Tuesday, September 13, 2005

If you want to meet every person in your neigborhood, get a dog

I can't walk out my door with Lou the Beagle without getting stoppedby nearly every person walking by. I never got nearly this level of attention when I was pushing a baby carriage. Now, everyone wants to meet the baby.

I find it so interesting the way different people behave around her, and the way people speak to me. First, most people assume that Lou is a boy...despite that she is on a bright pink leather leash and wears a bright pink leather collar studded with little silver doggie bones. "Hey there, little guy," they say. "She's a girl," I say. "Nice fella...come here fella," they continue, seemingly oblivious to the fact that a short-haired dog actually CAN be a girl.

Second, most people with dogs immediately ask me if Lou has had all of her shots. When I tell them she has had every shot except for Rabies, many of them back away. As if my little baby has rabies???

Everyone wants to pet her. And everyone lets her bite them. And that makes me nuts. "NO!" I say in my best Alpha Dog-Mom voice, "NO BITE!" when I see her beginning to go from licking to teething on someone's hand. Inevitably, the recipient of the little nips will say, "Oh, don't worry about it, she's just a puppy, she needs to teethe." And then I tell them, "I'm in the middle of training her not to bite, so really, it's actually not okay." I think that is pretty clear (and polite), right? But do they remove their fingers from her mouth? Boundaries, people.

When I took Lou home, they told me not to take her out for the first few weeks, to let her do her business on the Wee Wee pad in the comfort of our home. Well, this dog has no interest in the Wee Wee pad, and she is totally NOT repelled by Dog Repellant Spray, which is supposed to keep her from peeing on my living room carpet. But one thing that is clear about Lou: she knows what to do when she gets outside. So, paper training is over, and outside training is in full swing. But I wonder: could it be that the pet handler told me not to take her out for a few weeks because of the PEOPLE outside?

Not the dogs. Not the germs. But the annoying people who interfere with her training? Oh, and that reminds me - there is also a contingent of people who want me to know everything they know about beagles that they think I must not know. If I stayed inside with Lou, I wouldn't be subjected to Beagles 101 five times a day. And if I stayed inside with Lou, I wouldn't have to be accosted by all of the people who want to tell me about their dead dogs.

Yes, their dead dogs. Why do they talk to me about their dead dogs? And in particular, why did that low-talking woman tell me about how her beagle got run over by a car? Do I LOOK like I am going to let my little puppy run free, as I hold her leash tautly between two hands? Or perhaps I just look like a good person to whom to give the unsolicited gift of their sorrowful memories. A little free therapy at 7 o'clock in the morning.

On the positive side, I have had some wonderful interactions with neighborhood dog owners. My most memorable one so far was the 70-something man who told me that the smallest beagle he ever saw was one that his dad took out of his pocket and gave to him. I let that sink in for a moment, and then it occurred to me: dad? tiny beagle? when did this happen? So, I asked him, "How old were you when your dad gave you your beagle?" "I was five years old," the 70-something year old man told me.

WOW. Now THAT father-son-dog interaction obviously left quite an imprint if it is being recalled 70-plus years later. Dogs clearly make for some powerful memories. So, I am left to wonder: what my kids will remember 70 some-odd years from now about the day they got Lou, about Lou in general?

YC

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About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.

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