We’ve had a guest lodger at our house for the last four days. She’s old, a little smelly, losing her vision, and not too fond of one of our cats. On the other hand, she’s fond of snuggling with us in bed, which I like, although I could do without the fright of having her tongue on my face at four in the morning.
Then again, she’s a poodle, and poodles can’t do no wrong by me. While my mom was off cavorting in San Francisco, I got to revisit one of my favorite parts of growing up—living with a dog. We were a dog family through and through, and as far back as I remember, that meant poodles. Moving in with Sarah meant changing teams, a switch that seemed to go against everything I knew to be just and true. Yes, the cats have grown on me, and meanwhile we’ve discussed getting a dog of our own someday, when there’s a big enough yard and room for it to stretch its legs. We got a little preview of that life these past few days, and I’m happy to discover that a) dogs are still awesome, and b) I haven’t gone soft from all that kittie lovin’.
Winnie is a terribly easy dog to take care of, probably since she’s been in the dog-being business for so long. She doesn’t shed, she doesn’t bark, she doesn’t even mind cats so much. (As for the cats minding her, that’s a different story.) She mainly wants to sit and be petted and snuggle. Occasionally she’ll shift positions and sleep in a different way, which is kind of an ordeal when you’re five feet long and 100 pounds. But when there are other parts of your back that need petting, a dog’s gotta do what a dog’s gotta do.
What I forgot about, dog-ownership-wise, or maybe never knew about, having grown up in suburbia, is the joy of taking her for a walk. What sounds like an exercise in tedium (and poop-carrying) is actually a wonderful excuse to take in one’s neighborhood and neighbors. One of my first now-this-is-city-living experiences was walking around the neighborhood of my first post-college apartment, running into a dog and its owner, and stopping for a few minutes to pet and chat, out of no pretense other than it was the friendly, metropolitan thing to do. It was one of the first things that made me really appreciate living in Chicago. There’s something inherently pleasant about walking your dog in the city. (I also hear they’re chick magnets, but my years of borrowing Winnie to go to the park never paid dividends.)