Or why I’ll never own another dog
This one isn’t going to make me any friends. Or, who knows, maybe it will. Just a different kind of friend.
There’s an enduring belief that the miraculous thing about dogs is their unconditional love. From where I stand (which is about two blocks from Central Park), it’s the other way around. Every morning I must pass a dozen people with their dogs during my two-block walk to the bus. Those people got up earlier than me, got dressed, and headed out with Rex no matter what the weather was doing.
Late night? Too bad. Aching back? Coming down with a cold? Half-finished draft of an essay to post on Medium later? Tough. Out they all troop.
Once out, there’s the eternal tug of war to get Rex’s nose disengaged from who knows what is on that fire hydrant and to make sure he’s not doing his toddler routine and putting everything he finds into his mouth. And let’s hope Rex is at least semi-socialized because here come those Rottweilers — and they’re not.
And then there’s the picking up of poop.
In an earlier incarnation, I owned dogs. Two husky mix beauties who thought a leash was the signal to throw all their weight into pulling a phantom sled. I had a back yard. A fenced in back yard. True, every couple of weeks I had to go out there with a shovel and clean up behind them. But when it was sleeting or pissing rain or -14 degrees, I opened the door and out they went. Sometimes I was crazy enough to take them down to the lake when it was cold and there wouldn’t be many other nutcases out there. Then, once we were there, off would come the leashes and they’d make like Greyhounds until they found some irresistible dead fish to roll around in.
I must have really loved those dogs. Like, unconditionally. Just like poor Chrissie who lives on the 4th floor and has had two knee replacements but still is out there every morning with her little dust-mop of a dog. Or another friend who lives nearby and devotes his time, energy, and money to his two rescued pit bulls. Or the couple who bought a condo in the next building with their matched set of Dalmatians which bark their heads off from the minute they leave the building until they’re dragged back indoors.
A lot is made of how much more intelligent wolves are than dogs. Oh? Then why are wolves constantly on and off the endangered species list while the majority of dogs in the developed world live like household gods? Dogs are no dummies. They got a good thing here and are going to ride this gravy train to the end of the line. As well they should.
When I was in London years ago something struck me after the first several days. There were no dogs. Maybe things have changed since then, but earlier in our current century, I saw not one dog in London. Not one. We took a barge out to Hampton Court and I did see some out in the countryside. I can only guess that in England there is a very practical realization that dogs should live where they can run to their heart’s content and poop wherever they want to.
Not so in New York.
There have been times over the years that I’ve considered getting a dog. There used to be a woman two doors down who came out every morning with her Greyhounds, gorgeous almost mythical looking beasts and I’d ponder getting a retired track Greyhound. I have read that they make excellent apartment dogs because they’re used to living in a crate and they sleep as much as cats. They just need to run flat out at 45 mph for about five minutes a day and they’re happy.
Then I’d come to my senses.
I picture that first really dark night of winter when the rain that’s been coming down all day is turning into snow. It’s been a truly awful day with one too many dull meetings where upper management spent hours of throat-clearing only to determine we’d been handling the project the right way all along. The trains are delayed due to problems with the ancient switching system and the weather. I finally get home where it’s warm. I’m hungry. I want to get out of these wet things. But there’s the dog. And no one’s eating or getting comfortable until that dog has been taken back out into the windy, black, wet, freezing night where it turns endlessly, shivering and unable to make up its mind where it can do its business. And once said business is done, down I have to go to wipe up the smeary mess into a bag.
No. Just no.
Unlike my neighbors and seemingly three fifths of New York City, I do not harbor unconditional love for dogs. I like your dog well enough if it doesn’t bark all night. I’m happy for you both. I used to have a partner who would throw himself down in front of any dog we passed and let that unknown animal lick his face.
Dogs are basically starter children. If you can keep a dog alive and healthy for five years you got a real shot at making it as a parent. And if that’s your thing, hey, go for it and bless your heart. When I get home at the end of another killer day at work, I am ready to plop down on the couch and get lost in some non-linear, depressing Scandinavian movie. That’s my idea of a good time.
So, no, I will not own another dog.
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