the dog park or because one loses interest.